13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 13:2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment 13:3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, 13:4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. 13:5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. 13:6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. 13:7 Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
As I review the whole 7 verse paragraph I’m struck with it doesn’t say. You’d think that in a passage dealing with a Christian’s response to the government there would be at least some hint about changing the government or at least influencing it or at at the very least some sentiment wishing it could be changed somehow into a God-honoring government.
Yet, I find it curious that in this passage there is not even one hint of anti-government sentiment. And this oversight is even more amazing since we know that the first-century Roman government was one much more corrupt than our own. In fact, the people writing and reading this book of Romans were in the process of being singled out for extermination! Yet every single verse here amazingly supports submitting to and respecting and honoring our God-given leaders.
Interestingly, earlier today I was criticized for having a passive view on government activism. The topic was Mr. Obama and the statement was something like, “Mark: stop shirking your responsibility! We must not let Obama have his way. Christians CANNOT just sit around idlely anymore.”
My question for that friend and all of us is this: where do you find this mandate for Christians to stop government corruption? Can you even find it alluded to anywhere in the New Testament or from early church history? You certainly can’t draw that conclusion from this passage!
I’m not inferring that it’s wrong to try to influence our government, so don’t get me wrong. What I’m asking is whether it’s a biblically supported priority or not. It seems that a much greater case can be made for submitting to government-as-is than for changing it in any way.
I’d honestly like the answer to this. Someone help me out here.