America’s Constitution, National Sovereignty and the Christian

Notwithstanding the reality that the soldier of Jesus Christ has a heavenly citizenship and is an alien in this world, we do occupy a place in this natural world.  We are spread throughout this world and we live under the governance of the country in which we dwell.  As an American, who still enjoys a semblance of freedom offered by our Constitution, what attention and effort am I accountable to extend towards my earthly citizenship? Is there a biblical mandate to participate and support or oppose the changing laws and policies of the land in which I live?

For many decades now, America has enjoyed some real prosperity.  With that prosperity has come a significant affluence and turning toward relaxation, entertainment and luxury.  I would posit that this affluence has dulled our sensibilities to important issues that affect our lives on a grander scale.  It would seem that the ‘easy life’ has drawn our attention away from maintaining the foundation and framework of the freedom we enjoy by the very fruit of this freedom.  How is it that America became a strong and prosperous nation?  Why was personal/private property ownership a significant aspect of our growth as a country?  What did the establishment of our Constitution do in providing America with the framework for healthy governance?  What about national sovereignty, a democratic republic and a government for the people by the people?

In the USA, the Constitution is the “Supreme Law” of the land, and all elected and appointed positions of power within our government are required to take an oath to the Constitution.  A legitimate question we can and should ask is, are our govenment officials working within and in support of our Constitution or are they working outside and contrary to it?  Once we’ve asked and legitimately answered this question, what is our responsibility to respond?

Several scriptures come to mind as I think through these issues.  The analogy in 2 Timothy 2:4, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”  This really calls me to consider what I am most committed to… the eternal or the temporal.  I’m keeping this Word close to help me guard my heart and mind as I think through these things.  I Timothy 2:1,2 also remind me of my responsibility to pray for all people, “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  And then there is Romans 13.  It seems that if there was any straightforward, clear and concise word on this matter, it is Romans 13:1-4.

Let 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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For 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, for 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.
(Romans 13:1-4 ESV)

Okay… no need to go any further.  I have my marching orders, right?  But… (with humility), what about Hitler, what about Dietrich Bonhoeffer?  Yes, the evil visited on the Jews was outrageous and appalling and so it seems easy to justify opposition to the government in this instance but what about the subversive evil being carried out today in America (as well as around the world)?  Keep in mind here, that I am not arguing the point of God’s sovereignty in all these matters.  Cyrus was not above or outside God’s purposes or power, rather King Cyrus was part of God’s purpose and plan (Isaiah 45).  But what was(then)… and what is(now) a right response for the child of God through Jesus Christ with regard to earthly governance?

Admittedly, this matter continues to challenge and confound me, so my post here is both a tabling of my thoughts as well as an invitation to you to bring me to God’s word to better understand the answers God has given to the unresolved questions that continue on for me today.

Additionally, there is someone who I will sort of quote below whose opinion I value.  He is a wonderful pastor who has demonstrated a significant degree of integrity in his life and the sermons he preaches… Pastor John MacArthur.

Posting from elsewhere (I apologize for not having the link to refer to)…

John MacArthur, an internationally-known and highly respected pastor and theologian, says that the Romans 13 principle of being “subject to the governing authorities” is “unqualified, unlimited, and unconditional.”

While John MacArthur’s understanding of Romans 13 may lack an appreciation for political nuance and legal complexity, most would agree that he is on firm scriptural ground when he says that “there is no such thing as a Christian government,” and thus Christians who spend too much time on political affairs neglect their responsibilities to the Kingdom of God.
 

I’m tempted to add some video clips that highlight the matters of concern I have regarding our country and the evils being carried out against the unaware citizens of this country and those around the world who are impacted as well, but for now I would rather hold back from that.  Anyone can offer an opinion and I don’t want to have to speak for folks I have no knowledge of. 

For now, this post will remain both a laying out of a concern I am wrestling through and an invitation to all who would offer a biblical response that may prove helpful to me and others and that will bring God the most glory.

Blessings.

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5 Responses to America’s Constitution, National Sovereignty and the Christian

  1. rachelrooke says:

    Interesting you bring up Bonhoeffer, as I always think of him in this context. Germany under Hitler is understood as a cruel time today, BUT, when Bonhoeffer woke up and began resisting………Germans did not see or understand the critical nature of the times. Even though he is not a Christian, Noam Chomsky understands this concept in his book, “Manufacturing Consent” or “Hopes and Prosects”. The more we, as citizens, desire leisure and the less we even understand or care about our current government, the easier we are persuaded to believe certain things. As a Christian, I want to continue to develop very critical thinking skills as I read any media regarding the state of our country and its leaders. I want to seek out those educational opportunities and not just live in my own world of leisure. I wonder who in our generation will provide these voices of criticism that is much needed. Many do not agree with me on this, but my first wake up call was the Iraq War. “The Age of Deception,” by Mohamed Elbaradei, one of the chief UN weapons inspectors during the lead up to the Iraq war is another good book. And now we have exposed the mis-dealings of Wall Street. There is a lot of anger in our country and a lot of ignorance. Hopefully, the ignorance will be dealt with first before the anger reaches a boiling point. What we are learning in our classical conversations teaching method (for our children) is that Education brings about freedom. I did not include scriptures here, but I just think of the entire book of proverbs. Knowledge leads to Understanding…which leads to wisdom. Without these things, our citizens are without any tools to change the mess we are in.

  2. rachelrooke says:

    “Hopes and Prospects” correction 🙂

  3. TimWitten says:

    Rachel, thanks for participating in the discussion. Keep it coming as you have time with the little ones 🙂

  4. rachelrooke says:

    I think I missed the point of your argument in my earlier comment. You are addressing the citizen that is already concerned with what is taking place in government and when it is our place to do something about it rather than just be in submission to that authority. Very interesting question. I would begin my submission to the current authority by respecting and honoring them with my words. I’m quick with my tongue sometimes and would hope that I will gain more tact as I age. BUT, as you also mentioned, it is critical to be informed of what our leadership is involved with. This is the area many do not tackle. They either don’t care, or they do care but have no grounds to explain specifically what they have issue with. I think of Esther in this case as well. Her careful submission to the King and yet, given the ability to voice difficult truths when needed. Yes! I like Esther! So……….I have serious doubts that the person driving around with the bumper sticker on their car which reads, One Big A– Mistake America could tackle the presidency with any more ability then our current president himself.

    • TimWitten says:

      I have found it a real challenge to maintain a level of respect and honor for those in positions of power (not necessarily authority) but also for those in government positions. At my age I’m still too quick with my tongue 😉 and need to guard against that as well as the way my emotions push in and influence my thoughts. I realized that I have not been careful to guard my heart and take those things I am becoming aware of in our world and bringing them to God in prayer and so they have begun to consume me. I’m hoping I can get back to a good sense of resting in God and casting these cares on Him as I see the enemy at work in our country and world, without losing my joy and focus on Jesus Christ. I’ll be glad to learn from you and others going forward. Thanks for reminding me about Esther 🙂

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