You and the New Government

America survived the first week of the not yet Donald Trump presidency, who knew?

Like many, Brenda and I stayed up into the early morning hours watching election returns. As we watched the returns and the pundits sheer disbelief at the news they were reporting, I smiled from ear to ear. The American people denied Hillary Clinton’s pursuit of the American Presidency.

I am no fan of Mrs. Clinton. Her public policies, her lawlessness, her suspect ethics, and especially her dereliction of duty concerning Benghazi put me firmly in the #NeverHillary camp early on in the election cycle.

To be clear I am no fan of Mr. Trump either, not yet anyway. My vote during the primary season went to a more conservative candidate, but my candidate of choice was not on the ballot for the general election. I could become appreciative of Mr. Trump if he somehow leads in such a way to hold the line against progressive liberalism or even rolls back policies of the left as he boldly campaigned. Time will tell if he does what he said he intends to do. Like all government before him, I suspect we will be disappointed at some point over the next four years.

The Bible gives more than ample instruction to Christ’s followers concerning our role and responsibility to government. Paul writes extensively about the conduct of a believer in the Roman Empire. We see in the Old Testament faithful examples we can follow in Joseph (Gen 37-50), the Hebrew midwives (Ex 1), and in Daniel and his friends, while John the Baptist, the Apostles, and our Lord provide our model in the New Testament (Mark 12:17).

The common thread in each example or command is “we are told to bend over backwards to honor the king or be obedient to the civil magistrates.”

  • 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 (Romans 13:1).
  • Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God…Honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:13-17).
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient (Titus 3:1).

Both Peter and Paul give the same directive without qualification or condition: Christians willingly submit to every civil authority. Someone retorts, “What if obeying man means I disobey God?” Of course we “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But here’s the fact, I suspect few, if any of my readers, have ever faced the situation where obeying an ordinance of man meant disobeying a command of God. It just doesn’t happen that often in 21st century America. The default position for Christians is submit to every obligation government lays upon us.

The Christian response goes farther than simply obeying civil laws. “It also includes genuine honor and respect for government officials as God’s agents for maintaining order and justice in human society.” Christians who made crass jokes about President Bill Clinton did so in violation of God’s commands. Any who used a racial slur in reference to President Obama were not merely politically incorrect or rude, they were wicked and ungodly. Snickering at a politician’s speech patterns or faux pas, critiquing his policies, or condemning his immorality is one thing; sharing a meme on social media that mocks his office or the image of God he bears is something altogether different.

So, we have a new president and a greatly altered government at every level. At best we are certain that we are not certain what our country will look like four years from nowTo this we must commit: we Christians will be model citizens in this United States of America.

As always, I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.