July 6, 2020

How Do You Submit to the Government In a Constitutional Republic?

There’s a lot of unrest brewing in the countries under lock-down, especially the United States, and I think it’s only going to get worse as some states open up and some are still closed. There’s a lot of discussion going on as to whether Christians should continue to submit to the government or even what this means when you’re a Constitutional Republic and the Constitution is the law, not the person who can overstep it’s bounds.

Tim Challies seems to be part of the camp that believes that submission is the order of the day:

That’s not to say I necessarily understand every decision or that I necessarily agree with every action the various levels of government have taken. But that’s the very nature of submission. God doesn’t call us to follow leadership only when we fully agree with it. It has struck me that the New Testament’s posture toward civil leaders is generally positive. It seems to nudge us toward the assumption that governments are acting wisely, not foolishly; that our opinion toward their actions should generally be favorable, not skeptical; that our words about them should be supportive, not rebellious; and that our response to their decrees should generally be submissive, not resistant. Romans 13:1-7 is not about the limits of governmental authority, but about the goodness and necessity of Christian obedience. The same is true of 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Titus 3:1, not to mention Matthew 22:21.

Thankful for God’s Good Gift of Government

And it’s true, submission isn’t obeying just when you agree or understand what is being asked of you, but obeying the godly authority over you in any relationship that you are in that has a hierarchy above you.

The question that I think I haven’t seen treated well is whether this passage implies that the person in the hierarchy is the law when there’s a Constitutional Republic. Can you refrain to submit because the document is a higher authority than the person attempting to exert their power?

Also, there’s differences of opinion over whether the Government has the right to tell churches not to meet in our form of government given the First Amendment to the Constitution. You know, the one that says that Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of that religion?

What are your thoughts?

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