Asked and Answered: The Christian and oppressive government

I was recently asked the following question:

Right now, the government is becoming increasingly oppressive, but God says to submit to government/authority. If we eventually become socialist/communist would it be wrong to overthrow the government?

To which I answered:

You want my unpatriotic, but more biblical answer? Yes, I think it would be wrong. First Peter 2:13-17 tells us,

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors sent by him…

Now it’s true that God’s purpose for human government is to protect the good and punish evil, but Peter’s statement doesn’t leave room for us not to submit if the government doesn’t fulfill its purpose. Indeed, Peter anticipates government won’t fulfill its purpose. The whole of that letter is about how to be holy as God is holy in the midst of suffering.

I, therefore, believe Christians are commanded to be radically submissive to the government unless that government is commanding you to sin. Now, today our government does do this… through the contraception mandate for businesses with their insurance or through that couple in New Mexico who were fined and just told by the Supreme Court in that state that they violated human rights by refusing to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” And this is only going to increase. There are only going to be more times and more ways in which Christians will have to “obey God rather than men (government)” (Acts 5:29).

The apostles disobeyed the government all the time when it came to them being told to deny their faith and stop preaching the gospel. But you never see them calling for revolution, either in Israel or in the Roman Empire. On the contrary, they knew Christ’s kingdom was not of this world, and that ultimately He is the Judge of the living and the dead and would be coming back to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

So all of that to say… YES, do disobey the government whenever they tell you to not obey God. YES, always submit to the government otherwise. NO, overthrow of the government is just not Scriptural. God ordains all kings and rulers.

I’m actually one of those people who think we Americans were in sin for rebelling against King George. But the Scriptures must guide us. Not Republicanism, conservatism, or even patriotism. Our allegiance is not to a flag, but to the Savior.

Ultimately our submission to the government is a reflect of our submission to the lordship of Christ. We must remember that God establishes nations and rulers and nothing happens apart from or contrary to His sovereign decree. So revolution and rebellion is not to be in our vocabulary as it relates to the government. Submission is… to the governing authorities until doing that means not submission to the ultimately authority of the Lord Jesus.

I hope this helps. What do you think?

Author: Matt Privett

Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor.

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