Most followers of Jesus in America are confused about their role as citizens of the United States and their obligations to government, not because they don’t understand God’s command, but because they have not deeply considered the implications of God’s command within the context of a constitutional republic.
Romans 13:1 commands, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (NIV). In Paul’s day this meant, first and foremost, obeying Caesar, the head of the government. Paul appealed to Caesar when he did not receive justice from Festus, the governor of Judea. Jesus instructed, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” The only escape clause to this principle is if and when the Constitution clearly requires you to do something contrary to the Word of God.
In the United States the highest of our “governing authorities” is not Caesar, but the Constitution. The president, every congressman, senator, federal judge and soldier takes an oath of office swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Every new immigrant who wishes to become a naturalized U.S. citizen must also take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution—not the president, not the Congress, not the Supreme Court. If they do not, they are not allowed to become a U.S. citizen.
For example, the Presidential Oath of Office says:
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
All the other oaths are similar.
Here’s the point. In the United States of America, the Constitution is king—as “established” by God, according to Romans 13:1. Therefore, when forced to choose between obeying the Constitution or a rogue bureaucrat or a misguided soul clothed in black robes, we must always obey the Constitution. Based on Romans 13:1 it is our Christian duty before God.
In light of that, it is not civil disobedience to oppose a judge or bureaucrat who violates the Constitution (our king). This is critical to understand. Instead, it is our spiritual duty to oppose officials who violate the Constitution. Based on Romans 13:1, submitting to a judicial ruling or law that violates the Constitution is sin, unless the Constitution itself is in violation of God’s law.
In such circumstances the critical question every sincere follower of Jesus in America needs to ask themselves is, “Will I obey or disobey the Constitution of the United States?”
When a judge’s ruling violates a citizen’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, due process or equal protection under the law, it is always our sacred obligation to uphold the Constitution (our king) and oppose the wayward official. The choice is between obeying a judge (a functionary) or the Constitution (our God-ordained king).
When a bureaucrat or judge says you violated “separation of church and state” by praying in school or a government facility, you have ZERO moral or legal obligation to comply. Why? Because “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution, but the “free exercise” of religion is, which means, the federal government may not censor or prohibit your religious speech. And, again, the Constitution is king.
But that is not all. A judge only has moral authority because the Constitution bestows it. When a judge violates his oath of office by not upholding the Constitution, he forfeits his moral authority. He may still retain coercive power, but never confuse power with legitimate moral authority. Think Hitler: he had great power but no moral authority.
Why do I even address this issue? Every Christian needs to understand that when a judge, politician or bureaucrat violates a clearly enumerated Constitutional right, we have a moral obligation to vigorously oppose all such faithless government officials who set themselves up against the Constitution (our king), even if they are a Supreme Court Justice. It is not an issue of civil disobedience. Let me repeat. It is not an issue of civil disobedience. It is an issue of whether we will obey or disobey the Constitution, and therefore God’s command. And remember, disobeying God is sin.
In America, the Constitution is Caesar. If Jesus walked among us today, his words might have sounded like this, “Render unto the Constitution what is the Constitution’s, and unto God what is God’s.”
GOD is the issue.