Should the Government Fear the People?

The other day, I quoted from Romans 13 a short passage regarding taxation and our responsibility thereto. Today, I came across an image which brought to mind another element of that passage:

Chaotic Good: Governments Should Be Afraid of Their People.
Chaotic Good: Governments Should Be Afraid of Their People.

Governments should be afraid of their people. But that hasn’t always been the case, nor should it be. A government which is afraid of its people is a government which can no longer rule, which will shirk its responsibilities of punishing the wicked the moment the wicked become a large enough group.

The Scriptures speak of men fearing the governments over them, and giving the only advice worth giving for living without fear of the government: obey your governors, and you will have no reason to fear them.

But blind obedience is foolish! Quite right. We’re not to obey the government if doing so causes us to disobey God, for it is better to obey God than man. But no other valid reason can be found to disobey the government.

We may not like the laws which are put in place over us, but if we are not required to disobey God in order to follow the laws, then we should honor the governing authorities by obeying them.

I realize this could potentially result in a situation which the natural man would abhor: high taxes, fewer freedoms, and so on. But for the spiritual man, obeying the Scriptures by honoring the governments of this world is — or at least ought to be — more than worth it.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Romans 13:1–5

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Should the Government Fear the People?”

  1. I’m a God-fearing man as well, which is why I consider myself bound to the words of Scripture. Paul, writing to Christians who lived under the rule of the Roman Empire, exhorted believers to honor and respect governments and gave no hint that they should revolt or otherwise cast off their oppressors.

    If he could say that about the Roman Empire — the persecution which Christians met under Roman rule is no secret — then how much more should we be able to say it today when most of us have it easier than probably 90% of Christians throughout history.

  2. I think you post is wrong. There are many cases that the government become so corrupt like the current government in the United States, that the should fear the people. Personally, I am a god fearing man, but I do believe in just, truth, and fairness to all living things.

    I just wish we were back in the day where we pull every politician out, tar and feather them and then ride them out of the country on a slow leaky boat or air drop them into some place like Iran.

  3. Justin Braton

    Well here’s someone I haven’t talked to in ages, almost a year, in fact! How have you been, Rick?

    I was contemplating on inviting you as a friend on Facebook a while back, but I figured that might have been a little too ackward for us.

    Boy, has your blog changed since I last saw it. You’ve been keeping busy. ^_^

    Well, I’m off. Just wanted to see what you’ve done with the place; been feeling a little nostalgic lately, what with graduating and moving to college. Take care, Rick! Much peace and many blessings!

  4. But Paul is speaking from the old ideas of government, that government derive their authority from god(s),as did the Roman government of his time and locale. From these old ideas came the divine right of kings, etc
    However, in modern times, in modern democracies, governments derive their authorit from the consent of those governed. This is written in the founding documents of the USA, and this principle operates in all the western democracies. I believe that this idea originally came from one John Locke.

    So, for Paul, and for the believer in divine authority, what you state would be logically correct. But in modern times and in the western democracies thisis not the case. since governments derive their authority from the governed (or the people), it logically follows that those people could withdraw their consent to be governed.

    Thus, in modern times and for the western democracies, governments Should fear the people.

    For Paul not so.

  5. James,

    Every government there has been has had to derive its authority from the people it governs, Rome included. When people revolt and do not listen to their governors the governors ability to rule is terminated, and there where hostile takeovers in Rome too. That doesn’t negate being placed by God weather the leader is elected, anointed, appointed, or crowned. Harsh governments have feared the people since long before Locke, the incident with Rehoboam and Jeroboam showed that.

    Functionally a democracy does not work as you describe either. If one could simply withdraw their consent to be governed certainly every criminal on trial would withdraw that consent and the state would have to set them free (for, they would have no authority to incarcerate them).

    I think Paul’s point stands, like it or lump it, but I also don’t think its totally clean cut either.

    On the other hand, a similar but slightly different argument for myself. I am, after all, a criminal per the letter of Canadian law. Canadian law (and American) is a system of Common law (except Quebec) and therefore there is built in room to contest and actively oppose existing laws. To that end I have no moral problem breaking Canadian law in the spirit of the Canadian legal system. Its even easier since the laws I’m breaking or conspiring to break are being contested already.

  6. If the ruler is the servant of God, of course this would apply according to the scripture. But in America today many actually are servants of Lucifer, attending the Bohemian Groves and praying to demon spirits and following luciferian beliefs. (Do a search of Bohemian Groves if you don’t believe it.) I wonder what you would do in Hitler’s Germany when you were supposed to turn in your neighbor. Boy I think I wouldn’t want you for a neighbor buddy Rich. You’ve already honestly stated your position though so at least we all know what to expect from you. Thanks for your honesty!

  7. Arial, keep in mind that what Paul said about obeying & honoring the government was written in the context of Rome. Regardless of what we think about America, the Roman Empire was much more antichristian than just about any nation currently active… yet Paul says to honor the rulers and to obey them.

    Thanks also for twisting my words and implying that I would side with the government over acting lovingly toward my neighbor; please go back and re-read my post, particularly the part about blind obedience.

    Thanks for the comment.

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