In 1772, Samuel Adams stated: “The right to freedom being a gift from God Almighty…the rights of Christians may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of the great Law Giver which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”
Being under authority is not being under control. It is being under God’s protection. The help provided by God-ordained authorities can be illustrated by the protective wall or “breakwater” that shields boats in a harbor from devastation. Getting a boat into the harbor may be inconvenient, but the barrier tames the waves and keeps boats safe. Similarly parents, employers, and police may be an inconvenience at times, but they play an important role in our progress. God’s benevolent instruction is evident at several levels of responsibility and authority for government (Romans 13:1-3).
The first level of government is individual self-government. Lasting success comes by giving attention to God’s standards, the laws of creation’s nature that were the norm before man’s rebellion opened the door for Satan’s influence. Big government, the abundance of police, prisons, and hospitals are the consequences of sinful life practices. When man restrains his own selfish impulses and desires, the tyranny and exploitation of big government can be avoided.
The second level of government is the family. From the beginning, it has been the holy commitment of one man and one woman in marriage that has defeated the will of Satan in his war against civilization. God instituted marriage to facilitate companionship and the nurturing of children in the Truth. The husband cares for his wife in a loving way, and she respects him (Ephesians 5:22-33). Parents are responsible for the education of their children. By learning to honor and obey their parents, children also learn to honor the lordship of God and become responsible citizens (Ephesians 6:1,4; Proverbs 15:5). The Bible makes it clear that property ownership and wealth come through labor, while laziness produces poverty (Proverbs 10:4-5). Recognition of this aspect of the laws of creation’s nature benefits families (1 Timothy 5:8; Proverbs 31:13-27).
The third level of government is the voluntary union of people belonging to a church, churches of different denominations to evangelize and edify citizens through biblical principles for faith and community (1 Timothy 5:17) and discipline (Matthew 18:16-19). Churches also have the Bible mandate to be societal caregivers (1 John 3:17). Families and churches are united in the promotion of citizen self-reliance and limited civil governments.
The fourth level of government is civil government on local, regional and national levels. Its prime function is to protect the citizens from criminals inside and outside government and from external aggression (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14).
~ D. Norris