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Who Should We Submit To?

I'm sure you are very aware of the events taking place recently in several Middle Eastern countries where the people have protested against horrific totalitarian governments. The people decided they were tired of living in a way where they do not feel human. Many have died as those in government in some cases have turned on their own people to keep their power over them.

As a Christian I truly believe that humans were created to be free to live life with a purpose and plan. There is a place for structure and law in groups of people or nations to keep order and peace and prevent anarchy and violence. However when those authorities use that power to enslave their people for their own benefits, that causes many problems for those that are under that leadership.

Other countries over the centuries revolted against their government in similar situations regarding race, tribes and classes of people. It is in the nature of all people to be free and have the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The recent events in the Middle East have touched me deeply as I'm sure it has all people regardless of political or religious traditions. The value of being free is precious to every living soul on earth. To think that some would feel that the actions of these people would be considered wrong on religious terms is appalling to me. Unfortunately there are some that feel that God is against these people.


There is a well known Christian minister that recently made comments stating that he felt that the efforts of the people rising up in the Middle East for freedom will not be successful because they are going against God's appointed leadership in those nations. Basically he says by using verses in the Bible that since they are in power, God wanted them there. They use the following verses in the Bible from Romans chapter 13 verses 1 through 7 to support this belief:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  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.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honor.

If you follow world history at all, I am sure you are aware in most if not all cases the totalitarian leaders are asking people to do things that are clearly against scripture (usury, murdering, stealing, burdening the poor unfairly, etc.). Usually this is done under the threat of prison or death. In many cases leaders, like Adolf Hitler, made their heinous and treacherous acts the law of the land.  They could perform or order their violent acts against their people saying they had to obey the law.  

In other situations where the people were not under the threat of death, such as the French Revolution, the poorer people rebelled against placing the unfair burden of taxation upon them and the overbearing rule of law on them that the elite were not subject to.  They wanted fairness in taxation, freedom of religious expression, equality (social, political, economic) and to have a republic form of government where all parts of society would have a real voice in influencing the direction of France. When the people got tired of that kind of inequality and unfair burden, they successfully overthrew the government.

In the United States we had the Civil Rights Movement in order to change laws where blacks have the same rights as all other groups, especially whites who were the majority in this country. It was a fight to right those wrong where all people would be considered full fledge citizens. This was a bold step to take that resulted in better laws that line up with the spirit of the US Constitution (for the most part).  Interracial couples married even though the unconstitutional laws were on the books to make their statement against them.  My marriage to my lovely husband would still be illegal today if the law in Virginia had not been considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June 1967 in the case of Loving vs. Virginia.  My lovely husband and I along with many interracial couples are grateful that the Lovings stood up to that dreadful, ungodly law.

If you read these verses from Romans 13 carefully it states that you should not rebel against good leaders that do not terrorize those that do good.  The leaders in the countries with recent protests in the Middle East led their nations with terror toward those that did good.  To say that these verses state that we should obey all leaders is a misreading of the scripture.  People under these types of leaders have every right to rebel against them on Biblical grounds.

If these ministers thought about this critically and/or read the verses more carefully they would see that they are wrong in their interpretation of Scripture. The vast majority of cases where Christians have been persecuted were when they decided to preach the gospel in places where it is illegal. Do they not preach the gospel in order to submit to the governing authorities (higher powers)? I sincerely feel they have not thought this through.

I am not familiar with other religious traditions when it comes to dealing with unfair and unjust government rule. I would love to hear from people from other religious traditions to see what their holy writings say about the following:

1. The idea of freedom and value of every human being and how it is defined

2. The relationship of humans to government. Are they to submit to any authority regardless of whether they ask them to disobey the holy writings?

Let's take a look at this.

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