Amendment I (cont’d):
These days, most lawyers and judges, and many "Christians" and other Americans, essentially believe in the belief-action doctrine. They believe that people can believe whatever they like, but their actions had better conform to the rule of law. They tacitly believe that the preachers of the framers’ generation generally exhorted their followers to obey all duly enacted laws, because such laws must be inherently rational and worthy of obedience, because God ordained human government. This may indeed have been the position of Tory preachers, but it was emphatically not the position of most of the founders. Most non-Tory preachers were much more incisive than that. The type of preaching that led to the War for Independence is exemplified by a sermon by Reverend Jonathan Mayhew. Mayhew was pastor of the Congregational West Church in Boston. On the 103rd anniversary of the execution of King Charles I, January 30, 1752, Mayhew delivered a sermon entitled, "Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers". 2 John Adams later commented on the sermon. He said it
was read by everybody; celebrated by friends, and abused by enemies. . . . Mayhew seemed to be raised up to revive all their animosity against tyranny, in church and state, and at the same time to destroy their bigotry, fanaticism, and inconsistency. 3
This sermon was preached on the passage in Romans 13 that is dedicated to "subjection to the governing authorities":
Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7; NASB)
This passage is often used to encourage Christians into blind obedience to secular authorities. But we can quickly dispense with blind obedience by looking carefully at the attributes of such "governing authorities": (i)No governing authority exists except those that are established by God, and ordained by God. (ii)Rulers don’t make doers of good deeds afraid on account of their good deeds. (iii)Rulers praise good behavior. (iv)Rulers are ministers of God to us for good. (v)Rulers do not bear the sword for nothing, but they are rather avengers who bring wrath against evildoers. (vi)Rulers are servants of God who devote themselves to bringing wrath against evildoers. — Any rulers who fit this description are worthy of our obedient submission. But not all rulers fit this description. In fact, some rulers are evildoers themselves. They may bear the sword to punish bloodshed. But if they commit bloodshed themselves, who punishes them? In this country, the consent of the people defines the nation’s sovereign. In this country, it was understood at the beginning that even rulers are not perfect. Rulers need to be accountable as much as the rest of us. The failure to keep this passage from Romans 13 within the context of the fundamental, covenantal nature of Scripture, leads to its misinterpretation. Paul is clearly referencing the Noachian Covenant, specifically Genesis 9:6, in this passage. It pertains to what constitutes fundamental, global human law. People who claim that he was recommending blind obedience to tyrants in this passage have great difficulty explaining why Jesus and Peter were not blindly obedient to governing authorities, and why many saints gave their lives rather than obey repugnant edicts.
Our religion demands that we put obedience to God over obedience to man. This does not inherently make us laws unto ourselves. It is an essential attribute of anyone who follows Jesus Christ. People who hold obedience to man-made governments as paramount over obedience to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are followers of blind people who lead to ditches. — Since the fall of humanity, every human being excepting Meshiach suffers from ignorance and neglect of God’s ways. This ignorance and neglect is sin. We are all born into it. Its wages are death. Even so, for God’s elect, even though we suffer from this universal sin nature, we are redeemed. We are redeemed not because we gain full knowledge of God’s ways, but because we are sovereignly chosen from the beginning of time to know about, and act in accordance with, God’s plan of redemption from this universal sin. We are still held accountable for what we know, but we are redeemed in spite of our lack of knowledge. — In Deuteronomy 29:29, God says through Moses, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." (NASB). This means that we, God’s elect, are accountable and responsible for what we know. So blind obedience to governmental powers may be acceptable to God among those who count themselves among the redeemed under some conditions, like these: (i)The government is not doing anything at odds with what we know to be good and true. (ii)The government is acting at odds with what we know to be God’s best, but not so much so that we are grossly corrupting our consciences by going along with it. — Practically everyone who views his or her self as being among the redeemed fits into the latter category. But there are exceptions: The government may be acting at odds with what we know to be God’s best, and we are convinced that the government is so wrong that if we went along with it, our eternal salvation would be imperiled. — People in this latter category made up the bulk of those who fought on the side of the secessionists during the War for Independence. They also made up the bulk of those martyred during the first three centuries. But these days, HaSatan is using secular government as a trap that keeps most of us ignorant and stupefied, and from identifying with our forebears’ convictions. But according to Deuteronomy 29:29, we are responsible for what our forebears knew.
The obstacles that HaSatan uses to keep God’s people ignorant and stupid were well described by Baron de Montesquieu, one of the framers’ favorite scholars:
[O]ne does not succeed in detaching the soul from religion by filling it with this great object, by bringing it closer to the moment when it should find religion of greater importance. A more certain way to attack religion is by favor, by the comforts of life, by the hope of wealth; not by what reminds one of it, but by what makes one forget it; not by what makes one indignant, but by what makes men lukewarm, when other passions act on our souls, and those which religion inspires are silent. In the matter of changing religion, State favors are stronger than penalties. 4
The corpulent church is too busy collecting goodies from secular government to be interested in what God demands of it. So the majority of the people in the American church defend the status quo, and they defend decisions like Scalia’s and Kennedy’s. Regarding people who defend such things, it’s important to see how they get their reward. If they benefit from the status quo, meaning that they derive their livelihood from conformity to the existing regime, then it’s clear that the voice of the Truth is not strong enough in them to cause them to secede from the status quo’s ranks. They must be people who don’t claim to be among the redeemed; people who claim to be among the redeemed, but are not; or people who are among the redeemed who are not sufficiently edified to comprehend the present circumstances.
The government to be established by the Creator, over which His Son will reign as King, in the millennial Kingdom, will combine the jural and ecclesiastical motives behind government into a theocracy, a religious social compact that will rule the world. The Son’s bride, the "body of Christ", should be attempting to bring this theocracy into existence on this earth. Even so, there are rigorous restrictions in Scripture on how this is to be done, and the body of Meshiach should be cognizant of these restrictions, and should honor them as part of His law. These restrictions are embedded in the relative jurisdictions of these two types of social compacts. It’s essential for us to compact ourselves together to pursue God’s laws. It’s absolutely foolish to think that this government will fix itself. It’s far more important for us to be in compact than it is for us to attempt to fix it.