Obey Every Government?


#1

Hello everyone,
Recently, I have had a little doubt about the exact meaning of the following passage which is Romans 13:1-7:
1Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.
2Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.
3For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority. Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it,
4for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
6This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

I am just very confused with this. Usually, if I have a question about the exact meaning of a passage, I can find some good commentary or something similar online that clarifies any questions, but I couldn’t find anything satisfactory for this passage. Unless I am missing something, it seems as if it is saying that God puts ALL governments in power, and if we oppose them in any way, we are sinning and rebelling against God. However, doesn’t that then mean that Gandhi and Thoreau sinned when they peacefully disobeyed the government. Thoreau didn’t pay his taxes in protest of the extremely unjust Mexican-American war, and, to me, this seems like something just and right, since we are called to oppose war and fight for peace in every case. Yet, according to Paul, Thoreau sinned by doing this because the US government that fought the war was put there by God.

Furthermore, in the United States abortion is allowed even though we are sharply opposed to it. We are so opposed to it that there is the pro-life march each year in protest of it. Yet, according to Paul, the government, who ruled that abortion is fine, was put there by God so opposing it as we do is a sin.

Maybe I am missing something here or maybe there is some exegetical explanation for this. Thanks ahead of time.


#2

We should obey every just law. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were correct in civil disobedience to unjust laws. Laws allowing the abortion of innocent children and forcing taxpayers to pay for it are obviously unjust laws.

Father Frank Pavone: Catholics and Civil Disobedience


#3

Hello DomSavio2.

I think it is important to ask who Paul is writing to and which authorities he is speaking about.

It doesn’t mean we have to respect very bad ‘authorities’ in every situation for all time.

Here for example is a Papal encyclical targeting National Socialism of Germany in 1937.

papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11BRENN.HTM


#4

Hi again DomSavio2,

I think some of the relevant words are from paragraph 21.

…" In your country, Venerable Brethren, voices are swelling into a chorus urging people to leave the Church, and among the leaders there is more than one whose official position is intended to create the impression that this infidelity to Christ the King constitutes a signal and meritorious act of loyalty to the modern State. Secret and open measures of intimidation, the threat of economic and civic disabilities, bear on the loyalty of certain classes of Catholic functionaries, a pressure which violates every human right and dignity. Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism. If the oppressor offers one the Judas bargain of apostasy he can only, at the cost of every worldly sacrifice, answer with Our Lord: “Begone, Satan! For it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. iv. 10). And turning to the Church, he shall say: “Thou, my mother since my infancy, the solace of my life and advocate at my death, may my tongue cleave to my palate if, yielding to worldly promises or threats, I betray the vows of my baptism.” As to those who imagine that they can reconcile exterior infidelity to one and the same Church, let them hear Our Lord’s warning: – “He that shall deny me before men shall be denied before the angels of God”"…

It Basically says here that Hitler’s authorities are Satan and must be rejected in favour of the Church,

and also paragraph 31.

…"31. The believer has an absolute right to profess his Faith and live according to its dictates. Laws which impede this profession and practice of Faith are against natural law.

Parents who are earnest and conscious of their educative duties, have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions. Laws and measures which in school questions fail to respect this freedom of the parents go against natural law, and are immoral. The Church, whose mission it is to preserve and explain the natural law, as it is divine in its origin, cannot but declare that the recent enrolment into schools organized without a semblance of freedom, is the result of unjust pressure, and is a violation of every common right. "

and second half of paragraph 34.

…"as We see you threatened with new dangers and new molestations, We say to you: If any one should preach to you a Gospel other than the one you received on the knees of a pious mother, from the lips of a believing father, or through teaching faithful to God and His Church, “let him be anathema” (Gal. i. 9). If the State organizes a national youth, and makes this organization obligatory to all, then, without prejudice to rights of religious associations, it is the absolute right of youths as well as of parents to see to it that this organization is purged of all manifestations hostile to the Church and Christianity. These manifestations are even today placing Christian parents in a painful alternative, as they cannot give to the State what they owe to God alone. "

and the beginning of the last paragraph, 43

…"He who searches the hearts and reins (Psalm vii. 10) is Our witness that We have no greater desire than to see in Germany the restoration of a true peace between Church and State. But if, without any fault of Ours, this peace is not to come, then the Church of God will defend her rights and her freedom in the name of the Almighty whose arm has not shortened. "

I can’t help but be proud of the way the Pope stood up to the Nazis, who of course, together with International Socialism, were two great evil authorities of the 20th century and needed to be opposed.

Regards,
Abucs.


#5

The highest authority there is is God. Obedience to His laws carries precedence. Paul is not making God’s moral laws secondary to those of government.

2Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.
3For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority. Then **do what is good **and you will receive approval from it,
4for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
6This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

.

Ponder awhile the bolded, underlined words. You will see how Paul connects his teaching to actions that are good and not evil. As a matter of fact in verse 4 he says that if we do what is evil we need to be afraid. (Keep in mind it is God who determines what is good and what is evil.)

