DISCLAIMER: This series of articles reflects the results of my exegetical exercise to answer the following questions: (1) what did Paul intend to convey to his original audience by what he wrote in Romans 13:1-7? And (2) in light of Paul’s authorial intent, how ought Romans 13:1-7 apply to a 21st Century Christ-follower? In no way, shape or form is this series intended to influence in any way, or cause or be a catalyst for any person to disobey a governmental authority whether it be local, state or federal. This series is merely the exercise of my right to free speech and to practice my religion under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF TAKEAWAYS
This article discusses the application of Romans 13:1-7 to specific areas of governance by the United States government. More specially, this articles applies Romans 13:1-7, as well as supplemental passages, to laws that pertain to the beginning of human life, human sexuality and gender, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the free assembly of believers to worship God.
As mentioned in Article 10, the government is a complex entity, and this is especially the case for the United States government. The United States governs an expansive variety of activities. It is understandable that some of its governance in the forms of laws of other directives is for the “good” of the people including believers. In respect to the specific laws that are for “good” so as to satisfy the requirements of Romans 13:3-4a, Paul intended that believers be subject to and not resist those specific laws, etc. of the government.
It is also understandable that some of the United States’ governance in the forms of laws or directives is not for the “good” of the people including believers. In other words, certain laws do not satisfy the requirements of Romans 13:3-4a. In those circumstances, Paul did not intend for a believer to be subject to and not to not resist such specific laws, etc. of the government.
The takeaways from the application exercise are set out hereinafter.
First, the application of Romans 13:1-7 to the abortion issue results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that facilitates abortion.
Second, the application of Romans 13:1-7 to the LGBTQ movement results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that facilitates the lifestyle advocated by the LGBTQ movement.
Third, the application of Romans 13:1-7 to issues connected with evangelism activities results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that impedes evangelism.
Fourth, the application of Romans 13:1-7 to the lockdown issue results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that interferes with God’s mandate for Christ-followers to assemble to worship God.
APPLICATION OF ROMANS 13:1-7 TO EACH AREA OF INTEREST
Beginning of Human Life
In all likelihood, it appears that the Biden-Harris administration will fund abortion with taxpayer dollars.[i] Funding to promote abortion is tangible support of an activity that runs counter to biblical teaching. Quite simply, the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. Psalm 139:13–16 (NASB95)
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
Jeremiah 1:5 (NASB95) reads:
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
A plain and simple reading of these texts establishes that life begins at conception.[ii] Abortion is the intentional taking of a human life so that according to the Bible it is murder.[iii] Murder is a sin of the first degree and is forbidden.[iv] In the Old Testament, murder was punishable by execution.[v] Anyone who knowingly participates in murder is in all likelihood lost. Therefore, governmental laws, etc. that support or encourage abortion put a person who participates in abortion at ease with their sin which essentially impedes the spread of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
The application of Romans 13:1-7 to the abortion issue results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that facilitates abortion. A believer should speak out against abortion since it is taking the life of a baby in the womb which is the most innocent of all. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss other actions that would reduce or eliminate abortion in the United States..
The LGBTQ Movement
The Biden-Harris administration will make every effort to pass the so-called “Equality Act.” The Equality Act is a clear and present danger to believers who hold fast to biblical morality as expressed in the Bible.[vi]
To promote homosexual practice is encourage people to take the road to hell. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (NET) makes this clear:
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
For a more detailed discussion, please see my article entitled “1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Homosexual Practice is the Road to Hell – Part 17 of a 17 Part Series” (link: https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/13/1-corinthians-69-11-homosexual-practice-is-the-road-to-hell-part-17-of-a-17-part-series/ ). To pave the road to hell runs contrary to God’s will since He does not want any to perish.
The case for damnation based upon transgender behavior is not so clear. But, it is clear that transgender practice is sin. It runs contrary to God’s original design for human beings according to Genesis 1:27 (ESV), which reads:
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
The GotQuestions.org website article entitled “What does the Bible say about various forms of gender dysphoria?” (link: https://www.gotquestions.org/transsexualism-gender-identity-disorder.html ) reads [in part]:
The closest the Bible comes to mentioning transgenderism is in its condemnations of homosexuality (Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10) and transvestitism (Deuteronomy 22:5). The Greek word often translated “homosexual offenders” or “male prostitutes” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 literally means “effeminate men.” So, while the Bible does not directly mention transgenderism, when it mentions other instances of gender “confusion,” it clearly and explicitly identifies them as sin.
