On the heels of our most recent Independence Day celebration I was contemplating the relationship between the Revolutionary War and the Bible. Paul says in Romans 13:1-7:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Does America’s War for Independence follow these criteria? Many have argued on both sides of this issue. I see some serious problems with arguing that America was upholding the Biblical mandate during the Revolutionary War. I understand all of the reasons for declaring independence from Great Britain, but none of them could have been more compelling than Paul’s reasons to rebel against the Roman government.
I think I learned a few important lessons from this miniature historical exercise: (1) Do not to glamorize America’s past, realize that God can still bring good from bad. (2) Do not assume that every decision America has made in the name of “life and liberty” is perfect. America is not the standard for right and wrong — that is reserved for the perfect and holy God of the Bible.