In the week after the healthcare reform bill became law, I must say that I have been surprised at the reaction of some people. Certainly the reaction of jubilation on the side of those who supported the bill and angst on the side of those who did not support the bill is warranted. Two other responses that I have noticed concern me. There seems to be in addition to those attitudes a general sense of apathy or anarchy towards th government. How does a Christian respond to these attitudes?
Let me first say that we must recognize the Bible’s affirmation of government’s primary role. Romans 13:1-7, among other passages (Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-15, and John 19:11 to name a few) reveal to us that the government primarily is a reflection and extension of God’s authority over all things. Even though governments may act in ways that do not promote godliness, God allows them to do so in order to bring about his good purpose. Therefore to advance anarchy in the face of a legitimate government is to call into question God’s authority. Respect for government’s authority ensures tranquility. The leaders of our government whether we like it or not represent and act on our behalf. In our system of government we have a say at the ballot box, however at all other times we should pray for our leaders and support them as God’s representatives for us (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
Further it is the role of the government according to this passage to be God’s earthly representative in judging what is right and wrong, executing punishment wherever necessary. The government that legislates morality, appoints judges to hear cases, and enforces a moral code with punishments does the work of God by protecting the security of its citizens. To some extent the moral code that is enforced is not as important as the imperfect witness to an ultimate judgment by God for lawbreakers. If people understand our imperfect human justice they will understand the necessity of God’s judgment of sin as well as the reason for Jesus’ death as our substitute. For this reason we cannot be apathetic concerning the government’s right to legislate, judge, and enforce a moral code. We must unequivocally support a government’s right to protect security as they see fit since this is exactly what God is doing on a cosmic level.
So what implications does this have for Christians? I see three simple ones.
- We should vote our convictions at the ballot box, praying and supporting our leaders at all other times even when we disagree with them.
- We should pay our taxes knowing that it is the government that will be accountable to God for how the monies are spent.
- If the government makes a law against being a Christian, preaching the gospel rightly, witnessing to the lost, or against the right of an individual conscientiously object to a practice, we should be willing to endure any punishment the government sees fit to enforce. By doing this we support the right of the government and God to legislate, judge, and enforce the law without being complicit with the laws it creates.
In the case of this bill, since the government will be accountable to God for how the monies are spent, if more abortion or euthanasia occurs the blood is on their hands. When we pay taxes, we should not feel complicit unless we voted for a candidate whose support of these practices is known. If portions of this bill force us to make personal decisions such as it will those who practice medicine or pharmacy in regard to cost controlled care, we must act to please God while facing up to the consequences, even if that ends our career or increases the cost to us. So, please pray with me for our government as it takes on this major financial burden but more importantly as it takes on the burden for the care of sick and dying people.