Adhering to Government Authority as a Christian

Adhering to Government Authority as a Christian

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Adhering to Government Authority as a Christian

The contentious issue in this scenario is whether Todd who is a Christian should or should not submit to the state authorities on the requirement that a witness to a theft who fails to report the matter has committed a criminal misdemeanor. Todd, a Christian, has to choose between sticking to the law as required of all Christians or act in defiant, as it sometimes happens with some believers. However, the right way to act in this instance, as required of Christian teachings, is to be submissive. The essay generates an argument on why the most appropriate way for Todd to handle the matter is to inform the authorities while making reference to various sources with Bob Deffinbaugh’s article being a fundamental source. However, whereas the writing is inclined to why Todd should submit to governing authorities, it provides insight into scenarios that could lead a Christian to act contrary. Looking at the issue from both perspectives provide a clearer view Deffinbaugh’s argument and helps to understand the whole issue on Christians’ submission to government authority. Nonetheless, the overarching argument in this instance is that as a Christian, Todd should act in accordance with what biblical teachings say about adhering to authorities to avoid being among those who claim they are Christians but their deeds contradict their assertions.

Reasons why Todd should follow the Legislation

Romans 13:1-7, as presented by Paul, is clear on the responsibilities of Christians in adhering to government authorities. The verse urges everyone, both believers and non-believers, to be bound by governing authorities, for there is not power other than that which God has formed.[1] Hence, the existing authorities have been formulated by the Almighty. The Bible verse further directs that whoever goes against the government, acts contrary to an institution that God has formed, and those who go ahead to defy existing structures will be judged accordingly.[2] Romans 13:3 addresses those on power asking them not to harm those who follow regulations, but to take appropriate action against those who choose to act in defiance.[3] Verse 3 further informs that if one wants to be free from constant fears of those in power, then the best way to act is to do the right thing, which is following government directives. Verse reminds Christians that those in leadership position serve in the place of God, and have the mandate to punish those who act contrary to stipulated guidelines and provisions. Verse four reads “But if you act in defiance, be wary, for leaders do not have the power for no particular reason.”[4] The verse further continues that leaders are God’s agents, and act as servants of wrath to cast punishment on the offender. Thus, it is essential to follow the requirements and directives of authorities, not only because of the possible punishment that one could receive but also as a way of showing awareness. In verse 6, the Bible reaffirms that the need to be submissive is the reason why people pay taxes to equip leaders with the ability to offer effective administration. Verse 7 emphasizes the need to give everyone what is duly theirs. It states that “if you owe taxes pay taxes, if you owe respect pay respect and if you owe revenue pay revenue.”[5] Hence, based on the description of the Bible verse, it is evident that every individual is needed to be in subjection to the regulating authorities.

Subjection according to the article by Deffinbaugh entails obedience, but it suggests even more. Subjection pays attention to an individual’s attitude or spirit, which results in obedience. It acknowledges a power over people to which they are required to give their respect and obedience. It insinuates a spirit which aims at understanding the purpose and views of the one who is powerful and seek to elevate that one’s place, goal, and position. The authorities in this sense are the governing bodies, those institutions and agencies that govern people using political means and ideologies.[6] However, submission to other forms, such as wives to their husbands or workers to their employers, or masters to their slaves, is addressed in other sections.

Moreover, Todd is obliged to submit to the government directive because the teaching of Paul is clear that those who refuse to hear what the authority says has contradicted God’s ordinance. By doing what is good and following what is required, individuals would be able to overcome the fear of authority.[7] Deffinbaugh informs that doing good and acting in accordance with stipulated guidelines will possibly earn one praises from those in power.[8] However, the article which is based on Paul’s teachings direct that people should be afraid if they do what is evil or unacceptable by government authorities.

