So, to more or less pick up where I left off (though I won’t discuss secession in this post), the logical conclusion to my reasoning is that the Revolutionary War was “morally wrong.” I know a lot of people will look at that and say, “Hold it. Isn’t standing up for what you believe in right? Isn’t fighting for freedom right?” Well, yes. Knowing what we believe and defending it is most certainly right. Fighting for freedom is right also, provided we stay within the law.
Provided. What a terrible word. Because of it, entire empires have fallen.
Anyway, most Christians are familiar with Romans 13:1-2,* which says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” To me, these verses clearly state that we, as Christians, are to defer to any and all authority, insofar as that authority isn’t telling us to disobey God. Thus, for the Americans to fight the British for independence isn’t biblically—or, by extension, morally—acceptable. The British weren’t telling the Americans to disobey God, so to fight the British for independence was unacceptable.
I’ve heard all kinds of counterarguments to Romans 13, ranging from the Machiavellian (“The Americans wouldn’t have gotten freedom without violence”—as if we’re entitled to freedom) to the non sequitur (“Since the rest of Romans 13 says that the authorities will reward good and punish evil, we’re only supposed to submit to authority if it does those things”—even though Romans 13 was written when Nero was the patently ungodly and unfair “governing authority” of Rome).
The non sequitur is almost plausible if we don’t consider any other verses that relate to authority. However, upon further searching, these verses come up. When taken together, they essentially tell us to obey authority without argument. For example: 1 Peter 2:13-17 – “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” Titus 3:1-2 – “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” Mark 2:17 (and Luke 20:25 and Matthew 22:21) – “And Jesus said to them [the Jewish spiritual leaders], ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.’ And they were amazed at Him.”
… And so on and so forth.
If I continue in this vein, I’m apt to get preachy. Therefore, to spare my readers, I’ll assume that I’ve established that, according to the Bible, disobeying authority is wrong.
“Now wait a minute,” most people will cry. “What about Martin Luther King, Jr.? And what about Gandhi? Were they wrong to peacefully resist unfair measures?” The key word here is peacefully. In America—and in several other countries—It is legally acceptable to peacefully protest a law that appears unfair. In fact, this action seems to have become somewhat normal. Thus, to join a march or something comparable is not morally wrong (unless it becomes violent). We are remaining subject to the governing authorities while expressing our desire for change of some kind.
None of this is to say that I don’t believe that freedom shouldn’t be protected. We in the United States have a lot of legal freedom, which we should protect with legal measures. Are we really “endowed by our Creator with… liberty,” though? Biblically, no. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we have a right to liberty. Thus, it’s biblically wrong to fight illegally for liberty, since liberty is a privilege, not a right, and since it’s wrong to disobey authority.
I’ve packed a lot into this post, and I’m sorry for its slightly horrendous length. I’ll split the next topic into smaller sections that will hopefully be easier to read. =P
*In all Bible quotations, I’ve used the New American Standard Bible.