Opposing Unjust Laws

“One may ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all,'” wrote Martin Luther King, jr, in a letter from the Birmingham jail.

What then is an unjust law? The Reverend King wrote: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

“Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire,” wrote The Reverend King. (Letter from the Birmingham Jail)

We must obey G-D rather than men.

Acts 5:29

In his article Widerstand: Luther and the Freedom to Resist Unjust Authority, Matthew Phillips, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Concordia University, Nebraska, wrote: “According to the New Testament, Christians should follow laws established by temporal authorities for the sake of their consciences (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:19–20). However, the earliest Christian church began at odds with both Jewish leaders and Roman rulers. The first persecution of the church in Jerusalem led Peter and apostles to proclaim the primary text for Christian resistance to unjust authority: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).”

It’s a balancing act. We are told we must indeed obey those in authority, leaders, even employers. However, we must “do so without denying Christ or compromising our faith, we must always strive to cooperate with the ruling powers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we will endorse all of their policies or approve of every specific action they take. This is especially true in a democratic society, where it is the duty of responsible citizens to examine public servants with a discerning and critical eye. Nevertheless, Christians are responsible to uphold biblical righteousness in a hostile culture while also expressing respect for its leadership.” (from A CHRISTIAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH A “GODLESS” GOVERNMENT, Focus On The Family)

No where do I find anything that promotes violent opposition. All true Christian opposition is both respectful and peaceful. Christians do not take to the streets and riot, destroying property, demanding “justice.” It seems to me the best example of opposition to an unjust law is the Boston Tea Party. After boarding the ships and dumping the tea in the harbor, the men cleaned the mess they’d made on the decks and departed. No one was hurt.

L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .


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