Here is the fourth installment of a series on Romans 13:1-7. Romans 13:1-7 requires us to take our obligations to the government seriously. The Apostle Paul wrote about the ancient Roman Empire. How does what he wrote apply to us as citizens of the United States?
- PART 1 introduced the topic.
- PART 2 examined this question: How do we know when those who claim authority over us as our governmental leaders have been appointed by God?
- PART 3 asked: What is the difference between the obedience we owe to the governing authorities and the obedience we owe to God?
Here we will consider the following question:
How high a priority should a Christian give his role as a citizen of a constitutional republic?
Most of Romans 13:1-7 is about obeying those in authority. Because the Roman Empire was a brutal, authoritarian state, both Jews and Christians had little love for it. At best, there is only a vague hint of that thing we call patriotism.
Our own country, by contrast, is a republic. To make a republic work requires more than just obedience. Patriotism is needed.
Definition of patriotism: love for or devotion to one’s country
Why is love required? Consider this explanation of citizenship from the Citizenship Resource Center at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities
Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. We are a nation bound not by race or religion, but by the shared values of freedom, liberty, and equality.
Throughout our history, the United States has welcomed newcomers from all over the world. The contributions of immigrants have helped shape and define the country we know today. More than 200 years after our founding, naturalized citizens are still an important part of our democracy. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you too will have a voice in how our nation is governed.
The decision to apply is a significant one. Citizenship offers many benefits and equally important responsibilities. By applying, you are demonstrating your commitment to this country and our form of government.
Below you will find several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation.
- Freedom to express yourself.
- Freedom to worship as you wish.
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
- Right to vote in elections for public officials.
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to run for elected office.
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
With rights come responsibilities. When the people of a nation stop fulfilling their responsibilities, they lose their rights.
Why does our republic exist? Why are so many Americans patriotic? Consider the passage that follows Romans 13:1-7.
Romans 13:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
Love Your Neighbor
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” [a]“You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Our country is the home of our family, friends, and neighbors. So long as enough Americans love their neighbors and do their best to care for our country, we will continue to have a republic. Otherwise, we shall disintegrate into a mob led by demagogues. Is that something we want to happen to people we love? Of course not!
Enjoyed this post Tom and the importance you stress on rights vs responsibilities. The rights we enjoy and the freedoms we have to live our lives pretty much how we want to would bring anarchy if enough people check out of owning up to the responsibilities required for good citizenship. I fear anarchy is quite a bit closer that assumed.
I am no prophet, but whenever we fail to properly instruct our children in wisdom, we make their lives much more difficult. In recent decades lots of parents have left the education of their children to someone else. The does not work.
No it doesn’t work Tom and it not only makes their children’s lives more difficult, it makes all of ours having to deal with an ill informed public.
Excellent! Every American of voting age should read your post! Bravo, Tom!
I like the link of rights to responsibilities.
Problem of house is too many based on the news, like the rights but are not aware of their responsibilities.
We grant citizenship fairly readily, but don’t seem to have figured out what to do about requiring adherence to the resposibility part of citizenship.
Who to blame?
Regards and good will blogging
Don’t think there is an easy solution for some things.
Many of the rules of a society are enforced through custom. Communities subtly punish members who fail to abide by their standards. Unfortunately, our government has displaced many of the private associations Americans use to form, and we have become a very transient society. Hence, communities don’t have as strong a role as they once had.
Great comment and timing. I used your comment in an article I just posted. Hope you don’ mind, it fitted right in the issue.
Regards and good will blogging.
Only slightly off topic: What do you think about a SCOTUS that has a mostly Catholic scriptural interpretation?
The issue for a Supreme Court justice is being faithful to the Constitution. I think Catholics can manage that. Don’t know why you think it might be an issue, but identity politics preoccupies Democrats.
Ahh, the tribalistic response tries to trump what it thinks is the identity politics assertion – I think you may have stalemated yourself Tom.
