There is a teaching within the Christian community that God ordains all leaders who take political or religious office. The teaching goes like this: God is sovereign, which is to say, God has power to and does exercise His will and decree over all events in history. All societies need governance. Governments require leaders – these leaders are chosen by God and therefore, Christians (as well as all mankind) must respect and obey all leaders. The virtues espoused here are those of respect for authority and obedience to the law.
If you are not a Christian, you may never have heard this idea expressed just this way. Your first question might relate to why God chooses so many despots and murderers to be our leaders. Nonetheless, all Christians have at the least been exposed to this teaching. There are several areas of Scripture that seem to support this teaching in its entirety. But, sincere Christians desiring to please God and maintain order may be applying this teaching too broadly and absolutely. If so, what are the consequences? I believe that this kind of thinking leads to passivity, indifference, determinism (as in Islam) and a loss of the power that God gives all who believe and obey him, as well as a rejection of personal responsibility to, as some call it, “influence and occupy” the culture.
If God picked Bill Clinton to be president, why should we fight his policies? If God put Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ and Nixon in office, why should we fight socialism and social re-engineering? For that matter, if the men and women who have made up the majority of our Supreme Court for decades – most of whom I would be ashamed to have in my home – are really God’s choices (through the presidents he chose), then why should we object to abortion on demand and the myriad heinous decisions that have eviscerated our form of government and our freedoms?
Very obviously, if God chose King George to rule over the colonies, then our Founding Fathers were ALL wrong, and we should resubmit to the UK with our apologies. As startling as this might be, many, many Christians believe our founders were wrong.
While most parts of this teaching are correct, the conclusion is wrong. Yes, God is sovereign. But He chooses when we will exercise his decrees. Sometimes – often – God allows men to make wrong decisions and then live with the consequences.
Yes, the Bible teaches that we should respect authorities or “rulers.” But how does it define that office? Very clearly:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
– Romans 13:3-4
Right now, seven words come to mind:
Do we even have to argue that the aforementioned “rulers” were not terrors to the evil while praising the good?
What kind of worldview do we espouse if to resist the evils of Mao and the U.N. is to resist lawful authority?! Excuse me for going to extremes – but I will – should we obey the anti-Christ when he shows up?
After the November election, millions of Christians will sigh and say, well, the Lord God Almighty is sovereign. He must have wanted (fill in the blank) to be president.
I respond – no!
Get out your Bible – read the parts that so many Christians don’t spend much time in. The Tanach, otherwise called the “Old Testament.” Go to the book of Hosea and memorize verse four of chapter eight:
They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.
Israel was punished severely for her sins – one of which was setting up kings and princes outside of God’s will and who he “knew not.”
This should send chills into the hearts of many of us – sobering us to our personal and national responsibility. No more should we blithely, even smugly, assume our rulers were chosen in “God’s will.” No, just like Israel, God will allow us to suffer the consequence of voting against His will year after year – putting into office men and women who do not follow him. Additionally, he will be justified in “cutting us off” because we made silver and gold our idols.
I have heard Romans 13 cited hundreds of times, but have never in my life heard a reference, let alone a sermon, on Hosea 8:4. I think that should stop. We can’t pass the buck – blaming God for all the good as well as the evil in the world. This November, when you vote, remember, you are responsible for your candidate’s choices once in office. Does he believe in protecting the lives of the innocent by appointing good Supreme Court justices? Does he respect and uphold the rule of law – by standing firmly against illegal immigration and amnesty? Does he defend our highest civil law, the Constitution, by upholding freedom of speech – especially in political and religious areas? Is he honest about these issues? Or does he block honorable judges, approve judges who destroy the Constitution, support amnesty for lawbreakers and sponsor legislation that guts the First Amendment?
After committing Hosea 8:4 to memory, I suggest you read my husband’s book “None of the Above” before you make a decision you can’t take back.