Life’s decisions are seldom simple. Christian ethics aren’t always as easy as some would like to make them out to be. There sometimes is a conflict between God and government.
The religious high court told Jesus’ followers, Peter and John, “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Although the court had the authority to make that demand, Peter and John immediately answered that they would disobey the ruling because their ultimate allegiance was to God and not to government.
What if everybody did this? If we each decided to pray about what speed we should drive instead of accepting the speed limit laws, we would have automotive chaos. On the other hand, if government must be obeyed without dissent, we have the potential for totalitarian oppression.
Listen to what the New Testament teaches, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”
That seems pretty clear to me! Christians are to keep all laws. Yet those words were written by Peter – the one who told his leaders he was going to defy their orders to keep quiet about Jesus.
The broad Christian principle here is that Christians should do their best to obey every law even when the laws are wrong. However, there are limits. God is our highest authority and we must ultimately obey God even if it means breaking the law.
Related Scripture: I Peter 2:13-14
© 2007 Leith Anderson