The Christian and Civil Disobedience


“Non-Violent Direct Action Rescue” (NDA)

I. Human Government is a Blessing of God

Romans 13:1-7 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. 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 he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent 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 because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    • God has established ALL governments.
    • The tool he gives the government is the sword (force).
    • Through them God wishes to bless us with:
    • Law and order, Romans 13:4
    • Peaceful circumstances for Christian living, I Tim.2:2
    • Protection of human life, Gen. 9:6
    • Protection of the weak and helpless, Ps. 82:3

II. The Christian Owes Obedience and Support to His Government

Romans 13:1-7

  • Obedience is absolute, so that we focus on the principle and not on the exceptions which may occur.
  • Obedience is not optional, but a matter of conscience.
  • Disobedience is rebelling against what God has instituted
  • We owe the government our obedience and support (also Matt. 22:21); we may also give our service, Lk. 3:12-14.
  • Individuals are not to usurp the government’s responsibility or its tools, Romans 12:17-21.

III. The Christian’s Obedience to Government is Limited

Acts 5:29 We ought to obey God rather than men!

  • The Christian’s first allegiance is to God and his will as revealed in his word.
  • Because individuals in governing positions are sinful, the possibility exists that they will contradict God. In these matters the Christian must follow his conscience which he has allowed to be instructed by God’s word Romans 14:23.
  • Although this verse states a divine principle, it is already applied to a specific situation: not all situations are the same.

IV. The Christian is to Respond When Innocent Human Life is Endangered

Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this.” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

  • Rescuing human beings whose life is in danger is part of God’s holy will for us; it is part of the positive implications of the Fifth Commandment: “…help and be a friend to (your neighbor) in every bodily need.”
  • The opposite of “rescue” in this context, however, is to turn a deaf ear or to feign ignorance.
  • God will judge the motive in the heart of the person who does not act on behalf of his neighbor.
  • The verse does not insist on civil disobedience as the only way, or even as one of many ways to meet its requirements.

Should Christian Life Resources at any level be involved in NDA operations?

The answer must be “no.” By definition Christian Life Resources is an arm of the church. Its purpose is not political or social (although its functions may overlap with those spheres), nor is it attempting to replace the government when that institution fails in its responsibility. It is working to further the Kingdom of God in the face of grievous sins against the sanctity of human life. Its tools, therefore, are the Law and Gospel of God’s Word and prayer.

Should WELS Christians be involved in NDA operations?

  • On the one hand:
    • our sympathies lie with these people
    • we must act according to our consciences
  • On the other hand:
  • NDA is civil disobedience
  • it is the use of force (I force somebody to stop.)
  • there are other positive ways to respond (preaching, praying, working in a pregnancy counseling center, educating, legal protesting, political action, sidewalk counseling, picketing, etc.) If God’s will can be fulfilled without disobeying the government, do I have any right to disobey?
  • there are no real limits to the reasoning that justifies civil disobedience (It can justify blowing up clinics as much as it can justify blocking them non-violently)
  • open questions:
    • Is NDA so effective that it becomes a necessity in citizen’s arsenal fighting against abortion?
    • Is it the best use of a citizen’s resources? (fines, possible time in jail, public opinion, etc.)
  • There may be fellowship problems for a WELS Christian.

PASSAGES:

1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

Psalm 82:3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

Matthew 22:21 Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

Luke 3:12-14 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.”

Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 14:23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 13:1-7 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. 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 he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent 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 because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this.” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done


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