Our Civil Duty

The issue of Mark 12:13-17 lays out a message that requires thorough reading for both then and now. It is true; for all intents and purposes, this was a test for the Christ. The flattery heaped by the Pharisees and Herodians is thick and does not go unnoticed. But their observations are true. The dilemma they intend to force on Jesus is legitimate on its surface. A response to civil authority is required of any citizen in any country at all times, even as it is today in America.  Regardless of how unjust a “tax” may be or how heavy the burden hoisted on the citizens by its government, there is a necessity to respond either in obedience or revolt and the latter was what the religious leaders hoped Jesus would convey. Note: even though Jesus response in this situation was correct and sends his flatterers away amazed, they accuse him of not paying or at least encouraging people not to pay taxes during his trial in Luke 23:2.

There are several instances in scripture which talk about civil responsibility. If you care to examine them, consult Romans 13:1-7, Col 1:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, Titus 3:1-2 and 1 Peter 2:13-17. 

In this season of discontent in the US with a large number of citizens in revolt against huge government spending, big government bureaucracy and waste, are Christians correct and within the guidelines of scripture to protest and defy the actions of the civil authorities? Is there anything immoral about the intent or action of the current Government that compels us to respond or to see what they are doing as an affront to God? Or should we support and comply? Do we stand under the umbrella of our constitution or the authority of scripture? Are those two “documents” in agreement with our rights as citizens or do we abrogate our rights under the authority and teaching of scripture?

Is our Government anti-God or anti-Christian or anti-faith?  I suspect many would argue “yes” without any hesitation or reservation. Others would say there is no requirement of scripture that Government be godly, Christian, or faith driven. It simply is what it is, leaders appointed by God and as long as they are not casting God into his own created darkness, than we have an obligation to obedience. In addition, we do not have an option of divorcing our faith from our civil obligations – we are not a Christian on the one hand and citizens on the other – we are Christian citizens. We cannot divorce our faith from our citizenship any more than we can divorce our faith from our daily life. Christian is who we are, not what we are.

Does that mean we like what our Government is doing; that we agree with what our Government is doing; that we support what our Government is doing? The answer for many of us is “No!” But that does not give us any right – not one under the authority of scripture – to do anything but obey.  As we are taught – anyone can be good when treated fairly and justly. It is when we are punished for doing no wrong that the strength and depth of our faith is tested. And these trials are not just from God, but from the authorities he has put in place over us. 

Does that mean we are in violation of scripture if we protest or let our opinions be made known to our government officials? Perhaps. So then what?

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10 Comments

Filed under Gospel of Mark, Politics

10 responses to “Our Civil Duty

  1. Hi Norm,

    Have had this discussion a couple of times on FB. I agree and disagree with your premise.

    Is there a contradiction in the Bible? (No) However, to preface my statement, do we think that Paul’s day didn’t have its battles? It seems to me that Paul was ordered not to preach the gospel. Thanks to Paul we have the Bible and God’s Word because of his civil disobedience.

    The authorities punished Paul greatly for his civil disobedience: prison, beaten, and etc. (Funny how God did not punish Paul for doing what was right and not obeying the civil authorities.) Paul says himself that we have fought the good fight. I don’t remember any chastisement from God admonishing him for his actions.

    There is a timing for everything under the sun. Nothing before its time and only God knows that timing of the end. We are to maintain the victory set forth by Jesus on the Cross until He calls us home. Even the demons know that there is a time for everything for they said to Jesus, “Do you come to torment us before our time?”

    We cannot have victory without a battle. We cannot have a battle without an enemy, and we cannot have an enemy without right and wrong, good and evil. Our country has grown because the righteous have stood up for right and good and the Gospel.

    God is about to turn the world over to a reprobate mind. (After He abducts His Bride first, however.) Genesis says that God will not always strive with man

    God does not call us to lay down in front of the freight train coming our way.

    I myself plan on fighting the good fight and running my course as did Paul so I can stand as proud as I can in front of Jesus when He calls me home. I believe that Eph 6:12-17 explains it best. If we are not in a war and if civil disobedience is not okay, why the armor? Is God wrong in telling us this?

    As usual Norm, you got the juices flowing and woke me up. Have a great day brother an GBY. Keep writing.

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  2. Sorry Norm, Me again. Had some Scripture I was going to share and neglected to do so.

    For your study: Jos 10:25; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7. Have a great day brother.

    Jim

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  3. Norm

    Jim, as usual, thanks for your thoughts.

    When I first read your thoughts my reaction was, “Gee, this sounds like something a radical muslim could say regarding the Koran, their faith and the war with the infidels.” Then of course I thought better.

