Archive for August, 2007

Romans Chapter 13

It seems that every time someone such as myself attempts to encourage our Christian brothers and sisters to resist an unconstitutional or otherwise reprehensible government policy, we hear the retort, “What about Romans Chapter 13? We Christians must submit to government. Any government. Read your Bible, and leave me alone.” Or words to that effect.

No doubt, some who use this argument are sincere. They are only repeating what they have heard their pastor and other religious leaders say. On the other hand, let’s be honest enough to admit that some who use this argument are just plain lazy, apathetic, and indifferent. And Romans 13 is their escape from responsibility. I suspect this is the much larger group, by the way.

Nevertheless, for the benefit of those who are sincere (but obviously misinformed), let’s briefly examine Romans Chapter 13. I quote Romans Chapter 13, verses 1 through 7, from the Authorized King James text:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

Do our Christian friends who use these verses to teach that we should not oppose President Bush or any other political leader really believe that civil magistrates have unlimited authority to do anything they want without opposition? I doubt whether they truly believe that.

For example, what if our President decided to resurrect the old monarchal custom of Jus Primae Noctis (Law of First Night)? That was the old medieval custom when the king claimed the right to sleep with a subject’s bride on the first night of their marriage. Would our sincere Christian brethren sheepishly say, “Romans Chapter 13 says we must submit to the government”? I think not. And would any of us respect any man who would submit to such a law?

So, there are limits to authority. A father has authority in his home, but does this give him power to abuse his wife and children? Of course not. An employer has authority on the job, but does this give him power to control the private lives of his employees? No. A pastor has overseer authority in the church, but does this give him power to tell employers in his church how to run their businesses? Of course not. All human authority is limited in nature. No man has unlimited authority over the lives of other men. (Lordship and Sovereignty is the exclusive domain of Jesus Christ.)

By the same token, a civil magistrate has authority in civil matters, but his authority is limited and defined. Observe that Romans Chapter 13 clearly limits the authority of civil government by strictly defining its purpose: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil . . . For he is the minister of God to thee for good . . . for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Notice that civil government must not be a “terror to good works.” It has no power or authority to terrorize good works or good people. God never gave it that authority. And any government that oversteps that divine boundary has no divine authority or protection.

Civil government is a “minister of God to thee for good.” It is a not a minister of God for evil. Civil magistrates have a divine duty to “execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” They have no authority to execute wrath upon him that doeth good. None. Zilch. Zero. And anyone who says they do is lying. So, even in the midst of telling Christians to submit to civil authority, Romans Chapter 13 limits the power and reach of civil authority.

Did Moses violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he killed the Egyptian taskmaster in defense of his fellow Hebrew? Did Elijah violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he openly challenged Ahab and Jezebel? Did David violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he refused to surrender to Saul’s troops? Did Daniel violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he disobeyed the king’s law to not pray audibly to God? Did the three Hebrew children violate God’s principle of submission to authority when they refused to bow to the image of the state? Did John the Baptist violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he publicly scolded King Herod for his infidelity? Did Simon Peter and the other Apostles violate God’s principle of submission to authority when they refused to stop preaching on the streets of Jerusalem? Did Paul violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he refused to obey those authorities who demanded that he abandon his missionary work? In fact, Paul spent almost as much time in jail as he did out of jail.

Remember that every apostle of Christ (except John) was killed by hostile civil authorities opposed to their endeavors. Christians throughout church history were imprisoned, tortured, or killed by civil authorities of all stripes for refusing to submit to their various laws and prohibitions. Did all of these Christian martyrs violate God’s principle of submission to authority?

So, even the great prophets, apostles, and writers of the Bible (including the writer of Romans Chapter 13) understood that human authority–even civil authority–is limited.

Plus, Paul makes it clear that our submission to civil authority must be predicated on more than fear of governmental retaliation. Notice, he said, “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” Meaning, our obedience to civil authority is more than just “because they said so.” It is also a matter of conscience. This means we must think and reason for ourselves regarding the justness and rightness of our government’s laws. Obedience is not automatic or robotic. It is a result of both rational deliberation and moral approbation.

Therefore, there are times when civil authority may need to be resisted. Either governmental abuse of power or the violation of conscience (or both) could precipitate civil disobedience. Of course, how and when we decide to resist civil authority is an entirely separate issue. And I will reserve that discussion for another time.

Beyond that, we in the United States of America do not live under a monarchy. We have no king. There is no single governing official in this country. America’s “supreme Law” does not rest with any man or any group of men. America’s “supreme Law” does not rest with the President, the Congress, or even the Supreme Court. In America, the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme Law of the Land.” Under our laws, every governing official publicly promises to submit to the Constitution of the United States. Do readers understand the significance of this distinction? I hope so.

