Drinking Deeply

Saturday, November 04, 2006 at 6:37 PM

Government authority

Romans 13
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
1) We are called to be a member of our community, and part of that is taking part in the democratic voting and electing process.

2) The authorities act as God's representatives as Romans 13 makes clear. We are to obey them and submit to them as to the Lord (except where doing so would cause us to sin).

3) Because they, like all things, are under God's authority, there is a moral ought for what the government should do. It should be a rewarder of good and punisher of evil (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). What is good and evil? What God commands is good is good and what God commands is evil is evil. (I think I'm leaning towards being a theonomist, but I'm not too sure how all of this works out) There is no ultimate justification for anything else. The members of the government will one day be held accountable for their disbelief and rejection of God's laws and the only path to salvation is through Christ.

4) I see nothing inherently wrong with taking advantage of the means God has provided (voting and so on) to seek to conform the government to God's laws. As long as it's legal there is no moral prohibition against it.

5) Yet, we don't look to the authorities for salvation. Making laws will not transform people. Just as Paul writes, the law comes (he's speaking of God's law), and we sin even worse. The condition of man is not something that can be solved through legislation. The condition of man can, and must be solved through the preaching of the Gospel and the sovereign act of God. I fear that often people, though they may not profess it with their mouths, put their hope and trust in legislation with all the lobbying, get out the vote, and tables in churches and the like.

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