Civil Disobedience (Acts 4:1-22)
May 24, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen or heard’” (vv. 19-20).
It’s sad to watch how Christians tend to teach a lot about submission to the government when the politicians or party for whom they have voted is in power but say very little about the topic when the opposition wins. Nothing in the Bible allows such a distinction. On the other hand, there is plenty of scriptural precedent for disobeying the government when it demands that people directly contravene God’s laws. We see it with the midwives in Moses’ day defying Pharaoh’s orders to kill the baby Israelite boys, with Daniel refusing to bow down to idolatrous statues, and here with the apostles refusing to abide by the Sanhedrin’s ban on speaking about Jesus.
How many Christians today would scarcely be inconvenienced by such a ban because they never talk about Jesus to non-Christians in the first place? Too often we have surrendered the public square to unbiblical prohibitions. Separation of church and state does not mean public schools cannot or should not teach about religion. Businesses have no right to interfere with what their workers talk about to each other so long as they are productively meeting their contractual obligations. Sometimes we may have to disobey orders not to speak about Christ. But we can disobey civilly (in both senses of the word!)—politely, explaining tactfully why we must do what we do. If we already have a track record of being the most devoted, hard-working employees, we may even win some respect in the process.