Romans 13 and Obeying the Government
by Laurence M. Vance
June 13, 2012
I said last year in my article on “Romans 13 and National Defense” that I had been asked many times over the years to write something on Romans 13, that it was something I had thought about a great deal, and that it was something I knew that I must eventually do. Unfortunately, this is still not that article. However, because of questions about Romans 13 that I recently received and answered, I thought I would expand upon my answer here.
First, the text:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)
Christian apologists for the state’s military “defending our freedoms” and its wars “over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” incessantly quote their “obey the powers that be” mantra derived from Romans 13 in an attempt to justify their blind nationalism, American exceptionalism, flag waving, God and country rhetoric, warmongering, prayers for the troops, illicit affection for the military, and unholy desire to legitimize killing in war – as well as justify the state’s imperialism, militarism, and unjust wars.