Why is there so much strife and confusion going on?
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.James 3:16
This morning, I was asked a question on Facebook asking how Romans 13:1 fits into standing up against fear and those using coercion to implement policies that produce fear. Romans says “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.” This is where the confusion comes in because most people do not have a grasp on who or what the governing authority is in the United States of America. They assume that authority is placed in a man.
Our founding fathers were very wise when they formed our government They did not want authority to be placed in a human. They had had their fill of tyranny from one individual. So they devised a plan where authority was placed in a document rather than any single individual or group of individuals. They placed authority in the Constitution and made that document the authority we live and govern by. Any changes to that document must pass a strict process where those governed must assent to the changes. Thus, in the end, the authority was changed from a King or Emperor to the people being governed.
So now when we read “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.” the Christian submits to the authority of the Constitution. As such, when the Constitution is not being followed, part of that submission is to demand that it be followed and when the Government is going beyond that Constitution then the Christian must stand against the usurpation of authority by the Government because they are standing against the tyranny being done to their fellow citizens.
Both holding Governments accountable to follow the Constitution and resisting when they are not accountable is part of subjecting and submitting to the governing authority in our nation.
What about rendering unto Caesar?
Once you understand the principle of what is our governing authority, then you will understand how to apply this scripture.
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.Mark 12:17
In the days Jesus walked this earth, the governing authority was in Emperor Caesar. What Caesar said was law. It was a dictatorship. The governing authority was invested in one man. Thus Jesus answered that you should be subject to the governing authority of the day.
Today, if Jesus were to be asked the same question in America, he would have replied, “render unto the Constitution what is the Constitution’s and unto God what is God’s. He would have told them to submit to the governing authority.
Here is where the confusion comes in. Too many people are equating submitting to the government to submitting to the governing authority. Just because the government makes a directive does not mean that it is in accordance with our governing authority i.e. the Constitution. Thus when the government goes beyond their and our governing authority, we are not required to render unto Caesar.
What about loving the weaker brother?
I have seen people try to use love as the motivation for submitting to wearing masks. In all honesty folks, scientists are not in agreement on whether or not masks help or hurt the health of the general public when they are worn in a non-sterile environment. So the overall general argument concerning loving your neighbor more than yourself is invalidated because of the pros and cons of wearing masks. Your effort at loving your neighbor just might be endangering them more.
However, there is an argument from 1 Corinthians 8 that needs to be specifically addressed. In Paul’s day, there was confusion and strife about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul told the Corinthians this…
“9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”1 Corinthians 8:9
Paul told the Corinthians that dead meat was dead meat, but that some might have a weaker conscience and think they were somehow sinning against God if they supported the sacrificed meat trade. Paul told those of stronger conscience that they refrained from eating meat sacrificed to idols if they were with people who had a weak conscience.
This argument has been used in the wearing of masks and in social distancing in general. Usually, the ones that have been labeled as “having a weaker conscience” have been those that wearing masks out of fear. I actually think it is the opposite because this is an issue of conscience and not wanting to sin against God.
You see, those that are refusing to wear masks and all the social distancing feel that if they do so they are submitting to tyranny and that tyranny is contrary to the will of God. It violates their conscience to accept tyranny. It is a usurpation of God’s place in their life by following Government directed tyranny beyond the governing authority of the Constitution. It is accepting sin. It is being worldly.
Whereas, those who are demanding that masks be worn are demanding it for their own safety and possibly the safety of others. It does not seem to be a matter of conscience but of self-interest. I could be wrong.
Because of all this, we have strife and confusion, and self-seeking.
I have done my best to lead in love. We do not want to cause people to violate their conscience, we do not want to render unto Caesar what is not his, and we have tried to walk in love. If I am the one that has a weak conscience, so be it. This is where I stand.