Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Video from Australian Christian Lobby
Question: At what point Martin should we outwardly disobey the government so as to obey God?
"Yeah that's well I got a lot of heat from this for those of you who follow my. Facebook page. Look, let's get one thing very clear civil disobedience which is breaking the law so it's not advocating on issues, it's not giving feedback to your politicians, it's not it's a different thing. Actually breaking the law doing something illegal doing something criminal doing something you get in trouble for with the police. That is not a feature of Christianity. On the whole throughout history scriptures really there's only two commands in all of scripture that are very clearly given to us specifically and directly in relation to government. One is pray for them, I think if we believed in that we'd be more comfortable with the second one which is submit to them and honor them; The example. look it's two things I mean the very fact that that was written to people a Christian church living under Roman oppression is significant in itself. Because they were often Jewish converts as well and they had a history of being real troublemakers I mean Simon was a zealot right. It was you know pretty they're practically terrorists but also you had the Maccabean rebellion and all this kind of stuff in their history and the Romans found them notoriously hard to control and the apostle Paul writes to them and says, he actually says there's no authority except that which comes from God.
Therefore honor the ordinance of God and submit to governing authority it's not just Paul it's also written in 1st Peter 2 very similar things he talks about governors sent by God he says honor the king he says submit to them. He says the same thing and Jesus also gave two great examples on this, one of the examples he gave was they came to him and said do we have to pay the tribute money which is like a temple tax and he actually makes the point that oh well actually you're not citizens of the world and bound in the same way as people you know in a theological sense. But he says so is not to cause offence you go and do it you go and do it he says go find a fish get the money, go and pay the tax. And then he gets challenged about you know the the coin and he says they said should pay taxes to Caesar and he says render to Caesar.
What he says to us render to the Gods what is God's. One of the big mistakes people make is they take that one because it's the opportunity in all of them for civil disobedience right. That's handy, that's true but actually what belongs to Caesar is his place as a governing authority under God and Jesus said to Pilate, he said you would have no authority at all unless it were given to you from above.
But at the same time he acknowledged the legitimacy of that authority and he actually said so greater is the sin of the one who handed me over to you. In other words he's got a legitimate exercise of authority here and the greatest thing is with those who handed him over to the authority. So respect for authority submission to governing authorities is a Christian virtue. We are not anarchists, we are not law breakers, we are not rebellious,
we are not responsible for chaos that is not Christian. And in fact all through the scriptures the notion of submission is very strong and I do worry sometimes that we've made rights into an idol and basically would say yeah but I've got rights.
You hear this very often from American audiences where they say but the Constitution says and you go well it's not the 67th book of the bible. Right actually God says and so civil disobedience at best at a basic level generally is not part of Christian life okay and we've got to live with that. And look if God doesn't ask for your help with something he doesn't need it. If he says submit when you don't want to submit well he doesn't need your help and we've got to believe that he says. That he allows authorities we've got to believe, that we're to believe that he says pray for them and things will change. We'll believe that and do what we're told if you like now.
Of course there's limits the obvious limit is when the authorities tell you to do something which is a sin. Don't do it if the authorities get in the way of your relationship to God and want you to either fail to act or act in a way that is disobedient to God, don't do it. And it's very often the case that you so for example the conversion therapy law in Victoria, okay I'm not saying go out and do conversion therapy. What I am saying is that there's a section in there that says if you pray for someone because they ask you to because they want your prayers for them because of their gender dysphoria or their sexual identity and you pray for them you could go to jail. I'm saying live as though that law doesn't exist because you should pray for them or if you can't preach the whole council of God as a church leader because you can't get to Romans 1 and say what God says about these issues because of the conversion therapy law well too bad.
You've got to say it live as though the law doesn't exist in that circumstance. So there are laws in this country already that Christians are duty-bound not to keep but on the whole that is not true and I think this is really coming to a head over the pandemic stuff and I'm sorry my conscience is held captive by what the word of God says and it's very clear we've just got to hold our fire and wait. There are circumstances where it gets so bad that there's sort of a rebellion scenario. We're not there, we're not there and maybe I'll, I'll do the theology on that one when i get there." Transcript