In a matter of hours we will elect the next president of USA. I’m sure many will agree that this presidential election and campaigns have been very challenging - morally, spiritually and emotionally draining. It seems that people are more concerned about the elections to be over rather than to know who will be the next president. What does the Bible say about our attitude toward government and by what standards should we elect our leaders?
THOSE UNDER AUTHORITY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHOOSING GOOD LEADERS.
We read in the book of Deuteronomy that one of our duties is to elect good and moral leaders. “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20).
These verses anticipated a great problem for Israelites when they arrived in the Promise Land. Although they had Joshua as their national leader, however they failed to complete their task to choose other leaders who would lead them with justice and God’s wisdom. It is a serious responsibility to appoint or elect wise and just officials. Do we have good choices? Unfortunately we don’t, so tomorrow we should prayerfully make the best decision we can make and rely on God to guide the next President with wisdom and dignity.
THOSE UNDER AUTHORITY ARE RESPONSIBLE TO GOD, THEN THE STATE.
We read in St. Paul’s letter to Romans: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1).
Christians understand and interpret Romans 13 in many different ways. One thing however, everyone agrees on is that we are to live at peace with the state as long as the state allows us to live by our faith and religious convictions. None of the different views on Romans 13 advocate disobedience to the Government and its laws and regulations, unless they clearly require you to violate the moral standards reveled by God. We are called to be responsible citizens as well as responsible Christians.
THOSE UNDER AUTHORITY MUST BE LOYAL TO THE SOURCE OF ALL AUTHORITY.
Are there times we should not obey the government? We should never allow the government to force us to disobey God. Jesus and His apostles never disobeyed the government for personal reasons – when they disobeyed it was in order to follow their higher loyalty to God. Their disobedience wasn’t cheap – they were beaten, tortured and executed. We are blessed in our country to exercise our religious rights but many of our brothers and sisters make those hard choices every day. And often, we see that they chose to be martyred for their faith.
BELIEVERS SHOULD COOPERATE WITH AUTHORITIES WHEREVER POSSIBLE.
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1). "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him.” (Mark 12:17). As followers of Christ, our FIRST allegiance is to Jesus Christ our Lord, but we must also obey and support our government and its leaders. Moreover, it is our Christian duty to pray for them, even if we disagree with their policies and political views. No matter who the next president is, we are spouse to pray him/her. It has to be also clear that Christians are not above the law. Obeying the civil law is only the beginning of our Christian responsibility; we must also do everything in our ability to be good citizens. In a democracy, this means participation and willingness to serve. (See also Acts 5:29; Romans 13:2-14 for more on the Christian’s attitude toward government).
May the Lord help our country to have an uneventful presidential election tomorrow. May everything start and end peacefully, even if people disagree with the results.