This means that in America the “higher powers” are not the men who occupy elected office, they are the tenets and principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Under our laws and form of government, it is the duty of every citizen, including our elected officials, to obey the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, this is how Romans Chapter 13 reads to Americans:

“Let every soul be subject unto the [U.S. Constitution.] For there is no [Constitution] but of God: the [Constitution] that be [is] ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the [Constitution], resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For [the Constitution is] not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the [Constitution]? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For [the Constitution] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for [the Constitution] beareth not the sword in vain: for [the Constitution] is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for [the Constitution is] God’s minister, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

Dear Christian friend, the above is exactly the proper understanding of our responsibility to civil authority in these United States, as per the teaching of Romans Chapter 13.

Furthermore, Christians, above all people, should desire that their elected representatives submit to the Constitution, because it is constitutional government that has done more to protect Christian liberty than any governing document ever devised by man. As I have noted before in this column (See: http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2005/cbarchive_20050630.html ), Biblical principles form the foundation of all three of America’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, and The Bill of Rights.

As a result, Christians in America (for the most part) have not had to face the painful decision to “obey God rather than men” and defy their civil authorities.

The problem in America today is that we have allowed our political leaders to violate their oaths of office and to ignore, and blatantly disobey, the “supreme Law of the Land,” the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, if we truly believe Romans Chapter 13, we will insist and demand that our civil magistrates submit to the U.S. Constitution.

Now, how many of us Christians are going to truly obey Romans Chapter 13?

© Chuck Baldwin

This column is archived as http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2007/cbarchive_20070810.html

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About Judges

At the establishment of our Constitution the Judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of our Government.  Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous.  That the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a free hold and irresponsability in office that their decisions seeming to concern individual suitors own passed silently and un-heeded by the public at large.  That these decisions , never the less, become law by pressident sapping little by little the foundations of the constitution and working its change by construction before anyone has percieved that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed consuming its substance.  In truth a man is not made to be trusted for life if secured against all liability to account.

– Thomas Jefferson

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ON SHEEP, WOLVES, AND SHEEPDOGS

By LTC(RET) Dave Grossman, RANGER, Ph.D.,author of “On Killing.”

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so
because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy
things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that
may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,
even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth
dying for? What is worth living for? – William J. Bennett – in a lecture to the
United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
“Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive
creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the
murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate
is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans
are not inclined to hurt one another.

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent
crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record
rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which
means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one
in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are
committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably
less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation:
We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still
remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people
who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme
provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the
pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow
into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue
shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and
someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful.? For
now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves
feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there
who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil
men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget
that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in
denial.

“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to
protect the flock and confront the wolf.”

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive
citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy
for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But
what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow
citizens?
What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking
the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the
universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed

Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep,
wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes
them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the
world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire
extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’
schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police
officer in their kid’s school. Our children are thousands of times more likely
to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the
sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone
coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the
path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the
wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is
that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep
dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished
and removed.
The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative
democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that
there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them
where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our
airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much
rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to
hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough
high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not
have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had
nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT
teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel
those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs
feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded
hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt
differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how
many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a
sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a
funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the
breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a
righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous
battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move
to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep
pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After
the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America
said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said,
“Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I
could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a
warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there.
You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but
he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able
to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the
population.
There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals
convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious,
predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast
majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped
walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like
big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able
to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be
genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most
people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans
are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was
honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the
man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an
operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other
three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone
and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to
the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a
transformation occurred among the passengers – athletes, business
people and parents. — from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves,
ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible
evil of evil men. – Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of
police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real
sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves.
They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be
whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay,
but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your
loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If
you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt
you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want
to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious
and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive
in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church.? They are
well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt
holsters tucked into the small of their backs.? Anytime you go to some form of
religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer
in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your
place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the
break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other
cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in church.” I
asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at
a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally
deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen
people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day
if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do
was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the
eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself
after that?”

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer
was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and
would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for
“heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective,
or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’
school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can
happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often
their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog
quietly asks himself, “Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with
yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there
helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?”

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically
destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is
counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and
horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth
when you are not physically prepared: you didn’t bring your gun, you didn’t
train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy.
Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you
are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at
your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11
book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to
terms with our current world situation: “…denial can be seductive, but it has an
insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it
isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more
unsettling.”

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in
small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some
level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of
his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you
step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that
the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7, for a lifetime.
Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you
walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to
yourself…
“Baa.”

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no
dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees,
a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on
the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the
other.
Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America
took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps
toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started
taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that
continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved
ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

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