The Equality Act encourages the practice of sin that leads to damnation. Because such a law encourages people to consider a sinful lifestyle acceptable, they do not appreciate their sin which impedes the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The application of Romans 13:1-7 to the LGBTQ movement results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that facilitates the lifestyle advocated by the LGBTQ movement. A believer should speak out against the teachings of the LGBTQ movement because these teachings encourage people to practice a damning lifestyle. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss other actions that address the sinfulness of the lifestyles advocated by the LGBTQ movement.
The Substance of the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ
One fundamental biblical truth is that the only way to heaven is through faith/trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ Himself articulated this truth as recorded in John 14:6 (ESV)[vii]:
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven means that every loyal Muslim is on the road to hell. Every faithful Buddhist is on the road to hell. Every sincere Hindu is on the road to hell. Every devout atheist is headed to hell. To make these statements of biblical truth may offend some, but sometimes biblical truth offends.
In his book Choose the Life (Baker Books, (1994) Grand Rapids, Michigan), Bill Hull made observations that seem to apply to today:
One of Satan’s favorite false ideas is that religion is a private matter because nice and benign Christians are no threat to him. He wants us to worship the God of tolerance and political correctness. I predict that one day in the not-too-distant future witnessing to the exclusive nature of the gospel will be classified as a “hate crime.” The thought police will turn in people who speak words that exclude and make people feel left out and guilty. Churches will exhort members to let their lives speak but won’t ask then to say anything or take a stand. One of the most arrogant things a person can say is, “I will let my life speak for me.” As Sam Shoemaker used to say, “that is too much about us and too little about him.” This is another idea that must be taken captive and thrown in jail (2 Cor. 10:5).
In light of the anti-Christian bias of the Biden-Harris administration, there is a reasonable likelihood that the proclamation of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ will someday be “hate speech” per so-called “hate speech” laws. Obviously, such a “hate speech” law would impede the spread of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
The application of Romans 13:1-7 to issues associated with evangelism activities results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that impedes evangelism. A believer should proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ making certain that what he or she says contains correct substantive content, which includes the teaching of John 14:6.
The Call to Assemble and Worship God
Christians are supposed to assemble for worship per Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV), which reads:
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
National lockdown is a tactic in the arsenal of the Biden-Harris administration. The implementation of a national lockdown that would include churches impedes the spread of the gospel because many lost people would not hear the gospel message. See the basic reasoning in the statement by the elders of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California entitled “Christ, Not Caesar is the Head of the Church” (link: https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1988 ).
The application of Romans 13:1-7 to the lockdown issue results in a conclusion that a believer does not have to be subject to and does not have to not resist any laws, etc. by any governmental authority that interferes with God’s mandate for Christ-followers to assemble to worship God. A believer can and should make every effort to assemble for worship. Certainly, it is prudent to practice reasonable safety precautions.
THE NEXT AND FINAL ARTICLE
The next article is Article 12 and it contains some of my random and overall thoughts about the interface between the Biden-Harris administration and a believer.
[i] See a November 10, 2020 article in The Christian Post entitled “Biden Planning to Reverse Trump’s Pro-Life Policies by Executive Order” (link: https://www.christianpost.com/news/biden-to-reverse-trumps-pro-life-policies-by-executive-orders.html ) reads [in part]:
Former vice president Joe Biden has vowed to roll back a number of President Donald Trump’s executive orders and dismantle the administration’s pro-life policies should he take office next year.
While the official results of the 2020 presidential election remain uncertain, Biden has been declared the winner by several media outlets. His team has already unveiled a “Biden administration agenda,” which includes a section on “early executive actions.” The former vice president’s agenda would reverse some of the Trump administration’s pro-life initiatives.
According to the document, Biden would “reverse Trump actions on abortion and reproductive health care, including reversing the Mexico City Policy, restoring funding to Planned Parenthood and contraceptive coverage under the ACA.” The Mexico City Policy, first signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, requires foreign nongovernmental organizations to promise not to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” using U.S. taxpayer dollars.
