Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Tyranny of Romans 13

As a follow up to last week's conversation with a religious statist, I am going to look at the reason such a person would give up his own reason and common sense and be so worshipful and obedient to tyrannical authorities. Although it will seem as if I am only picking on Christianity, that is not the case. All monotheistic religions tend toward authoritarianism. Islam, Judaism and Christianity all share the same God, whether Christians want to believe that or not. In a future essay, I will deal with the tyranny of Islam and it's injunction of obedience to government. These essays will not be politically correct.

Here is Romans 13 in it's entirety:

Let everyone obey the authorities that are over him, for there is no authority except from God and all authority that exists is established by God.

As a consequence, the man who opposes authority rebels against the ordinance of God; those who resist thus draw condemnation down upon themselves. Rulers cause no fear when a man does what is right but only when his conduct is evil. Do you wish to be free from the fear of authority? Do what is right and you will gain it's approval, for the ruler is God's servant to work for good. Only if you do wrong ought you to be afraid. It is not without purpose that the ruler carries the sword; he is God's servant, to inflict his avenging wrath upon the wrongdoer. You must obey then, not only to escape punishment but also for conscience sake. You pay taxes for the same reason, magistrates being God's ministers who devote themselves to his service with unremitting care. Pay each one his due: taxes to who taxes are due; toll to whom toll is due; respect and honor to everyone who deserves them.

This is the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, which kept millions enslaved until the American and French Revolutions broke the door for rebellion wide open. According to the Bible, the Founders and all who rebelled against the English king were not only traitors, but condemned to Hell! This is a doctrine of slavery. It places government, which has nothing to do with God, on a pedestal. If you really wanted to be strict about it, this must mean that the Russian Czars, Hitler, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc, were appointed by God! What a contrived ideal. This ideal only serves the state and ruling elites! Reject this doctrine.

I am a Taoist. I follow the ideal that there is a cosmic mystery, but that God, is within you. God and evil are within you, real truth does not come from the outside, but from within. I do not say this to convert you to my belief system, I only say this to show you that not all religious beliefs are tyrannical and irrational. You must find your own truth. One truth, I think all human beings share deep down is a desire to be free and a love of liberty. Embrace this desire and make the world a better place.


Kevin Craig said...

I have been the Libertarian Party nominee for U.S. Congress four times. I am also a Bible-believing Christian fundamentalist. I agree with your "religious statist" acquaintance that America's War for Independence was unChristian. However, I am not a statist, so I also believe that once the government had been abolished, America's Founding Fathers should not have replaced it. I believe all taxation is theft, however as a Christian I follow the Biblical commands -- including those commands in Romans 13 -- to pay all required taxes. I disagree with your "religious statist" acquaintance that Romans 13 says that governments have a right to tax, or are in any way excused for their violation of the command "Thou shalt not steal." I have a website that explains what Romans 13 really means, and how it is not inconsistent with my being an anarchist.

DL said...

Mr. Craig,

I admire you anarchism,and I agree that taxation is theft. I differ from you, though. I do not pay my taxes because the Bible or St. Paul tells me to. I pay them so as not to play the statist oppression game of being a martyr and going to prison, thereby being unable to fight for liberty.

America is anation of liberty. Both Christians and Deists and freethinkers, founded this nation. I am glad that they all particpated in the Revolution.

Hopefully, we can continue the tradition of standing together against tyranny, you a fundementalist, me as a Deist in preserving liberty for all.

Kevin Craig said...

I appreciate your invitation to work together to oppose statism, and I accept. You're more gracious than some who call themselves libertarians. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am a Jewish Libertarian living in the SF Bay Area. In understanding Romans 13, as well as any other religious text, one needs to understand the historical context in which it was written.

At the time when the Epistle to the Romans was written (between 50-60 CE, most likely), the Roman occupation of Judea was making life very hard for Jews and early Christians (the majority of whom were Jews themselves). Revolt after revolt was being crushed by the Romans in Judea, ultimately ending in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the ethnic cleansing of Judea's native populace. At this time, the Christians were being heavily persecuted by both Roman and Jewish authorities.

I look at Romans 13 (as well as the Jewish equivalent of "Dina d'Malkhuta Dina") as a means of adjuring one's community to keep a low profile in order to survive turbulent political times. On the other hand, I see how it can easily have been twisted by the Vatican/various Protestant kings into a biblical basis behind the "Divine Right of Kingship".

To sum things up, it's not so much a particular text itself (such as the Bible or the 14th Amendment) that causes me to fear for my freedoms, but how these texts are used by charlatans as a pretext to deny us our lawful liberties while forcing their political agendas on an electorate too starry-eyed to realize they've been bamboozled.

Carl said...

The Bible places a much higher priority on following your conscience in accordance with faith in God and love for fellow men than it does on obedience to manmade laws.

In the United States we have an interesting scenario in that we actually have a Constitution that explicitly grants liberty and protections to individuals and which also limits the power of the government. Since its founding there have been a multitude of laws passed which contradict this foundational document. Most of what the federals government does today is illegal according to the Constitution.

So, should we obey the law of the land, or should we go along with the criminals? Pray for wisdom and listen to your conscience.

Kevin Craig said...

I've been thinking, trying to remember one single verse in the Bible that tells us to "follow your conscience," or anything that sounds like personal autonomy. I can think of lots of verses that command us to follow God's Law, and certainly we are to follow God's commandments rather than man-made laws which conflict with God's Laws.

But nothing that says "follow your conscience." The Latin behind "conscience" is "know with." The conscience reminds us of what we know God has commanded us, but the conscience is not an original source of knowledge.

While we can never grant the moral legitimacy of man-made laws which conflict with God's Laws, and we can never sin against God's Laws even if man commands us to do so, if man commands us to do something that God does not forbid us to do, Christ commands us to submit to such man-made laws. That's the mesage of the Sermon on the Mount ("go the second mile"), Romans 13 ("submit to [demonic] powers"), and 1 Peter 2:11-24 ("Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man"). More.

This means the American Revolution against taxes was unBiblical. God does not prohibit us from being taxed. He prohibits us from taxing others, but when we're taxed, the Bible says "pay your taxes," and not "get out your musket and kill the Red Coats."

DL said...

I am glad the American Revolution was "unBiblical," The Bible's pronouncement in Romans 13 is nothing more than St. Paul pandering to the Roman government. His advice, and frankly, the advice of some of the others who have commented,is nothing more than a exhortation to be a slave of the government. Hopefully, we can abandon such dangerous superstitous beliefs that place liberty and freedom as sins against God.

I hope that all will eventually reject the tyrannical slave mind encouraged by the Bible, and embrace a belief in one God, Providence, and Creator of the Universe. Let's abandon the man made religions and gods for the God of the creation.