There is a big question weighing on the minds of many Christians in recent weeks as they watch elected officials and bureaucratic agencies enact restrictions that limit or roll back cherished freedoms.
Is it okay for Christians to practice civil disobedience?
It’s an important topic for me because I am not entirely trustful of the government’s COVID-19 narrative regarding the need for a nationwide shut down of our economy based on “what if” fear factors.
“Because our hospitals might be overrun with seriously ill patients some day, we must confine all Americans everywhere to their homes, shut down their businesses and prevent them from gathering in groups large and small,” is the rationale behind the new rules.
Because the laws are implemented everywhere from big cities to unpopulated counties, it seems like a vast overreaction to a potential problem akin to dousing a candle with a gallon of water. New data being released seems to support my initial reaction.
Infection rates remain well below even 1 percent of the population. As of April 26, only 0.295% of all Americans were sick enough from this illness to even seek treatment, and just 0.000168% had died as a result.
Even that is uncertain with news reports suggesting communities are manipulating figures to count every death as a COVID-19 death, even if the illness only played a supporting role.
For example, a long-time smoker battling cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who was in in hospice anyway, but contracted COVID-19 during the final week or his or her life, was counted as having died from the infection.
As a result, governments are imposing economy-killing restrictions based on inflated numbers.
After being locked up for weeks, new studies are emerging that being outside in the sunlight has tremendous therapeutic effect of helping people ward off illnesses.
A conflict for Christians
This is where my conflict arises. I want to give the government the benefit of the doubt. The Bible tells us in Romans 13:1: “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.”
If God established the authorities, then we have an obligation to obey them.
However, because the numbers just don’t warrant the level of panicked response and I strongly believe election-year shenanigans are at play, I am more sympathetic toward civil disobedience.
It is a real battle because it speaks to an issue that is dear to my heart — the self-evident truths outlined in our Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
So, that begs an answer to this question: Did our nation’s founders sin against God when they rebelled against an unjust nation? More importantly, how does a Christian in 2020 resolve the conflict waging in his mind and in his heart?
When the Declaration of Independence speaks of “unalienable rights,” what does that mean?
Unalienable means they can’t be taken away because the rights were endowed by God and bestowed upon all men — not just wealthy and powerful people.
America is a special country because it was specifically founded as a nation under God. You don’t have to read much about the Revolutionary War to see how God’s hand was on a ragtag bunch of rebels as they fought and defeated the largest army in the world to establish a new nation dedicated to God.
Peter Marshall’s books convey all the miraculous details. Check out The Light and the Glory, Sounding Forth the Trumpet, and From Sea to Shining Sea. (If you order them from Amazon, I might earn a small commission.)
So, if liberty and pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights bestowed by God, then can a government established by man take away those rights?
That’s a question Christians need to be asking and praying about.
From the consent of the governed
The Bible declares that there is no government established outside God’s will, and the Declaration of Independence takes it one step further to say that there is no government created without the consent of the governed.
Further the declaration claims that government exists only to secure those inalienable rights, not take them away.
Are the restrictions being imposed being done with consent of the governed? That’s open to debate.
Yes, we voted our consent when electing our leaders. However, before assuming office, every elected leader voluntarily raises his or her hand promising to uphold the laws of the land — of which the foremost of all laws is the Constitution.
So, when we are threatened with fines and jail for driving to a church to listen to a sermon within the confines of our cars, are the restrictions being imposed at the consent of the governed or by the edict of the king?
Being different from every other country in the world, the rules aren’t the same in America. Our leaders serve us; we don’t serve them.
Institute new government
There is one clause in the Declaration of Independence that stands above all the others. That’s the right to abolish a government that strays away from its foundational laws in order to establish a new government to uphold those laws.
Already we saw a government try to take away the fundamental right to vote by trying to cancel an election in Wisconsin.
There is talk of suspending the general election this fall or changing the rules so drastically that integrity of the balloting process would be compromised.
However, it is interesting to note that the Declaration of Independence supports the need to institute a new government when the current one threatens our safety and happiness.
That’s where the even bigger debate will take place. As I noted in an editorial last week, what’s the point of having life, if you can’t enjoy living?
Are Americans willing to surrender cherished rights?
However, a wide swath of Americans appear to be perfectly content to surrender their bestowed liberty for a false sense of safety and security.
It is true that COVID-19 has killed a number of people. However, a much greater number of people died to give us our freedoms during the Revolutionary War, and uphold those freedoms in the Civil War and great conflicts of World War I and World War II.
Because people are dying from a media-hyped illness is why so many fearful people are willing to give up their rights for a feeling of safety. The Declaration of Independence noted that’s one reason why governments are established in the first place — to keep us safe.
Yet, a wide and growing number of Americans are not willing to surrender their rights for a false feeling of safety. They are willing to take the risks in order to enjoy a life worth living. They want to support their families, save for the future, support various causes and enjoy the fruit of their labor.
A newspaper quoted a “non-essential” business owner this week who said, “I’m not afraid of losing my life, I’m afraid of losing the life I built.”
Like the Declaration of Independence promises, people want to pursue safety AND happiness. None of that is possible when we allow government to take away our sacred rights.
Government officials warn us all the time that we better obey them, or else. And we mostly do obey.
But, I fear a time is coming when we will be compelled to force government to obey and uphold their sacred oaths of office to protect our freedoms and protect our foundational laws.
I hope it never comes to that. I really hope and pray it never does.
However, our founding fathers were exceptionally wise men of faith. They knew what could be possible if human nature was allowed to run its course, like it has in so many other countries of the world. That’s why our founders gave us a Second Amendment to protect the First, as well as the entire constitution and all its amendments.
This is an important consideration. Because of the role America has played throughout our short 244-year history in securing and protecting freedom for us and millions of others, the world cannot afford to lose America.
If America is lost, the world is lost.
Sadly, that may be the motivation behind all that is happening with COVID-19 in the first place.