Here's a thought provoking article. It reflects on the morphing of our Republic into a democracy.
It’s well known throughout the land that the South is the most Christian region of America. People call us “The Bible Belt,” either with affection or disdain. It’s equally well known that the South is the most openly patriotic region as well. But what happens when our patriotism trumps our Christianity? What happens when worship of God becomes perverted into worship of the state? What happens when we allow humanistic law to supplant God’s law as the foundation of civil government? I'll tell you what happens—corruption, injustice, and tyranny—exactly what we have today in America. When that happens, moral and just people must withdraw their consent. Otherwise, we become accessories in the crimes and abuses of the state.
Many Christian Southerners are deeply confused over this simple, self-evident truth. Many pastors, who ought to be our spiritual leaders, are the worst offenders. You can often tell who they are. They’re the ones whose churches fly the American flag atop the Christian flag—that is, in a place of sovereignty. It would be wrong to symbolize the sovereignty of the state over the sovereignty of Christ even if our government were moral and just. But when government has degenerated into anti-Christian despotism, this practice is even more intolerable. Yet these are the same pastors who most often demand, “As a Christian, how can you advocate withdrawing consent? Romans 13 tells us to obey the governing authorities.”
A correct reading of Romans 13 would pose the question, “How can we not withdraw our consent?” Romans 13 tells us the civil magistrate, or governing authority, is a minister of God. The civil magistrate receives his authority from God and, as His representative, has no other authority. If the magistrate operates outside of God’s authority, he is no longer a minister of God and His Law, but a minister of Satan. God established the civil magistrate to be His servant or representative on Earth to uphold just law and restrain evil-doers. What do we do when he does not espouse the law of God as his standard? Such a magistrate has declared himself to be autonomous, which means he seeks to be a “law unto himself.” For such a magistrate, legislation simply becomes a means to realize his personal ambitions, greed, and lust for power. Such a magistrate would be exhibiting the very definition of tyranny—ruling apart from the sanction of God. If we obey this earthly ruler absolutely, then we have established him as the ultimate sovereign in place of God’s sovereignty.
Blind obedience to a magistrate who rules autonomously, even if our submission tries to assume a position of moral superiority, is a sin. (“I am obeying the wicked ruler as an act of sacrifice.”) God requires us to fear and obey the civil magistrate only insofar as the ruler himself fears and obeys God. In I Peter 2:13-15, we are again instructed to submit to the civil magistrates. However, we find in verse 17 the guiding principle under which this instruction is to be carried out—we must fear and obey God first.
Here’s a classic illustration of the principle from the Old Testament: the Hebrew midwives were commanded by Pharoah, the civil magistrate of Egypt, to put to death the male children being born of Hebrew women. Exodus 1:17 tells us the midwives refused to obey the Pharoah’s direct command. They feared God and knew His law was sovereign over the command of the Pharoah. In contrast, today we tolerate the forcible murder of thousands of innocent children protected in the womb, arguably the most sacred place on earth. Is our tolerance seen by God as tacit approval? Should we obey such a wicked practice by paying taxes to the state responsible for this holocaust? Yet we do it. Why? Out of fear of punishment? Yet whom should we most fear? They midwives answered correctly, and we see that God showed His approval of their brave obedience in Exodus 1: 20-21: So God was good to the midwives and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.
The Scriptures give us many other examples of God’s people disobeying the civil magistrates who have ceased to be servants of God or who issue commands in opposition to His Word. A principle is established that is consistent with every act of righteous disobedience to a wicked civil magistrate. The people of God didn’t just quietly sit on the fence to avoid having to make a choice. They did the exact opposite of the unGodly commands! To do less is to fear man rather than God. God is not fully obeyed unless we also do the complete opposite of tyranny.
In Daniel 6, King Darius decreed that no one could pray to any god but himself. Daniel refused to obey because he knew Darius had no such jurisdiction. But Daniel went further than quiet disobedience. He immediately went to his rooftop, made sure all the windows were open for anyone to see, and prayed three times a day to God. In I Kings 18, Jezebel commanded that the prophets of God should be destroyed, yet Obadiah preserved a hundred prophets alive in a cave. He did not stop there in his resistance. He not only refrained from slaying them, but also cared for them with meat and drink. In Acts 4, the Apostles Peter and John were arrested and ordered by the rulers and elders of the people to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. They replied boldly, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to heed you rather than God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard.” Upon their release they immediately resumed leading worship and publicly preaching Christ with all confidence. In Acts 5:29, they are heard saying, “We must obey God rather than men.”
