Saturday, 10 November 2007

Separation of Church and State

Let's look at what Romans 13 has to say: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Since the Father has placed Jesus "at his right hand in heaven, far above every principality, authority, power and dominion...", clearly the state does not have ultimate authority. It receives its authority from God - but final authority belongs to Jesus. A couple of conclusions follow.

First, as we honor Christ, Christians must honor all legitimate authority. St. Paul was writing to people who resided at the heart of a powerful empire. They saw first hand the arrogance and venality of Roman rulers. Nevertheless, he tells the Roman Christians to respect and obey those who govern. In addition, St. Paul knew that a Roman official had carried out the most unjust act in human history: the gruesome execution of the one completely innocent man. Still, St. Paul instructs us to not rebel against those in authority.

After acknowledging our duty to legitimate authority, we must immediately add something else: human authority for us can never have the last word. That belongs to Jesus. He is the one who has taken his place at the Father's right hand. When the authorities in Jerusalem attempted to silence the apostles, Peter replied, "We must obey God rather than men."

Thus, as Christians, we must obey legitimate authority - unless it goes against the law of God. While we always show respect for civil officials (even the corrupt ones), we do not give them first place. That belongs to the One who sits at the right hand of the Father above every power and authority. We pray for those who govern us - even if we did not vote for them - and we honor them. But we save the greatest honor and joy for the Lord. Along with the psalmist we say: He mounts his throne to shouts of joy, a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

How does this apply to us as citizens? I believe we must let the government does its job. No government can do their job well if they must always step carefully. They will end up taking the safest route (i.e. the politically-correct route)- which may not always entail doing the right thing enthusiastically. We must also realise that the government is made up of ordinary people as capable of doing great things and committing great sins as you and I. They should have our benefit of the doubt, and if they realy do something wrong it is up to the judiciary system to do something about it. The best thing we can do as citizens is to let politicians and bureaucrats know if they do something we don't approve of, and if worse comes to the worst just don't elect them (or their bosses).

(Adapted and adopted from )


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