Investigating the Bible: What about civil disobedience?


America has a history of disobedience. At the 1773 Boston Tea Party, rebels tossed a shipment of British tea into the ocean to protest government taxation without representation. Henry David Thoreau spent a night in jail, refusing to pay a poll tax because of his opposition to the Mexican-American war and slavery. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led many non-violent protests against segregation laws until his assassination on April 4, 1968.

The apostle Paul wrote: “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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13: 1-2 and all quotes from English Standard Version). Were those protesting Americans disobeying the Bible?

In Egypt, after the death of Joseph, a new king arose who enslaved the Jews and decreed that all male Hebrew babies should be killed at birth. “But the Hebrew midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them ...” (Exodus 1:17). This disobedience resulted in the survival of baby Moses, who later led the Jews out of Egypt. The prophet Daniel refused a king’s edict forbidding prayer and was thrown for a night in a den full of hungry lions. He was saved when God “… sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, …” (Daniel 6:21).

In the New Testament, Jesus “… drove out all who sold and bought in the temple and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13).

So, what about Paul’s advice to submit to the government in Romans chapter 13? The next verse in that chapter shows the kind of laws Paul said merit our obedience: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good.” (Romans 13:3-4).

During COVID-19, governments shut down public worship, stating it risked public health. At the same time, some leaders stood in huge crowds protesting racism without masks. As one news source stated , social justice mattered more than social distance. It was then that some churches decided to reopen their doors. The recent movie, “The Essential Church”, documents their struggles, including two Canadian pastors who each spent a month in jail for holding in-person worship services.

So, when to obey and disobey? First, ask if the rule or law is in God’s territory. Jesus said while looking at a Roman coin engraved with Caesar’s image, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21).

Second, ask if government disobedience is required to obey God. It was for Daniel and the racism Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encountered. Peter and the apostles were arrested twice and wouldn’t stop preaching the good news of Jesus. He said, “‘We must obey God rather than men.’” (Acts 5: 28-29). Third, ask your believing family of God. Do not act alone. When Peter took his stand against the ruling authorities and would not be silent, he used the pronoun “we”. All the apostles agreed on this resistance. The Bible not only allows civil disobedience, sometimes it is obedience to God.

An inspired wise teacher of long ago wrote: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: “…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;…” (Ecclesiastes 3:5-7).

David Pastor (yes, that is his last name but not his profession) is an Oregon resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div., M.Th.)



I wonder what the Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims say on the subject…

This writer is NOT a scholar. He is a preacher, spreading the Word without examining it.

Bart Ehrman, PhD, former Chair of religious studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, states the Bible is unreliable and unstable. He gives as an example the story of the woman at the well. The story is NOT in ANY Bible extant until 1,000 years after Jesus was allegedly crucified. That’s only one example of the thousands he talks about.

Stop this evangelizing. A newspaper is not the place. Save your brand of truth drama for the stage on Sundays.


I love cheetos. So crunchy and cheesy. The orangey dust that gets stuck to your fingers is called "cheetle".

Praise be to Chester Cheetah. May the cheetle be with you....too.

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