    Secondly, I’m not certain what “We are to maintain the victory set forth by Jesus on the Cross” means. The victory of the cross is what it is. It cannot diminish in light or power. And to think I have a role somehow in maintaining that is surreal. I have a role in living under its influence and power. Beyond that, it is the act of a loving God for a dying world with no input or influence by me or anyone.

    ***
    Read your piece. I did recall it from a previous post. It’s a nice devotional.

    Blessings.

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    • Thanks for not saying what your first reaction was. You could have if your wanted though. (LOL) Your piece was thought provoking and I enjoyed reading it. I enjoy your writing because you have a good way with words and have a good vocabulary.

      I think I answered your question below and I hope I was more explicit in my thoughts this time. I know exactly what I meant. (Just didn’t say it. LOL)

      Does it bother you when I comment since our theology seems to be so distant from one another? I surely don’t want to upset you brother in any way. If you want, I’ll just read your blog and won’t comment if you like. No prob.

      You have a great day Norm and keep writing.

      GBY

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  4. jonron

    I’m with Norm. With regard to civil disobedience what does “maintain the victory set forth by Jesus” mean?
    Also, Jim said, “Thanks to Paul we have the Bible and God’s Word…” Please elaborate.
    Jon

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    • Maintain the victory to me means that we do not sit on our duff and do nothing and that Jesus will still do it all. Faith is an action word and God calls us to be victorious. We (as Paul) need to fight the good fight. Sounds proactive to me. Christ has done it all on the Cross but for us to be personally victorious we need to fight the good fight spiritually through the Cross.

      Since Paul wrote 2/3’s of the New Testament, I thank him for writing it. Thanks to the Jews we have the Bible because they transcribed the Word and maintained it throughout the centuries, every jot and tittle(sp).

      I apologize for not being explicit in my comment. Please forgive me.

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  5. jonron

    Mr. Warren,
    Am I too ignorant or too undeserving for you to answer my questions? Or should I not be questioning you at all?
    Here’s another question for you not to answer: What has putting on the armor of God have to do with civil disobedience?
    Jon

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  6. If you are referring to my length of time in answering your comment and question, I apologize. I don’t usually check back once I read Norm’s (or any) blog. If it is a discussion board, I definitely check from time to time. If this is not what you referred to, sarcasm goes right over my head brother and doesn’t bother me. GBY brother Jonron.

    I’ll answer anyway although you don’t want my opinion. My point was toward fighting and being disobedient toward the government whereas Norm’s piece sounded as though he leaned toward NOT being disobedient. When I start my day, which seems to be a constant war, be it civil or spiritual, I prefer to put on my spiritual armor. If we are not to fight, why does the Bible tell us to put on the armor? I hope this explains my point a little brother. Sorry for any misunderstanding. You have a great day and GBY

    I enjoy Norm’s blog. He is highly intelligent and has a good vocabulary. He is a friend of mine although our theology sometimes is 180 degrees apart. It still interesting to see how some think.

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  7. Norm

    Well, looks like there is a great deal to cover in this whole discussion. If I know Jim, he’ll not be inclined to dialog on this issue because he is very comfortable with where he’s at theologically. Right or wrong, I might add. Jon, I’m not certain how you would develop you thoughts on the points, or questions, you raised.

    There are some deep theological implications from much of what you’ve written Jim. I’m uncertain whether or not you would want to see those implications.

    Jon, Jim’s approach to blogs is similar to many folks, including mine. We may stop, read, comment and move on. Unless we have a trigger set to alert us to additional commments or follow up to our particular comments, we have no idea it’s happening. That may not be fair, especially when we “comment” on a topic, but that’s often the way it works.

    Thanks to you both for your thoughts.

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  8. jonron

    Mr. Warren,
    Norm’s entry, to which you and I are both responding, was entitled “Our Civil Duty”. You seemed to think he was oppossed to civil disobedience and you tried to show that Paul did engage in civil disobedience. Was it not Peter who said “we ought to obey God rather than men”?(Acts 4:29) Paul, on the other hand, said “the powers that be are ordained of God” and one who “resists the power resists the ordinance of God”.
    Paul’s battles were with the Judaizers (who insisted that Gentiles could not come to Christ w/o first submitting to the Law) not with the government.

    You cited Eph. 6:12-17 in support of civil disobedience. It is actually says just the opposite. “We wrestle NOT against flesh and blood”.
    None of the pieces of armor have anything to do with resisting civil authorities.

    The statements that you made about the victory that Jesus secured for us on the cross and about our getting off our duff are correct, they simply have nothing to do with civil disobedience.

    I agree that there is a time and a place for a march, a demonstration or a sit-in, but neither Jesus or Paul are good examples to use to support such a position.

    Jon

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