Christians Should Always Obey the Law

What Would You Say?

Christians should always obey the law You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Is it ever ok for Christians to disobey the law?” What would you say? People should obey the law. Social order is good and our laws preserve the social order. If people only obeyed the laws they like, the result would be chaos. But what about when laws are bad? Should Christians obey bad laws too? The next time someone says that Christians should always obey the law, in all cases, remember these four things. Number one: All authority is from God. The Christian understanding of government begins with recognizing where it came from. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 13 that, “there is no authority except from God.” Every God-ordained social institution including the government, the church, and the family were created by God to serve different roles. Each has a unique purpose. One of the ways Christians show submission to God is by submitting to the authorities that God has created. Which leads to the second point. Christians should obey the law. Though it’s a practical necessity for all people to obey the law, for Christians it is also part of discipleship. The Apostle Peter instructs us in 1 Peter 2, to “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” These instructions to obey the law were written to Christians living in the Roman Empire under Nero, one of the most wicked rulers the world has ever seen. So, the duty to obey the law applies even when bad people are in authority. Does that mean Christians have to obey any law, even if it’s bad? That leads us to the third point. Challenging a law is one way of submitting to it. Christians throughout history have refused to accept the status quo and worked within the law to change the law. The Apostle Paul defended his personal legal rights as a Roman citizen. William Wilberforce worked to change the law and eliminate the injustice of slavery. Using the law to challenge the law is not only acceptable for Christians, it may be an obligation. Is there ever a time when Christians must disobey the law? That leads us to our fourth point. Sometimes Christians must disobey man’s law in order to obey God. The same Apostle Peter who told the church to “Be subject to every human institution” was told by the political leaders of his day to stop telling people about Jesus. He did not comply. As the book of Acts records, Peter proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than men” and continued to do the things men told him not to do because God had said to do them. (Acts 5:29) And he is far from the only biblical example of someone who broke man’s law in service of a higher law. When Pharaoh commanded the Egyptian midwives to put newborn Hebrew baby boys to death, they refused and God approved of their disobedience (Exodus 1:17, 21) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship a golden statue and God rewarded their obedience by rescuing them from a furnace. (Daniel 3:13-27) Queen Esther became a hero when she disobeyed the law by going to see King Ahasuerus without being invited in an effort to save the Jews from genocide (Esth. 4:16). The prophet Daniel, likewise, disobeyed a law that prohibited him from praying to God. (Dan 6:10) And there’s examples in Church History as well. In the Fourth Century, Saint Augustine explained that in some cases Christians must disobey the law because “an unjust law is no law at all.” This sentiment was repeated in the 13th Century by Thomas Aquinas and in the 20th century by Martin Luther King Jr. as he led civil disobedience in the name of civil rights. While a speed limit of 55 mph rather than 75 mph might be frustrating, there’s no conflict with God’s law. However, a law prohibiting worship or requiring abortions would conflict with God’s law and therefore Christians would have a duty to disobey. Jesus said to give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. We should do this gladly, but under no circumstances should we give to Caesar that which is God’s. So next time someone tells you that Christians have to obey the law regardless of what the law says, remember these four things. Number 1: God created Government. Christians show submission to God by submitting to authorities God created. Number 2: Christians should obey the law. God calls Christians to be obedient, faithful citizens, even in cases of bad leadership. Number 3: Working within the law to challenge bad laws is not only acceptable for Christians, it may be an obligation. Number 4: Christians cannot obey man’s laws if it conflicts with God’s law. Both scripture and church history are filled with evidence that the duty to obey man’s law ends when it calls for disobedience to God’s law. For What Would You Say, I’m Brooke McIntire. Thanks for watching. If you liked our video, make sure you hit subscribe so you can see the next one and join the conversation in the comments below.