It’s clear in Scripture that God not only holds individual men accountable for ignoring the evil acts of civil magistrates, but also holds His Church accountable. This is not good news for the “Obey the authorities in all things” crowd. Look at Leviticus 20:1-5 for a crystal clear example of how God responds to people who tolerate sin. Verse 5 says, “Then I Myself will set My face against that man and against his family, and I will cut off from among their people both him and all those who play the harlot after him, by playing the harlot after Molech.” We become harlots of the state when we choose to remain silent, thinking there is nothing we can do and voting for the lesser of two evils.
Examples abound in Scripture of collective responsibility when the people tolerate unGodly rulers. We see that whenever Israel failed to oppose their king who had abandoned the service of God, He chastised them for their negligence, ignorance, and stupidity. All of King Saul’s men died with him on the battlefield. Judgment fell upon these men because they did not oppose Saul when he violated the Law of God, but instead applauded his wicked persecution of David and the priests of the Lord. When the evil King Manasseh defiled the temple (II Chronicles 33), God afflicted all the people as well as Manasseh. Why? To warn Israel that if they did not keep the king within the limit of his authority, they would all be guilty and suffer because they offered no resistance to tyranny. In Jeremiah 5:30 the prophet exclaimed, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so!” God promised terrible judgment, including the absolute destruction of Jerusalem because His people tolerated sin from the prophets, priests, and princes. In verse 4:22 God called His children “stupid” because they tolerated sin. Ultimately God holds his people accountable for the acts of evil rulers because of the principle of implied consent—thus their complicity—in the rulers' outrages and abuses.
How far does the principle of withdrawing consent extend in Scripture? Even to the separation of a whole people from an unjust regime. II Chronicles 10 records the story of the new, inexperienced, and self-centered King Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and his reign of folly. As he applied the heavy hand of tyranny, the people rejected his reign. In verse 16 we see that “all Israel departed,” splitting the ancient kingdom into Judah and Israel. When King Rehoboam sent his deputy, Hadoram, to coerce them back under his authority, the sons of Israel stoned Hadoram to death. Verse 15 makes it clear this revolt was approved by God.
Yes, Romans 13 instructs us, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authority.” Every soul. That means all men and necessarily includes the civil magistrates themselves. They are just as subject to the authority of God’s law and civil law as any other man. The President and Congress are just as subject to the rule of law as any private citizen. If they rob the governed, they are thieves and ought to be punished as thieves, the same as any private person. If they commit murder in the name of the state, they are murderers just the same. They are not exempt from God’s laws simply because they hold public office. Why do we tolerate the special privileges these tyrants grant themselves? Who is to blame but the politically lazy citizen unwilling to do the hard work of sustaining the republic? If we do not withdraw consent from such governments, we must suffer the same fate as tyrants’ subjects around the world who tolerate corruption for a handful of crumbs from the oligarchs’ table, and whose consent forges the chains of their servitude.
I am not advocating that we take up arms and rush out in violent rebellion. Someday, someday soon in fact, it may be necessary and morally justified to defend ourselves in arms against the criminal state, but that day is not yet. If it does become necessary, it will not be we who are in rebellion, but the ruling class which has rebelled against the civil covenant and violated the declarations and laws which guarantee the basic rights of Southerners. The Scripture has much to say about how we should resist tyranny as well as making it clear that we should resist. But that must remain the subject of another article.
First, we have to get our hearts and our minds right before the Lord. When the civil magistrate rules outside the sanction of God by violating His laws, we are no longer constrained to obey him. We must choose to obey God rather than men. We can hide from this responsibility behind a false teaching of Romans 13, or behind false teachers and preachers who ought to know better. Let us heed the call of the Southern National Congress, kneeling in intercession before a mighty, just, and sovereign God who holds the fate of our Southern nation in His hands. Then, as we continue in repentance and prayer, we must begin to Withdraw Consent from a government which has forfeited our allegiance by its rebellion against God; and which moreover has abrogated its own laws, the Constitution of the United States, refusing to be bound by it and to govern under its constraints.
Jeff Brower is a Florida Delegate to the Southern National Congress. This article contains edited excerpts from a paper written by an exceptional 17-year-old man named Michael Billings. He delivered his original persuasive speech dressed in the spirit of the occasion of an Independence Day Jubilee. You can read these and many other writings from and about Michael in Life Is But a Vapor, edited by Wesley Strackbein and published by Vision Forum Ministries. On November 4, 2007, this brave defender of the faith was called home to be with the Lord. Michael G. Billings was 19 years old.
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