Once again the debate of divine authority which has been argued throughout the centuries is being debated by Trump Christians who use the text of Romans 13 to force their agenda upon all Christians. First most of the Christians who are trying to pedal this agenda do not have any understandings of hermeneutics and allow a literal reading of the text to suffice which actually greatly distorts the meaning.
God did not put Trump or any other president in power. Voters did. It is my opinion that God when he gave us freedom to do as we wish that freedom extended to all parts of our lives and God rarely intervenes. Let us look at how God spoke to Cain about his frustrations with his brother Able.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, NIV).
As we know God did not stop Cain from killing his brother. It was not God’s will that Cain kill his brother as the verses above attest to that. It was Cain’s will and his actions. God may warn us, and we have the law of love written on our hearts, but in the end the actions we take are our own.
Let us look at the lifestyle of Daniel. Daniel defied the authority that was above him throughout his life in captivity. We find examples of Daniel refusing to eat what he was ordered (Daniel 1) We find Daniel refusing to bow to the image in which he was ordered by the king to do. (Daniel 3). Daniel refuses to cease his prayers in defiance of the king (Daniel 6).
What may seem odd is the fact that Daniel also wrote, “He changes times and seasons; he disposes kings and raises them up.” (Daniel 2:21, NIV). Yet here we do not have a dilemma, we have the very reason why the Jews loved the book of Daniel. The text was a motivational story in which the Jews clung to in their time of distress. It is understandable to want to have some sort of rational explanation as to why God seemingly abandoned them. Yet the truth is God never abandoned, they were taken captive as many nations were and for a time they were forced into exile. You may disagree with me on this although many scholars have come to the same conclusion.
One more example before I focus directly upon Romans 13. According to Samuel God did not desire the people of Israel to even have a king. Samuel the prophet may have been saying this because he thought his place of authority was in jeopardy and like many invoke the name of God to strike fear into the hearts of men, or he may have heard actually from God. I don’t know. I know Samuel was wise in stating that if the people receive a human king he would take their sons and daughters demand taxes and also take their lands (1 Samuel 8:10-22).
Who then brought about the King? Not God, but the people demanded it and they received it. Look back at Cain and Abel. The freewill of man is mostly littered with sin.
Romans 13 seems to be a very clear-cut text of the Apostle explaining to the often dysfunctional church how to keep their heads attached to their bodies. Written during a time in which claiming to be a member of the new cult of Jesus would bring one severe punishment if not death. Paul in writing to the Roman to warn them of earthly punishment as well as to help them to realize that even though they are children of God, and citizens of heaven it is still important to live a life of peace. Paul invokes the name of God although like many preachers and prophets. Invoking the name of God is always beneficial to validate an argument in which you desire no other sentiments. Paul was a wise man as was Daniel and Samuel, and himself defied the government of his day because of his convictions.
What we cannot do is use the text as a blanket statement in which can be translated to our lives today. I think we may be able to pull out many great points within Romans 13. Obeying the law is a good thing. Paying taxes and being fearful of doing evil because generally in most cultures the same laws against theft, murder, etc. exist. While it is clear that Christians should respect authority, we must also as Jesus pointed out be wise as serpents. To blindly follow a government that is wrong and ungodly is in itself foolish. Paul was not telling the Roman church to follow the orders of Rome, or to worship their Gods because they commanded it. If that was the case they would have converted back to the Pagan gods. He for all practical purposes wanted the Roman church to live in peace with the authority as much as they could.
In the United States today we have a drastically different type of Government than that of 1st century Rome. We choose our leaders such as the President through an election. God does not choose the leaders the people do. God is not going to interfere with the free will of the people. In the United States a country in which the very foundations were based on rebellion, how dare Jeff Sessions try to quote Romans 13 to obtain the obedience of the people! It is our very duty as Americans to protest and seek justice in which we feel is right in our eyes. We will not always get it right, but if we do nothing then nothing will get done.
Just as God did not raise up Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, or the Queen of England, God did not raise up Trump. What God did do was give us the free will to choose our leaders; that is if we are lucky enough to be born in a country in which that is possible. I am tired of Trump Christians praising him more than they do Jesus and thinking that this is all apart of some prophecy leading towards the end of the world. No, what it is should be a call for Evangelicals to start to learn to properly interpret the Bible.