© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Biblical statements advocating civil obedience.

    A. Matt. 22:15-22; Mk. 12:13-17; Lk. 20:20-26 - "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,
         and to God the things that are God's."
    B. Romans 13:1-8 - "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is
         no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he
         who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God. ...render tax to whom tax is due."
    C. I Tim. 2:1,2 - "kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet
         life in all godliness..."
    D. Titus 3:1 - "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient..."
    E. I Peter 2:13-16 - "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to
         a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him... For such is the will of God..."

II. Biblical examples of civil disobedience.

    A. Jochabed
         1. Exod. 1:15 - 2:10; Heb. 11:23
         2. Right to preserve God's people.
    B. Esther
         1. Esther 3:6,15; 7:4-6
         2. Right to preserve God's people.
    C. Daniel
         1. Daniel 6:4-15
         2. Right to pray and worship.
    D. Peter and John
         1. Acts 5:29,41,42
         2. Right to preach the gospel.
    E. Paul
         1. Acts 16:35-40
         2. Right to just treatment.

III. Some historical examples of civil disobedience.

    A. Socrates - freedom of thought and speech.
    B. Early Christians - regarded as law breakers; would not bow to Roman emperor or his image.
    C. Lady Godiva - tax protest.
    D. Martin Luther - freedom of religion.
    E. John Bunyan - freedom of religion.
    F. American Revolution - tax protest.
    G. Abolitionists; Underground Railroad - racial rights.
    H. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoller - resistance of Nazis
    I. Martin Luther King - racial rights.
    J. Anabaptists, Quakers, Mennonites, Brethren communities - resistance to war.
    K. Operation Rescue - abortion.

IV. Principles of civil disobedience.

    A. Our highest authority is God in Christ.
    B. Government is capable of great evil.
    C. Submission to governing authorities does not mean uncritical obedience.
    D. Laws that are contrary to God's revealed will are to be disobeyed.
    E. Disobedience should be non-violent.
    F. Those who engage in civil disobedience must be willing to accept consequences.

V. Personal questions.

    A. Would you have defied Hitler's decrees and refused to turn Jewish neighbors over to S.S.
    B. Would you carry Bibles into a country where it was forbidden to possess such?
    C. Would you defy the law of military conscription and refuse to participate in war?
    D. Would you disobey the law and refuse to pay taxes to a government that was using them
         wrongfully or for evil purposes?
    E. Would you join a pro-life group defying laws against protest at abortion clinics?
    F. Would you disobey the law in order to educate your children in the manner you regard to be
         best for them?
    G. Would you defy the law and refuse to salute the American flag?
    H. If you were a Christian in Cuba today, would you join efforts to overthrow Castro's
    I. Would you disobey the law and drive without a seat-belt?
    J. If you had a mentally disabled daughter, would you defy the law and have her sterilized to
         protect her?



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