Is it permissible to criticize or disobey government? Or to be disrespectful to government leaders?
Suggested Daily Reading: Romans 13: 1-7
God is the ultimate authority. He is the creator of all things, also of you and me. We must all obey and give answer to the Sovereign King of the universe (II Chron. 20:6; Ps. 103:19). God has revealed His will and commandments in His Word, the Bible (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19). God and His Word must always be obeyed, without exception. God and His Word are perfect, true, inerrant and infallible (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21). The Bible is absolute authority.
To enable human life to function in a fallen, sinful world, God has delegated authority to persons in positions to govern others. The Lord has delegated authority to:
- Parents to rule in their home
- Elders to govern in the church
- Officials to preside in civil governments
- Managers to direct in their businesses and institutions
We are to respect those God has placed in authority over us (Rom. 13:1-2; I Pet. 2:17). Even when we do not agree with them (I Pet. 2:18-20). Even when they do not live uprightly (Mt. 23:1-3). Still we must respect them for their God-given position of authority. Even when we communicate our disagreement, it must be done in a respectful manner (Acts 23:5). We may communicate disagreement, but only with respectful words and actions.
We are called to obey those God has placed in authority over us (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-6). Those in positions of delegated authority, however, may not simply use their authority to lead people and regulate matters according to their own ideas, feelings or preferences. No, they are responsible to God. They are to direct all according to God’s will not their own (II Sam. 23:3; Mi. 3:1-4). How are they and we to know what God’s infallible will is? From His infallible Word, the Bible.
If therefore, a person in delegated authority commands us to do or not do something that contradicts the ultimate authority, then we must obey God and not man (Acts 5:29). When the two conflict, we must obey the Word of God, as taught in the Bible, and not the word of man, as commanded in civil laws and rulings.
May we disagree with a person placed in authority over us? If so, how must we communicate this disagreement? May we disobey our local, state or provincial, or national governments? When and only when? Why? How must we act toward persons in authority who we disagree with on biblical grounds? How must we speak about and act toward them?