The original question was:
Since Paul says in Romans 13, that “Christians should Submit to governments”, doesn’t that mean that Christians, such as you lot, should stop opposing gay marriage, and start having ministers who will marry gays and transgenders?
Answer by Joseph Hubbard
To answer this let us look at the full context of what Paul is teaching in Romans 13, starting at verse 1:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves. (Romans 13: 1-2)
In these verses it is clear that we as Christians are commanded to be subject to, or to submit to governing bodies, i.e., those who rule over us. It even tells us why we should do so: because all rulers are appointed by God, and to resist them is to resist God. God instituted the system of human government way back at the end of Noah’s flood, where he gave the command:
Whoever shed’s man’s blood, By man his blood shall be slain; for in the image of God He has made man. (Genesis 9:6).
In giving this command, God tells mankind that if someone murders, it is up to another man to condemn him, and put him to death – in other words, someone is governing. This God-given system of government is continued throughout the Bible, as God develops the system of judges in Exodus, and then, in response to His people’s rebellion, the system of kings, in Samuel 2.
It is also interesting to note, that God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, which far succeeds anything we could ever understand, sometimes allows wicked governments to rule, for His own purposes, or to judge other nations. An example of this would be King Nebuchadnezzar, see what God says in Jeremiah 27:5-7:
I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me. And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them. (Jeremiah 27:5-7)
There is no way you could define Nebuchadnezzar as a good or just king. Any Middle-Eastern historian or archaeologist will tell you he had a reputation of being harsh and ruthless, slaughtering thousands. Yet here, God says He has appointed him to come and take over His people, and that all the nations shall serve him! So in all things, we know that God has His hand in every government, whether we can see it or not.
But what does submitting to governments actually mean to us as Christians? Does it mean that we “go along” with every rule, law, and policy? Not necessarily – and that isn’t to contradict scripture either.
Look at Paul. He was constantly imprisoned, beaten, and twice sentenced to death by the governing authorities and finally beheaded by command of Emperor Nero, around AD66. Why? Because Paul refused to stop preaching the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the point in time Nero had fully banned Christianity, so Christians could in no way submit to the world’s ‘highest legal’ governing bodies – and still be Christians! Let us remember that in God’s given rule of submission to earthly authorities, there is always the God demanded exception – obedience must first be to the rules of the world’s Highest Legal Authority, the Creator God Himself.
When we become Christians, we must submit ourselves to the complete rule of God. We have asked Him to take control of our lives, and where there is a conflict we must always choose His ways. God set up governments to rule, to bring peace and justice to society, and to maintain order. We as Christians should follow, and submit to those governments, unless they command us to do other than what God authorises us to do. Then we must always turn back to our Creator and Judge, and obey His commands.
An example of this is found in Acts 5. The apostles were in a sticky situation. Jesus’ last command to them had been to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). Yet the council – the governing body over them, had commanded them to stop preaching. So what were they to do? Submit to the government, and disobey Jesus? Well look at what Peter told the High Priest:
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29
So when it comes to things that are not against God’s will or commandments, we submit to governments, because God has placed those governments to rule over us. This includes things such as taxes, road laws, etc. But when governments create laws that go against what God has explicitly commanded, we sadly have to willingly disobey governments, and choose to obey our God and Saviour.
So how does that work in regards to homosexual marriage laws?
You can try to deny what God teaches about homosexuals, but it is completely futile in the end. Just look at a few verses throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
We see here that God created marriage to be between one man, and one woman, for life.
Genesis 19:4-5, 24:
Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”
Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
We see here, that God finds the habits and conductions of the homosexual community at Sodom so disgustingly wicked, that He destroys the city. And it doesn’t get any clearer than the Law of God which He spoke to Moses.
You shall not lie (have sex with) a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
Abomination – that’s pretty clear! But this is Old Testament. What does Jesus say about the issue? Well the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Creator God and the same Lord who gave the Law, so He has the same view.
When asked a question about marriage he replied:
But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:6-8)
Here Jesus repeats what He said in Genesis, confirming that He made them male and female, and that marriage was to be between one man, and one woman, for life. But look at what He goes on to say in verse 9:
Therefore, whatever God has joined together, Let not man separate. (Mark 10:9)
These famous words are used in marriage vows, but notice the importance. Marriage is God’s invention, let NO man redefine it. Jesus’ definition of marriage leaves no room for anything else.
God’s law on marriage is affirmed by the Apostles, e.g. Paul writes:
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:9-11)
Notice ‘Sodomites’ in the collection of those who the law was made for? Yes, God still finds the acts of homosexuals wicked and sinful. But now for the final punch line in the New Testament, the equivalent of the Levitical law.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
It doesn’t get much clearer than that! And these are not my words, these are the words of Jesus Christ, the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge.
But there is good news for homosexuals, just as there is for thieves, liars, and every other sinner (which includes the whole human race because ‘All have sinned’ – Romans 3:23). Look what Paul tells the Corinthians who had been guilty of all of the above, in verse 11:
But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
What a wonderful message! No matter what the sin, God can wash you, sanctify you, and justify you through the work that Jesus accomplished on thee cross. The fact is that homosexuals are no more of a sinner than you or I, so who are we to judge? We have all sinned, all fallen short of God’s glory, and all deserve judgment. But the Good News, the Gospel is, that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and that we should repent of our wrong doings, and follow the saviour Jesus Christ. He will become our ultimate Ruler and King.
So yes, we submit to governments, because God has put them over us. But just like any human, those in power sin, and can create ungodly rules and command us to follow them. We do not, nor do we support the rules, as our ultimate ruler is Jesus Christ, who the governments will all have to answer to one day. So no, we will not stop opposing gay marriage, or appoint ministers to marry gay couples. We will, however, continue to spread God’s message to everyone, gay or not, that they are in need of a Saviour, and His name is Jesus.
We need to add one last item: any claims that gay marriage law does not stop Christians from sharing the gospel miss the fact that homosexual marriage law strikes at the very heart of the Christian gospel. The Gospel is about repenting from sin and receiving forgiveness, where sin is defined by God, not by man. Re-defining what God has declared to the wrong by labelling it as right allows homosexuals to believe they do not need to repent of, or be saved from this sin, and guarantees a sure road to Hell and judgement as they will neither seek nor receive forgiveness.
Illustration: Parliament House, Canberra, Australia
More questions on this topic:
HOMOSEXUALS: You claim they are not born that way. What evidence do you have? Answer here.
HOMOSEXUAL GENE? Have scientists now discovered a gene for homosexuality? Answer here.
For more information see John Mackay’s lectures Are Your Born Homosexual? What the Bible Says, and Sodomy and Gomorrah. Available from webshop: DVDs here. MP4 downloads here (Note: Sodomy and Gomorrah is in a two-part presentation with The Real Stone Age.)
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