The Christian's Duty to the Civil Magistrate
by Ryan Biese | November 20, 2014A couple of weeks ago in our Sunday School class we considered the Fifth Commandment, which teaches us how we are to live under all lawful authority. God in His word teaches us that He is the one who establishes and puts in place all authority and rulers. As such, he commands His people (and all people) to honor all those who are in authority.
The Christian does not have the right to disregard or dishonor a civil ruler simply because he or she dislikes or disagrees with him or his policies. Many in Christian communities believe it is acceptable to speak rudely of a President, Governor, Senator, Judge, or other ruler simply because in that person’s estimation the ruler is not doing what he or she ought to do or obeying God’s mandates.
But such a position is foreign to historic Christianity and utterly opposed to the commands of God in His word.
Consider two examples of how God commands His people to live toward their rulers:
I Peter 2:13-17 “Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution...Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
Romans 13.1-7 “...there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God...whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed...he is God’s servant...Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes...revenue...respect...honor...”
We should note that respect and honor do not always entail blind obedience, for we must always obey God over men. Nonetheless, in both of these instructions the Apostles wrote of pagan governments who were actively persecuting Christ’s Church and promoting wickedness. Christ did not die so that Christians could disregard or disrespect authorities whom they don’t like.