A Question I Was Asked:

'Should Christians Actively Oppose President Obama?'

The Question:
'Regarding new President Obama.....many Christians over here are already drawing battlelines and many are saying that believers should "pray that Obama fails" in his administration, and that according to Rom.13:1-4, believers do not have to obey this government under his leadership. I just read these passages and I'm seeing they are saying that we DO have to obey human government. Can you unravel this for me? And please, say a prayer for America. Obama is truly no friend to the unborn or Christians. There is a great deal of unrest across this country and many fear anarchy in the near future.'

My Reply:

In his Commentary, Matthew Henry wrote this about these Scriptures:

"The grace of the gospel teaches us submission and quiet, where pride and the carnal mind only see causes for murmuring and discontent. Whatever the persons in authority over us themselves may be, yet the just power they have, must be submitted to and obeyed. In the general course of human affairs, rulers are not a terror to honest, quiet, and good subjects, but to evil-doers. Such is the power of sin and corruption, that many will be kept back from crimes only by the fear of punishment. Thou hast the benefit of the government, therefore do what thou canst to preserve it, and nothing to disturb it..."

Okay, that is the general principle and I suppose that no Christian would refuse to back that. The power, or government, which is currently ruling in any land is doing so by God's authority because - for the most part - God does not allow anarchy to gain the upper hand during the present evil age. Also, we must remember that when Paul wrote these words the Roman Empire ruled; hardly a friend to Christianity at the time, yet, even then, Paul could write these words.
One reason that Paul was especially careful to warn his fellow-believers to avoid dissent was possibly the fact that the early Christians were usually associated by the heathen with the Jews, and the Jews of that time and place were noted for turbulence. Paul the Apostle did not want to see the Christians getting into unnecessary trouble.

Okay, so civil power is granted by God. However, this does not mean (as we all know), that civil government is, in any sense, mostly godly. For the most part it certainly is not. Currently this world's societies do not proceed according to godly principles; it is an evil age, nevertheless, even in an evil age, God does not allow utter anarchy, and there will be some governmental rule. God wants His people to be obedient to human government wherever possible. However, there are extremes at various times when Paul's comments would not be entirely applicable - Paul knew that, he was talking generally. If we take Nazi Germany, a Christian would not want to be handing over Jews to the authorities because there is, of course, a higher law and that is the law of God. So Paul knew, as we do, that there would be times and circumstances when a Christian could not wholly support human government. In such circumstances he would expect them to be wise, discreet, circumspect and certainly not purposely going out and manufacturing riots, just quietly continuing to obey God. As an example, the early Christians knew they were, strictly-speaking, probably breaking Roman law in assembling for Christian worship; they did so sensibly and discreetly without attracting unwise undue attention to themselves. They had the attitude of wanting to obey Roman law where they could, but recognising that God rules above all human authority.

I fully understand how many American Christians view President Obama with great suspicion for certain things he has said and done. It seems to me that he is a liberal and no supporter of Christian values. However, should Christians therefore organise nation-wide unrest and protestations against him because of that fact? I don't think so. He is still a very mild proposition compared to the first century Roman emperors - just think of Nero! Truth is: God wants Christians to live quiet and peaceable lives.
Robin A. Brace, January, 2009.