Paul emphasizes the divine authority of human government in verse 1, but appears to change tune in verse 2 where he stresses the divine repercussions. Because of these repercussions, Paul informs, resistance to governmental directives is also resistance against the Lord God Himself.[9] Such opposition in the long run causes divine judgment. Further in verses 3 and 4, Paul gives more explanation on the possible implications of disregarding the existing authority. In verse 4, Paul assigns government a new title by referring to it as “minister of God.”[10] Its role according to Paul is to serve God by responding positively to those who do as expected and to reprimand those who act contrary. Todd should also remember God’s intention for human government is to bless and reward those who act in accordance with set regulations and to castigate those who act in defiance. In addition, Todd would be compelled to act in accordance with the provisions of law if he takes into account that the purpose of the government in punishing those who act contrary, and in praising those who comply, is in accordance with and complimentary to the objectives of Christians.[11] The perception is apparent in verse 9 where Paul writes that “let love prevail without any form of hypocrisy by casting evil deeds and clinging to what is desirable.”[12] Thus, a Christian should stay away from evil deeds and pursue what is required of them. Therefore, the purpose of God to his people as well as the government authorities are in harmony. Todd should also remember that the government is in place to help people do what God has instructed people to do and what they should aspire to do.

Reasons Why Todd may not comply as a Christian

Nonetheless, various factors could make Todd to act in defiance of the authority not because he wishes to act contrary to Christian teachings, but because of the belief that only God reserves the ultimate command. According to Deffinbaugh, various factors could make civil government and Christians to differ with one another. Typically, Christians might incorrectly turn these into excuses for disobedience and disrespect to authorities.[13] A possible factor that may tempt Todd to act contrary to government authorities is the perception many Christians have that civil government is of a civil nature while Christianity is spiritual. The Bible in 1 Peter 1:1 informs that Christians are strangers and aliens and that they are just passing through the world. In Philippians 3:20, the Bible informs that the citizenship of Christians is in heaven. The other reason that could lead Todd to defy the instruction set by the government despite being a Christian is because of the belief that the state refer to Christianity as being hostile and competitive to its existence and authority. Christians believe that the being with the highest authority is God.[14] In the case of Rome, Caesar was a “god” in himself and due to this, Romans regarded Christians as atheists. Christianity was ultimately matched with treason.

Other religion-related factors could lead Todd to counter the authority’s directive. The third compelling that factor that Deffinbaugh identifies as having the capacity to hold back a Christian from abiding by government authorities is that at time, believers were directed to obey God and not mankind. Acts 5:29 informs about a response by Peter and other disciples which reaffirmed the need to show allegiance only to God and other human beings.[15] The other factor that causes contention, and which could refrain Todd from sticking to the terms and conditions of the legislation is the belief that state officers, either knowingly or unknowingly, tend to use their power to actively counter the church and persecute Christian believers. Thus, whereas Todd has an obligation to conduct himself like a Christian who ought to be submissive to government authorities, it is also likely that he would act contrary not in defiance of his faith in God, but because of some biblical perceptions that seem to generate conflicting thoughts.


The best way for Todd to act in this case would be to be submissive to the government authorities because this is what the Bible expects of Christians. Paul gives clear directives in Romans 13:1-7 that give directions on how Christians should relate with state directives. Paul believes that human government acts in place of God and that everyone is obliged to abide by the regulations set in pace. Todd while acting as a Christian should remember that God mandates government authorities to punish those who act in defiance. Nonetheless, the essay identifies scenarios that could compel not to adhere to the existing regulation. Ideas such as that the government is secular in nature, God has the ultimate power and authority, governments tend to view religion as a threat, and the constant opposition from government official could urge Todd to act in defiance with the introduced legislation. However, this should not be the case taking into account what Paul says about abiding by government authorities. Hence, the most suitable way for Todd to react to the whole issue in this scenario is to report the homeless man lest he acts contrary to the teachings of his faith and becomes liable for criminal misdemeanor. The analysis of the cases passes valuable insight to other Christians who find themselves in a similar situation. They learn the need to follow government regulations knowing that they exist to for their own well-being.


Deffinbaugh, B. (2004). The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

Lategan, B. (2012). Romans 13:1-37: A review of post-1989 readings. Scriptura, 110(2), 259-272.

The Bible.

[1] Deffinbaugh, B. (2004). The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[2] Deffinbaugh, B. (2004). The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[3] Lategan, B. (2012). Romans 13:1-37: A review of post-1989 readings. Scriptura, 110(2), 262.

[4] The Bible.

[5] Ibid

[6] Deffinbaugh, B. (2004). The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[7] Lategan, B. (2012). Romans 13:1-37: A review of post-1989 readings. Scriptura, 110(2), 264.

[8] Deffinbaugh, B. The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Deffinbaugh, B. (2004). The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[12] The Bible.

[13] Deffinbaugh, The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[14] Deffinbaugh, B. (2004). The Christian and civil government (Romans 13:1-7).

[15] Ibid

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