1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
Romans 13:1 (NLT)
In this article, I will look a topic, which many Christians are aware of but rarely take seriously. What does it suppose to mean? We shall study in detail.
The first part of the verse refers specifically on our submission to governing authorities. In short, it refers to governments. Please note that it does not say we should submit only to “Christian” governments. This verse was written when the writer was living in an empire ruled by non-Christians. This is relevant to the world we live in today because today there is no such thing as “Christian Governments” anymore. We can have Christians serving as presidents, prime ministers, ministers, lawmakers and civil servants but we do not have any “Christian Government”.
What can you expect from a government that is not Christian? They do not obey the rules of the Bible. God still expects us to submit to them.
In this article, I am going to analyze this issue into different subtopics with emphasis in Singapore system. In case some may wonder why would I choose Singapore, the answer is I live there. So, I know more about Singapore that other places.
Submission to the government does not mean we must always vote for the same group. As citizens, we are free to vote for whoever we want. However, we must respect the results. The group that won the election is the authority placed by God even if they are not the ones you voted for.
This is quite straightforward. Unless you are living in a country that does not collect tax, you have to pay tax. Being Christians do not exempt us from taxes. God expects us to pay tax and report our income truthfully despite the risk of having to pay more tax. We are not to resort to evade our tax obligations through illegal means.
However, this does not mean we cannot try to reduce our tax burdens through legal means. Governments usually offer tax reductions or breaks under specific conditions. We can choose to take advantage of them.
In short, pay your tax. If you want to pay lesser, do it legally.
This issue was used to be very hot in Singapore. A few months ago, we have a group of women from a church ganging up to take over a secular NGO on the charge that this NGO had been promoting homosexual lifestyles. The deeds of these women had caused an outrage throughout Singapore and disgrace to all the Christians here. Many Christians like myself had spoken up to condemn their evil act. I thank God that these women were defeated.
The above is an example on how Christians can go out of line to impose their church teachings and doctrines to the country. Please note that in Singapore, Christians only make up to about 15% of the population. We can all understand that 15% do not have the right to impose their doctrines to the rest of 85%.
As Christians, we are aware that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. At the same time, we should also realize that the Bible is not the law of the country. There is no secular system that says it is wrong to be a homosexual. In other words, Christians have no right to force others to accept our definition of right and wrong.
If there are churches out there that say God wants them to prevent this country from getting more tolerant to the homosexuals, I suggest these churches to remind their “God” that Christians only make up to 15% of the population and our legal system does not come from the Bible.
Being submissive to the government means acknowledging the fact that the government is not obligated to obey God.
Evangelism is an obligation for Christians according to the Second Layer Gospel. Many churches manipulate their members with guilt in order to get them to evangelize. I am familiar with their dirty tricks. I am glad God has set me free from them.
Having said that, there is nothing wrong with Christians doing evangelism but it must be done legally. Evangelism must not be done through immoral means. In Singapore, there is no law against evangelism. However, we also value our religious harmony. People of various religions and belief systems have been living peacefully for generations in this country. We even have Jews and Arabs here living peacefully.
So, the last thing we want is to have religious riots due to some idiotic Christians spreading their “good news” by insulting others’ religions. We have a case where a Christian couple was charged for posting tracts that insult Islam and said Catholics are not Christians. When they testified in court they even had the audacity to say they were doing their Christian duty. They even tried to use Christians’ tolerance to the movie “Da Vinci Code” as their license to insult others. As a Christian, I find their attitude to be sickening. I am glad the judge decided to punish them severely as a warning to other irresponsible Christians.
Submission to the government includes preserving religious harmony. The simplest guide is to do to others what you want others to do to you. Do you want others to insult your God? Do you want others to disqualify you from being a Christian? If you don’t, extend the same courtesy to others. God wants us to live in peace with our neighbors regardless of their religious affiliation.
It is never the will of God to start a religious riot.
Many Christians will agree that abortion is killing unborn children. It is therefore wrong. If you ask me, I can also say the same. However, the situation can be very different for women who are facing difficulties like being victims of rape. Abortions were also performed to save the mother’s life. So, I will not be quick to condemn those who had chosen this option.
In Singapore, the law allows abortions under strict conditions out of mercy to women like rape victims. Some Christians groups have voice their disagreement to this policy but they are wise in not starting a holy crusade against it. Otherwise, they will be punished severely.
So, is this policy right or wrong? In my opinion, this is the best a secular government can do. A blanket ban on abortion is never a solution. As a society consists of imperfect people, we have to contend with practicality even if it involve some abortions.
By the way, whatever our policy in abortion, it has nothing to do with earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, plagues, terrorism or any form of disasters. I mention this because many irresponsible Christians had used abortions as the reason for disasters. Each time a disaster happens, there will be some idiots declaring that it is God’s judgement on the nation due to the abortion policy. It takes real idiots to believe in them.
Stem cell research.
This is another rallying point for the crusaders. The problem here is, the research uses fertilized human egg cells and kill them afterwards. If you define a fertilized egg as a human being then stem cell research is basically murder. Is that so?
Let me show you the scientific truth in this matter. Stem cell research does uses fertilized human egg cells but the researchers do not make those cells. Those cells come from the process of “fertilization”, a medical process to create pregnancy to women who could not get pregnant naturally. The by-product is the creation of redundant fertilized egg cells that will be destroyed.
Stem cell researchers simply “borrowed” these cells for research. The end result or the destiny of these cells does not change. If you want to call them humans, then the truth is these humans were bound to die with or without stem cell research. They will either going to be killed by the nurse in the fertilization process or by the lab assistant in the stem cell laboratory.
In short, banning stem cell research will not result in lesser killings. Therefore, stem cell research can hardly qualifies as a sin. I am glad that the Singapore Government has the common sense to continue with it despite the protest of some scientifically-challenged Christians.
At the same time, stem cell research is also unrelated to earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, plagues, terrorism or any form of disasters.
The above is not exhaustive. Regardless of whether we are Christians, we still live in this world and share this world with billions others. The era of Christians Governments are over. We live in world where governments are not Christians and therefore not obligated to obey what the Bible says.
The simplest guide is do to others what you want others to do to you. This is the truth we must always remember.