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A Troublesome Bible Passage

October 14, 2020

I’m not making this up. This is Romans 13:1-7 in the New International Bible —

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.

But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

— Verses like these above have been used to commit atrocities. One glaring example was in Europe in the 1930s and 40s.

A Roman Catholic colleague told me when I was fresh out of seminary, “Be careful when you say, ‘My country, right or wrong’ because that’s kind of like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'”

What do you say?

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One Comment
  1. Karen Comeau permalink

    ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’ Is still my mother and according to God requires my honor. You are respecting the position they hold. It is the position you honor while the person will always be found wanting. This is why we need to pray for those in authority so the can do right by the position they hold. I respect what the badge the police officer wears stands for even though I remember the person wearing it as the kid who liked to throw across at cars. It is at time hard to separate the two.


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