Actually, I just think it foolish to go where angels fear to tread. What could we possibly gain by dignifying the discussion of that subject?
Wasn’t Kennedy a Catholic too?
I think so. I am as well. And Trump’s latest pick quite obviously promotes his Catholicism.
Given that the majority denomination in this country is Protestant, don’t you find it statistically interesting that Catholics do dominate the denomination of the Court so much?
Every person is an individual in their faith but we Catholics tend look more toward the Church’s intercessionary role than say the evangelical Protestant denominations do, On the other hand, although most of the church hierarchy is ultra conservative on issues like gay rights, contraception, divorce, birth control and abortion, the lay members of the American Catholic Communion are much more divided. And on some social issues, such as capital punishment and immigrant and refugee rights, I think Catholics tend far toward the liberal side. The same goes for many economic issues.
I think that the Constitution demands s certain amount of religious neutrality, but I also recognize that perfect religious neutrality is impossible – we have brains that are religiously shaped and our moral patterning is ultimately religious in nature no matter how much we may try to think otherwise.
Kavanaugh was practically bred in a laboratory of legal conservatism, and his CV shows rather extreme partisan loyalty, but once on the Court, partisan gamesmanship often does (and in my opinion should) fall by the wayside to institutional loyalties to the rules of juris prudence. Remember the three moderate disappointments to (especially social) conservatives were Republican appointees: O’Conner, Kennedy and Souter. It’s also worth noting that Richard Nixon appointed Justice Blackmun, the author of Rowe v. Wade and Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren.
But I digress. I’m not trying to pick a fight, despite Tom’s and your defensiveness. I just thought it was statistically interesting (not necessary bad or good) that so many justices (including a Democratic appointee) are Catholics. Maybe they’ve been putting something in the Holy Water during the past few decades.
We could randomly select nine people. Odds are that that group would have either more Catholics or fewer Catholics than we find in the national population. However, if we selected 100 different samples of nine, we would probably find our mean sample has a percentage of Catholics that looks like the national population.
” I’m not trying to pick a fight, despite Tom’s and your defensiveness.”
How am I being defensive?
He’s replacing Kennedy. He is a Catholic. Kennedy was a Catholic. So I’m not sure what there is to see here. He’s already on record as siding with stare decisis on Roe.
Think there are more Jews on the USSC too. Three Jewish justices, and Jews make up about 2 percent of the population.
Just to add, if I had to hazard a guess, there is probably a strong correlation between the religious demographics of the USSC and the religious demographics of judges in the US.
I don’t really want our USSC to be decided based on demographics, I want the best people for the job. If more Jews/Catholics are experienced in law that’s probably why they are represented more strongly.
I’m reminded of the recent USAF push to promote “under-represented” members to command positions, who may or may not be as qualified as others….generally results in bad outcomes.
“Think there are more Jews on the USSC too. Three Jewish justices, and Jews make up about 2 percent of the population.”
That’s true too. I’m not smart enough to get Tom’s answer so I’m just going with the answer that Catholics and Jews are just smarter than everybody else.😉
Not smart enough? Yeah! Sure!
” I’m not smart enough to get Tom’s answer so I’m just going with the answer that Catholics and Jews are just smarter than everybody else”
Heh, not necessarily “smarter” (but maybe..) more likely to specialize in Constitutional law though.
(probably tax law too)
Interesting when the pastor starts talking about patriotism. In your area he must be considered quite radical.
Hmmm, I think we are in agreement here, Tom. The subject of “rights” can be very complex,especially in a Western context, where we are so used to them, we don’t even realize the water is wet.
A bit funny, I spent a week debating in favor of patriotism in our churches and ironically, submission in marriage. Went to church Sunday and our pastor suddenly decided to do all patriotic songs and to preach on Ephesians 5. He did a lovely job too, just perfect, but I was laughing because it seemed as if he may have been having the precise same debates I had been! So, a display of full on rebellion against “culture,” but actually some celebratory submission to God. That is kind of the condundrum many of us find ourselves in.