It can be seen that members of our modernized society have the tendency to oppose rightfully ordained and established authorities. It appears that many display a growing attitude of hostility toward people who have been appointed to positions of leadership, whether it be parents, teachers, employers, police officers, or whatever other biblically sanctioned governing powers exist. Our culture has forgotten the meaning of obedience, along with what is means to provide discipline. The secular philosophy of moral relativism has no doubt contributed to our perspective on authority being corroded. After all, the concept of authority is rendered subjective, and thus to no avail, in a morally subjective worldview. The idea that the individual is to be the final arbitrator of truth has been a major springboard for grandiloquence in people. In fact, authority has been perceived by some to be a means of violating human rights. What is authority? What are its proper applications? Why is authority necessary for society to function peacefully?
The New Testament as a general rule of thumb requires peaceful submission, not rebellion in the name of some alleged Christian liberty. Scripture exhorts us to respect and obey government, provided that the specific laws enforced in a particular context do not violate the commandments of God (Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; Hebrews 13:7). Quite simply, authority is the power to enforce rules or make decisions. It was established by God. He is the ultimate source of all law and order. Therefore, a person who claims to be anti-government is in a very real sense also retaliating against God Himself. A leader acting corruptly in an office does not prove the existence of that position to be evil, anymore than the mishandling of a rule in itself proves it to be wrong. Being authoritative does not translate into being authoritarian. What we should be on guard for is the abuse of various laws and the wrongful possession of the offices designated to enforce them. Inequitable laws ought not be adhered to, since they are morally wrong. We must reject unlawful rules and regulations. Authority must be properly applied.
The purpose of authority is to regulate order, which also includes the punishing of criminals. Rules are not meant to suppress and coerce, but rather are applied so as to protect and serve. In an ideal state, government is not something that a person should fear, insofar that he or she has nothing to hide. The existence of earthly authorities is evidence of human civilization not being utopian. It is evidence pointing to the sinful nature of man. If we were not defiled by sin, then there would be no need for the appointment of earthly heads. Nevertheless, all authority is to be subjugated to the divine authority of God. The aforementioned details describing the proper role of authority are applicable to all different types of authority, regardless of whether they be local, regional, or national. Authority should be respected. Authority should be honored. Authority derives its value from God.
If there were no figures of authority existing in our world, then how could peace be maintained? Anarchy only results in further anarchy. Neither would it be wise to give the majority supreme authority, since doing such would inevitably lead to the ruthless persecution of minority groups. God is our supreme authority, who has graciously inscribed His precepts into our minds. His laws are a reflection of His character. Authority figures are supposed to uphold His truth, not invent additional decrees for their own purposes. Being in a position of authority means being in a position of greater responsibility. If a person literally has the freedom to act in accordance to his or her own whim with no binding restrictions, then that is not freedom. That definition is an utter distortion of the concept. Freedom demands self-control. Freedom is conditioned by morality, and therefore cannot exist in a morally subjective worldview. Governments cannot function in a logically consistent relativistic framework, and would therefore serve no purpose. It would be illogical to even have laws in a morally relativistic framework.
God instituted authority to enforce rules, and so preserve our liberties. It is designed to maintain peace and order. It is designed to serve. Authority is designed to work for the best interests of the people. Governments are to be obeyed, as long as the commandments of God are not contradicted. Our freedom is protected by just laws, which are to be enforced by just authorities. There is a distinction between legal and lawful. This is a consequence of mankind's sinful condition. God, the King and Lord of us all, has revealed to us laws with the intention of ensuring protection and peace. Whatever spiritual battles that we may end up fighting with the principalities and powers of this world should not discourage us from wanting to enter into the fullness of God's presence eternally in paradise.
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