The Christian's Relationship To Civil Government
That the Christian has a relationship to civil government no one can deny, but just what that relationship is, is sometimes misunderstood. The hope of this writer in this article is to answer some questions posed by Bro. Ralph Edmunson in the March 5, 1970 issue of the Gospel Guardian. If the principles set forth in this paper are not scriptural, I would welcome being corrected, but with scripture, not sentiment or prejudice.
May I state first, that I understand that the present conflict is not a popular one. But, I do not believe this changes in the slightest the principles involved in this controversy.
Christian's Obligation To Obey Civil Government
Notice Romans 13:1-7. The Christian is commanded to "be subject" — if he resisteth the "higher power" (civil government) he is resisting the ordinance of God — "for he beareth not the sword in vain." — for he (law officer) is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." But someone may say this does not give the Christian the right to carry a sword.
Christian's Obligation to Carry a Sword Luke 22:35, 36 "And he said unto them, when I sent you without purse, and script, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
"Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his script: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." Now why would the Lord command his disciples under the great commission to carry a sword, if not to defend themselves, yea and even to "kill" if necessary. The Lord knew one could "carry a sword in vain," but surely one does not believe they were to merely buy a sword to "bluff!" I believe this plainly teaches we are to provide protection for us and our families against an evil doer. If not what meaneth this command to "buy a sword?"
A Christian's Right To Serve In The Army
In Acts 10 we have the case of the conversion of Cornelius. Now he was a centurion (captain) of the band called the Italian band ... a commissioned officer in an army. But I have heard it said that he had to resign his commission. This is begging the question — no such indication or even intimation is made of such. And what an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to let us know that we cannot serve in the Army, in this case. All that would have had to be said was, "and Cornelius had to resign his commission." But here is a member of the church that is an officer in an army. I believe this will always stand in the way of the idea of conscientious objection to serving our country as a member of the armed forces.
But What About "Love" ?
What about it? Does God love the world? (John 3:16) Does he execute vengeance upon evil doers through his "minister" civil government? See Romans 13:1-7 again. To say that one who functions as a servant of civil government either as a peace officer or as a member of the army is lacking in the love that is required of a Christian, is to indict God of the same. He loves the world, but he is bringing his wrath on evil doers through his minister, civil government. Does one have a right to a "conscience" in this matter in the face of these plain scriptures?
— 788 Neponset St., Norwood, Mass. 02062