I know how you feel about it but this is from “Newsweek” – with little in the way of Republican leaning or common sense about ethical matters. You probably love them. Still, here they are presenting the Department of Justice accusing and warning California Governor Gavin Newsom of illegal, unconstitutional and and immoral discrimination against the churches of the great state of California.
So now some can say it’s justifiable under the circumstances, or some can say they want the churches shut down anyway, or some can say we should obey the a government regardless of how evil their actions, or if they command us to do evil, or subject us to evil, or they can say that God said to obey even evil governments doing evil things for evil purposes, but no one can say that it is legal, constitutional or even good. No one can say we should obey this government at this time under these conditions.
“Obeying the governing authorities” necessarily implies resistance to tyrannical abuse, resistance against the closure of the churches, and proclaiming freedom to the captives.
The restrictions are unlawful and immoral and thus the Christian that intends to obey the government must stand against them, because to obey the government in good conscience now means to disobey the governor of the state, who’s decrees in regard to the churches are unlawful.
Honor the King, be obedient, fight, struggle. Do what is right. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God; therefore, submission to tyrants is that other thing.
Remember, the governor of the state of California is not the only law, nor even the highest law; there is a higher law and we have a duty to obey it. Here, we might want to reflect upon our duty to our neighbor to pray and act in regard to their best interests – and if the security and safety of their political rights is of no interest to us at all perhaps we should reconsider our theological interest itself.
God, our God, is no God of oppression and violence but a God that gives freedom. Freedom in salvation to the mind and the soul but also has a heavy investment in political freedom, making men and nations free to worship him in spirit and in truth. Be careful what you attempt to justify in the eye of the state because it may one day be the means of your own destruction too.
Here, any political assembly that practices repression of the person or the church can hardly be blessed by the God that promises freedom itself. There have been few times when the thriving or healthy church preached the Gospel boldly and with conviction during the reign of petty tyrants and bureaucrats. It happens but it isn’t common. Repression of the church is never the gift, and why the church under oppression prays for it’s heavy hand to be lifted from them. It feels acceptable as the means to a noble end only when the stripes will cross some other’s back.
Look around the world and see where the Gospel thrives in its full fire and consequence? We love to see the church grow and throw off its chains in China and Iran but the repressive forces there offend Christ all the same. Where the church is free the church wins eventually and where the church is stifled by the worldly powers it tends to falter. The Apostle never said the abuse of the church was good, only that God can use even that kind of evil to a good end. He wasn’t saying the evil was good in disguise or any such thing.
In any case we have no right to invite persecution upon our neighbors. We have no right to stand idly by and see them dragged off to prison or poverty. Churches don’t have the right to invite the abuse of their members. Societies don’t have any right to punish Christ as an accountermont to their self advancement.
The closing of the churches has always been illegal and immoral, though perhaps the churches have the authority to do so themselves as the wisdom of God might provide. But submission to tyranny and the abuse of authority has never had any good effect upon any people at any time, and God should be able to expect more from us here.
Rev. Neiswonger JD MA