Election Season Thoughts on Romans 13

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

This first verse of the 13th chapter of the book of Romans does rather smack one in the face at the present time. For the moment, let the past be the past and let the question of the present “governing authority” in the Oval Office sit quietly aside.

As you gaze out over the field of candidates grasping for election to that Oval Office, do you see anyone who you can rationally believe will be fit to be the authority that God has established?

I mean really. Imagine each candidate in that position. One of them will be the Leader of the Free World, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, the head of the Executive Branch (his or her administration will execute the laws established by the other two branches), etc, etc.

He or she will be the governing authority that God has established.  Let’s read the rest of the paragraph.

The authorities that exist have been established by God.  

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.

But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.

They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is exactly how to see government. This is what to keep in mind when assessing candidates. This is what to have in mind when you cast your vote.

This is why, when choosing a candidate, we must not make this passage ironic by choosing someone who would make a mockery of American Constitutional governance, who would govern in defiance of godly judgment and in opposition to the Judeo-Christian-oriented consensus which used to be the basis of governance in our nation.

I’m not saying there aren’t any candidates who would fit. But there are clearly a bunch who, when substituting their names for the subjects in these sentences, will give you a good nervous laugh. Try it.

Try Trump as the subject. Try Clinton. Try Sanders. Try Jeb.

Research the candidates for yourself. (Don’t only read their opposition’s accounts!) Choose a candidate who you would be as comfortable as possible electing to the office where he is the authority that God has established.

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5 thoughts on “Election Season Thoughts on Romans 13

  1. Nan

    You mention that the first verse of the 13th chapter of the book of Romans declares that God has established the authority of this Nation.

    I do not live by the bible’s authority. I live by the U.S. Constitution. And contrary to what many Christians believe and promote, this document, nor any of the other three governing documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, were written by “Christians.”

    The founding fathers could not be clearer on this point: God has no role in government; Christianity has no role in government. They make this point explicitly, repeatedly, in multiple founding documents. We are not a Christian nation.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/founding-fathers-we-are-n_b_6761840.html

    I have NO problems with you or any other believer living as you choose in this great Nation. You have full authority (via the Constitution) to worship as you please. You do not, however, have the authority to push your beliefs on others by demanding everyone live by the 13th chapter of the book of Romans.

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    1. madblog Post author

      Whoa. Where are you finding that I support any such pushing of beliefs?

      If you will read the brief post, I was only pointing out to those who DO care about Scripture that they are supporting some pretty scary candidates for a governing authority which God has established, that we have some frighteningly bad choices to elect to such a position.

      Romans 13:1 does not declare that God has established the authority of this nation: it says that the authorities of all nations at all times are established, permitted, by God.

      The USA was a secular nation with Judeo-Christian orientation at its founding. I too live under the US Constitution. I also choose to live under the Bible’s authority, but I do not expect anyone else to do the same. It is a secular nation still and despite the prattle of TV comedians, virtually no one wants it to be otherwise.

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      1. Nan

        The tone of your post gave me the strong impression that you believe God is in control of this nation. (Doesn’t the U.S. fall into the definition of “all nations?”) And, as such, it would be more fitting and appropriate for its leader to be a believer. Sorry if I misinterpreted.

        Of course, from my perspective, I fear such a person would promote and advance Christian ideals upon those who do not abide by the same teachings…. and would try to use the Constitution to validate their actions.

        IMO, what each of us needs to do is vote for the person that we believe will lead this Nation in the direction that benefits EVERYONE.

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        1. madblog Post author

          Absolutely, and I would, and have, voted for a person of different beliefs than myself without any reservations, if that person proposed a governing style which respected our Constitution.
          I would like to come back later and word my earlier answer better. I would like to be clearer and there’s more to be said.
          But rest assured I am not advocating a theocracy! lol

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  2. madblog Post author

    The passage quoted above in Romans 13 is not so much a political statement but an admonition to believers to have an appropriate respect for government, and in appropriate ways. Keep in mind that this was written by Paul under a Roman government which was heavy-handed and which had begun to brutally persecute Christians, the very people he was writing to.

    So this was no pie-in-the-sky. His readers knew the reality. But God’s message through Paul was: government (any gov’t, anywhere) is powerful. Respect its power. Fear its power if you do wrong because that power is going to land on you, and rightfully so. Do right and obey rightful authority. As a representative of His name, be a lawful person.

    On the other hand, says Jesus, give to government what belongs to government, and give to God what belongs to God. This is an admonition we need in our day.( Don’t give power or worship to gov’t which belongs to God.)

    Why obey government? Because that authority is permitted, and basically endorsed, by God. How can that be, considering all the brutally unjust governments in human history? Here’s where it gets difficult. There are accounts in the OT where God explicitly states that he has allowed a tyrant to rule and given him free reign in order for God, in a long-range view, to accomplish His good purposes. Some degree of trust in God’s holiness and desire to accomplish ultimate good for Himself and His faithful is required here ( with the understanding that anyone is welcome to become one of His faithful). Note that that cruel tyrant is also judged and suffers the consequences of his freely chosen actions. Always, every time. God is unfailingly just.

    This passage is important for believers to remember because it can help us put the political race in good perspective. We as Christian Americans need to understand just what type of government we have here, what are its powers, what are its limitations. And I believe we are accountable to apply that understanding to our actions, our voting choices, and our service to our nation.

    I respect and try to obey God’s will as communicated in His Word, and I also hold dear our American Constitution as the best writ that man has ever produced for empowering government to do good while limiting its power to behave tyrannically. The Bible encourages me to respect the Constitution and live with integrity under its authority.

    As a conservative-leaning person, that means that believe I am accountable to my gov’t to live lawfully, and to pay my taxes. And I expect the gov’t to defend me against foreign threats, to keep the peace, and to otherwise leave me alone.

    No one wants a theocracy headed by any human being. That, as is amply demonstrated in the OT, is a recipe for devastation. Check out I and II Kings. The overriding message: this is what happens when you tell God to stop ruling you and ask for humans to do it. But the best recipe for keeping that devastation in check so far is the U.S. Constitution.

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