[ii] The GotQuestion.org website presents a concise discussion in the article Question: Does the Bible teach that like begins at conception? (link: https://www.gotquestions.org/life-begin-conception.html ). This article also mentions science:
Science tells us that human life begins at the time of conception. From the moment fertilization takes place, the child’s genetic makeup is already complete. Its gender has already been determined, along with its height and hair, eye and skin color. The only thing the embryo needs to become a fully-functioning being is the time to grow and develop
[iii] An article from the website of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College entitled “Five Reasons Abortion is Murder: the Killing of an Innocent Human Being” by Dr. Doug Potter (link: https://ses.edu/five-reasons-abortion-is-murder-the-killing-of-an-innocent-human-being/ ) reads [in part]:
Does the Bible agree with the above truth about the unborn? Regardless if you hold the Bible to be the word of God or just a book reflecting ancient cultural views, you should agree that it presents a consistent view of the fetus from the point of conception as fully human. First, the Bible prohibits the taking of innocent human life in the sixth commandment “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). This divine law reflects and makes explicit the natural law reasoned above. In Exodus 20:22-23, the life of the unborn is protected by the same punishment for the injury and death of an adult. … Second, the biblical writers consistently attribute the same characteristics of the person outside the womb to the unborn in the womb. In one of the earliest books of the Bible, we read in Job 3:3 two lines of poetry:
“Let the day perish on which I was to be born,
And the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’” (NASB)
In this poetic parallelism, the second line emphasizes the first by restating it with different words. The child “born” and “boy” are the same person and speaks of this at “conception.”
In Jeremiah 1:5 (cf. Isaiah 49:1) we see that God knows the unborn in the same way he knows a person outside the womb. … Psalm 139: 13-16 (cf. Psalm 51:5) refers to the earliest stages of pregnancy when God “formed my inward parts,” “wove me in my mother’s womb,” “I was made in secret,” … Finally, following the Old, the New Testament uses the same term “baby” for that which is in and outside the womb (Luke 1:41, 44; 2:12, 16) showing the continuity in person “from the womb to tomb” as my late professor would put it. Jesus Christ was fully human at the moment of His conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:20-21) and the apostle Paul was known and called by God while in the womb (Galatians 1:15). Taken together all of these passages entails the complete substance of a human being existing while in the womb and being the object of God’s love from the moment of conception.
The biblical reader should at least acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth held to the truth (John 17:17) of the Old Testament teachings (Matthew 4:4; 5:18; Luke 11:50-51) in all that it affirms and promised this same divine source of truth to his immediate disciples (John 16:13). Hence, it follows that Jesus of Nazareth held that a living human being exists at the point of conception. And this position of Jesus is surely reflected in his teaching not to murder (Matthew 5:21-22) and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40) which should apply even if she or he is in a womb.
[iv] Jesus affirmed the Sixth Commandment per Matthew 19:18 (ESV):
18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,
The same was true for Paul in Romans 13:9 (ESV)
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:15 (ESV)
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
[v] Deuteronomy 19:11–13 (ESV) reads:
11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.
[vi] An July 1, 2019 article at the Decision Magazine website entitled “The Equality A ct: A Clear and Present Danger” (link: https://decisionmagazine.com/equality-act-clear-present-danger/ ) presents an overview:
Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the First Liberty law firm, which helped argue in favor of religious freedom and free speech in the Obergefell case, agrees.
“The Equality Act attempts to make sure that in all cases LGBT rights trump religious freedom—in every situation. It makes religious freedom a secondary freedom or right.”
Shackelford says the bill would have broad implications for people of faith; churches; faith-based institutions, including foster and adoption care entities, parents, students, medical workers and public employees; as well as private sector businesses and employees.
The Equality Act explicitly states that the provisions in the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—which aimed to ensure that “interests in religious freedom are protected”—cannot be used as a defense in cases in which sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination is in question.
Additionally, it would override religious freedom restoration laws in the states, as well as application of the federal RFRA as it pertains to conscience protections for federal employees.
“They want to make sure there’s no religious freedom defense,” Shackelford says. “People can’t have a different belief and expect to live in peace. They can’t even make the argument for their beliefs, which is why this is so extreme. Even if you’re a nonprofit religious group, you can get sued for discrimination if you’re not following the new orthodoxy on LGBT rights, gender transition and gender identity, and everything else. And you have to open your showers, your bathrooms, etc., to the opposite sex.
[vii] As one commentator (Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 491). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans) writes [boldfacing added]:
In this context Jesus does not simply blaze a trail, commanding others to take the way that he himself takes; rather, he is the way. … He is himself the Saviour (4:42), the Lamb of God (1:29, 34), the one who so speaks that those who are in the graves hear his voice and come forth (5:28–29). He so mediates God’s truth and God’s life that he is the very way to God (cf. de la Potterie, p. 938), the one who alone can say, No-one comes to the Father except through me.