A friend recently said, and I have heard this many times, that we as Christians should not be involved in politics. We should concentrate on giving out the Gospel. A speaker I was told about warned against paying attention to Glenn Beck and implying that he is obsessed with politics and patriotism. It is good advice to remember that we are Christians first and Americans second. Still, it is important to remember that we are free to be Christians in good measure because of our rights as citizens, which are being sucked away by Secular Humanism.
Here’s an example from Scripture. Jesus Christ knew that there were people in his day who wanted to be free of Rome. They were called Zealots. They objected to Rome’s control and Rome’s soldiers tramping around making demands of them. Under Roman law, a soldier could take a Jew’s coat. He couldn’t take the only thing he had to protect him from weather, so it was a matter of taking an extra garment. That’s why Jesus said, if he wants your coat, give him your cloak too. If a soldier says carry this load a mile, again, a legal request under Roman law, you should carry the load two miles. If a soldier struck someone on the cheek, it was because Roman law permitted it because the person had committed some offense. The Roman soldiers were there to protect people, to serve them, and they were entitled to these reciprocal arrangements under the law, whether the people liked them or not.
Now, these laws were, of course, abused by corrupt soldiers. Jesus wasn’t talking about that. His message was the same as the Old Testament prophets when the Israelites were defeated and became subjects of a foreign power. God told the prophets to tell the people not to resist, not to rebel, once they were conquered. This was God’s will, His discipline for their idolatry and disobedience. This is what was happening again under Roman rule. So when Jesus says turn the other cheek, he doesn’t mean put up with people trouncing your rights. He doesn’t mean let them sack your house, take your daughter as a trophy, etc. Conquered people had rights under Roman law. Jesus was saying follow the law, submit to Rome, don’t start a rebellion.
The other side of the coin was the Apostle Paul. Paul was being persecuted, not by Rome, but by his fellow Jews. Wherever he went they started a riot. They accused him and his followers of treason to get them in trouble. Paul was scooped up by Roman soldiers and taken in for questioning on so many occasions after one of these riots he just brings up a few as examples. Now, being questioned because Romans think you started a riot and are a rebel meant being whipped severely. That’s what examination by scourging means. They were about to do that to Paul, when he mildly asked, “Is it lawful to scourge a citizen, uncondemned?”
The leader of the soldiers wasn’t just given pause by that question. He stopped dead. No, it was not lawful to scourge an uncondemned citizen. And this soldier had been forced to purchase his citizenship. Paul pointed out that he was born a Roman Citizen. The soldier was terrified. Paul could have had serious legal recourse if the scourging had been carried out. The Jews weren’t content to just get Paul arrested and possibly scourged and imprisoned. They were trying to kill him. A group of men bound themselves to an oath to fast until they had killed Paul. Paul found out about this plot and appealed to the soldiers to protect him. They did. He was escorted out of harm’s way with an armed guard of mounted soldiers, a fast ride to another jurisdiction. That was his right as a citizen, even though he was a prisoner.
Paul was on trial yet again before Festus, who didn’t seem to grasp the problem. He knew Paul wasn’t guilty of treason and intended to release him, after conferring with Agrippa, but Paul knew he would be killed as soon as he walked out the door. So he appealed to Caesar, meaning he had to be transported under guard to Rome. This, again, was invoking his legal rights under Roman law, even as a prisoner. And he got what he asked for.
All of this makes Roman law in the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul a step up from what we have now. This is America. We are citizens, born or naturalized, and as such we have rights under the Constitution and are supposed to have laws to protect those rights. So we have a perfect right to protest when our rights are trampled on. This is not a soldier asking us to carry a load for him a mile or two. This is a police officer saying we have no right to use a gun on a home invader. He’s wrong, we do have that right. We are supposed to keep and bear arms. Yet gun control laws are pervasive, and even in states where homeowners still have the right to keep a gun in the house they are almost certain to be arrested if they shoot a housebreaker and can’t prove he was trying to kill them. Gun control is just one example, but it’s what I like to call a big, dumb, obvious one.
People being arrested for canvassing in a public park is another one. Some Christians went to a park where a homosexual group was having a rally/fair/in-your-face event, and the Christians variously handed out literature, talked to people, or lay down on the ground with arms outstretched, in protest, apparently, of the blatant display of immorality that normally goes on at such events. The homosexuals called police and claimed harassment, intimidation, and threatening behavior, none of which occurred. People were arrested without cause, without evidence of wrongdoing, when they claimed they had a right to do what they were doing in a public place. They were just hauled away to prevent the event’s doings from being disturbed.
Once again, this is a big, dumb, obvious one. The Constitution doesn’t say your right to peaceably assemble is conditional upon whether someone lies about you and says they’re scared of you. Peaceable assembly can’t just be usurped by local law enforcement.
Glenn Beck knows a lot about the Constitution. He may not always be right in what he says or how he acts, but he knows American freedoms guaranteed at the founding are being taken away. He wants to stop that, and we should want it too. But let’s take Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul as our example, not entertainers who might know some stuff and mean well. They are not our life-guides. The Scriptures, as always, have the ultimate answers. “Therefore be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Don’t start a rebellion, but know your rights, and stand up for them.