Romans 13 & Unlimited Subservience to the Government: Where should a Bible Believing Christian Draw the Line?
Do Christians who use Romans 13 to teach that we should not oppose President Bush or any other political leader, really believe that civil magistrates have unlimited authority to do anything they want without opposition? For example, what if our President decided to resurrect the old monarchal custom of Jus Primae Noctis (Law of First Night)? That was the old medieval custom when the king claimed the right to sleep with a subject’s bride on the first night of their marriage. Would our sincere Christian brethren sheepishly say, ‘Romans Chapter 13 says we must submit to the government’? I think not. And would any of us respect any man who would submit to such a law? So, there are limits to authority. All human authority is limited in nature. No man has unlimited authority over the lives of other men. (Lordship and Sovereignty is the exclusive domain of Jesus Christ.) Did John the Baptist violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he publicly scolded King Herod for his infidelity? Did Simon Peter and the other Apostles violate God’s principle of submission to authority when they refused to stop preaching on the streets of Jerusalem? Act 5:29: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” So, even the great prophets, apostles, and writers of the Bible (including the writer of Romans Chapter 13) understood that human authority–even civil authority–is limited.