God sets up and institutes each government (Romans 13:1-4) which can be a positive or negative judgement on the people of that nation. Some times God is not pleased with those whom people chose to lead the people but allows it (Hosea 8:4) and hands people over to their sinful heart and desire (Romans 1:24). But how are Christians called interact with their ordained governments and what is their absolute Human Right?
Christians are called to pray for, ask for aid, and be thankful to the government institutions (1 Tim. 2:1-2) and that those who lead the governing institutions should be seen as brothers and not authoritative dictators, even if they are unjust (1 Timothy 6:1-2). But those who are unjust authoritative dictators should also be respected because even they need to be shown grace and forgiveness too; thus serving unjust leaders is serving God (1 Peter 2:18-20; Titus 2:9-11).
Christians should expected and call for the government to defend the unfortunate and not violate their “human rights” (Prov. 31:4-5, 8-9) These leaders and institutions are also expected to seek truth and justice for evil and support what is good should (1 Peter 2:13-14). A leader and government that glorifies God should be sought and supported (1 Samuel 12:13-25).
Should Christians Vote?
It is God that ordained a constitutional democratic republic governing institution (or any type of government); He has granted the people of that nation the ability to chose their leadership of their own, good or bad. Because Christians are allowed to take part in this type of government by God, they are then expected to, as service to the Lord through it (1 Cor 10:31). The focus and appreciation for this type of allowed involvement is not on a worldly political party, but on the Lord, by supporting those who are seeking leadership that love the Lord. Voting in a government election is an opportunity to support and encourage citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
Obedience to the institutions and government leaders is serving God and trusting God’s will; thus civil obedience of a just governments is worshiping God when it is done for God (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25). God calls Christian leaders to not lord over people but serve people (Matthew 20:25-28). Believers are commanded to honor and respect where honor and respect is due (Romans 13:7).
Also read SCOTUS and God
What about unjust institutions and governments?
Even when institutions and governments become unjust and do things that are immoral, Christians are still called to be civil (Matthew 22:20-21; 1 Peter 2:18-20; Titus 2:9-11). Jesus and Paul used taxes as the illustration. Understand that this illustration has a different meaning in our time. In the biblical context, Rome was using the taxes they acquired from the Jews to fund wars and apply oppressive policies over the Jewish people, yet, Jesus still called them to pay the taxes; Paul reiterated this (Romans 13:6). Saul (Paul) was paid by Rome to hunt Christians; that money came from taxes taken from Christians. So there is something greater than carnal taxes and worldly ends that calls for Civil Disobedience than just immoral use of wealth and possessions.
This is permitted when the institutions and government attempt to prevent worshiping God absolutely (Daniel 3:12-18). Yet, it is still required of all believers to do it in a respectful way that Glorifies God in the civil disobedience just as Daniel did. Daniel respectfully disobeyed a legitimate (unjust) law which violated a human right and he continued to worship God knowingly violating that law (Daniel 6:10). It is also permitted when The Gospel message is prevent by governing institutions (Acts 5:27-29; Romans 13:1-7). Thus we see the greatest human right.
The Absolute Human Right
Even when our fundamental human right of worshiping God and teaching The Gospel message is violated and not permitted by institutions and governments; we still are held accountable to God for how we respond to these injustices. We are commanded to still LOVE our enemy and PRAY for those who persecute us through violating our human right (Matthew 5:44). We are commanded to continue to do what is good according to God even when the persecutions are heavy (1 Peter 2:18-20; Titus 2:9-11). How we serve God while living under an oppressive and unjust governing system can Glorify God. Our love, prayers, and good will in the face of injustice is part of worshiping God that no government can prevent. We can remain civil and right in our disobedience to humanistic attempts to prevent our service and worship to the Lord.
Other Forms of Civil Disobedience
In the civil rights era of the United States we see sound Christian leaders like Martin Luther King Jr remain civil before man and right before God in his disobedience to obstacles to proclaiming the Gospel and worship of God. Smuggling missionaries, bibles, and the Gospel message into China, the Middle East and other governments that absolutely outlaw it is still serving and worshiping God. Some governments attempt to regulate and limit the worship and proclaiming the gospel instead of out right outlawing it but again this is another humanistic attempt to control what belongs to God. Remember, Paul wrote half his epistles in Roman Jail before being executed for proclaiming the Gospel; God still received his due Glory despite human efforts to limit and control the message of The Gospel.
Obey the Laws of the Land
If the ruling government enacts laws that does not prevent worshiping God or proclaiming the Gospel message we are commanded to follow those enacted laws. If a government imposes a curfew that interferes with church times; move the church times. If the government imposes specified ‘freedom speech zones’ move to those zones and continue to worship and proclaim the Gospel. If the government takes away tax exemption, churches then need to adapt and pay what is owed to Caesar. Only when the absolute worship and teaching is prohibited, then civil disobedience is MADE necessary. It is made necessary when the government attempts to prevent what is owned to God; worship and service. Until then, we are instructed by God to civilly obey even if the laws are inconvenient (Romans 13:1-14).
The ruling government was instituted by God and we need to understand this. Either due to divine justice or favor. Christians should take every opportunity within the government to worship and serve God; that includes voting. But when worshiping God and teaching the Gospel is suppressed, regulated, and controlled by governments; persecution and injustices come. When it is outlawed; nothing changes. Nothing changes because Christians still give what is owned to God; worship and service, no matter the conditions of the the ruling government. But under that oppression, Christians are still called to be civil and do good for God. The ultimate focus is serving God, not man, and glorifying God despite man, while seeking civility and desiring peace without denying the glory due to God.
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