As Jesus has told us: * “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” * (Mt. 22:21; Luke 20:25)
If there is a conflict between the 2, our first and overriding allegiance is to God.
(Mt. 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?)
The “great and first” commandment is to love God with our whole mind, heart, strength. (Mt. 22:37-38)
And as St. John tells us, we do this by keeping God’s commandments: 1 John 5:3 *For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. *


#6

=DomSavio2;11867111]Hello everyone,
Recently, I have had a little doubt about the exact meaning of the following passage which is Romans 13:1-7:
1Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.
2Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.
3For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority. Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it,
4for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
6This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

I am just very confused with this. Usually, if I have a question about the exact meaning of a passage, I can find some good commentary or something similar online that clarifies any questions, but I couldn’t find anything satisfactory for this passage. Unless I am missing something, it seems as if it is saying that God puts ALL governments in power, and if we oppose them in any way, we are sinning and rebelling against God. However, doesn’t that then mean that Gandhi and Thoreau sinned when they peacefully disobeyed the government. Thoreau didn’t pay his taxes in protest of the extremely unjust Mexican-American war, and, to me, this seems like something just and right, since we are called to oppose war and fight for peace in every case. Yet, according to Paul, Thoreau sinned by doing this because the US government that fought the war was put there by God.

Furthermore, in the United States abortion is allowed even though we are sharply opposed to it. We are so opposed to it that there is the pro-life march each year in protest of it. Yet, according to Paul, the government, who ruled that abortion is fine, was put there by God so opposing it as we do is a sin.

Maybe I am missing something here or maybe there is some exegetical explanation for this. Thanks ahead of time.


#7

=DomSavio2;11867111]Hello everyone,
Recently, I have had a little doubt about the exact meaning of the following passage which is Romans 13:1-7:
1Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.
2Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.
3For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority. Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it,
4for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
6This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

I am just very confused with this. Usually, if I have a question about the exact meaning of a passage, I can find some good commentary or something similar online that clarifies any questions, but I couldn’t find anything satisfactory for this passage. Unless I am missing something, it seems as if it is saying that God puts ALL governments in power, and if we oppose them in any way, we are sinning and rebelling against God. However, doesn’t that then mean that Gandhi and Thoreau sinned when they peacefully disobeyed the government. Thoreau didn’t pay his taxes in protest of the extremely unjust Mexican-American war, and, to me, this seems like something just and right, since we are called to oppose war and fight for peace in every case. Yet, according to Paul, Thoreau sinned by doing this because the US government that fought the war was put there by God.

Furthermore, in the United States abortion is allowed even though we are sharply opposed to it. We are so opposed to it that there is the pro-life march each year in protest of it. Yet, according to Paul, the government, who ruled that abortion is fine, was put there by God so opposing it as we do is a sin.

Maybe I am missing something here or maybe there is some exegetical explanation for this. Thanks ahead of time.

Thanks for asking:)

1st. The Douay Bible reads differently: v 1-7 “Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God’ s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’ s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For therefore also you pay tribute. For they are the ministers of God, serving unto this purpose.** Render therefore to all men their dues**. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honour, to whom honour”

The meaning can be summed up in what Christ replied to the Pharisees who tried to trick Him: “GIVE TO CEASAR WAHT IS CEASARS AND TO GOD WHAT IS GOD’S” [Mt. 22: 15-21]

What Christ is saying is DO WHAT IS JUST!

God first
Family second
work third
and so-on

We not only have a right NOT to obey Governments intervention into religious affairs; we have a obligation to oppose such tactics. THAT is why one commits a Mortal sin in voting for Pro-CHOICE candidates, for example.

Give what is MORALLY DUE, because that IS “Just”

God B;ess you,
Patrick


#8

Wouldn’t you also have to say that the other side was also put their by God?


#9

Of course, all governmental authority comes from God. Remember God tells the prophet Habakuk that he is raising up the Chaldeans (the Babylonians) to come and destroy Judah because they have been faithless to the covenant. So I think any sober reading of Scripture leads a to conclusion that sinful nations are punished with sinful rulers.

So consider Paul, he is writing to the Christians in persecution in Rome, which was extremely pagan and wicked, and the king was Nero, but nevertheless Paul says to recognize that even Nero rules according to the hand of God, and therefore pay your taxes and live in peace. But no where does he say burn incense to Caesar and say “Caesar is God!” There is a difference. To be salt and light means to be in the world but not of it, and so be at peace with your sinful brothers because by your goodness you bless the unsaved and perhaps lead them to salvation.

To that end I think it is unfitting to rail against the elected authority. Of course vote according to your conscience but to create a lot of noise about your opposition to a political leader and little noise about the Godpel creates confusion about the Gospel and what the church is and should be. Therefore be sly as serpents and gentle as doves and do not allow your conscience to be violated for the sake of saying peace peace when there is no peace, but neither go into the marketplace and start turning over apple carts for Christ because we are to love those who hate us and persecute us and spitefully use us and speak ill of us. If we do not love them then we are like them and how will the world know the God we worship has changed us into anything other than an image of the world when we look just like world and fight as the world does?

God Bless


#10

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