Discussions in my men’s small group plunged into several interesting directions. One of our reading assignments was Romans 13, the chapter about obedience to Civil Government. If you can, click on this link to Romans 13 in the Blue Letter Bible:
Verses 1 thru 13 particularly stood out. One man asked, “In light of this passage, how did the founding fathers justify their revolution against Great Britain?”
I pointed him at Hebrews 11 – the classic “Hall of Faith.”
In the hall of faith, we discover hard, violent men of faith who rebelled against civil authority. In fact, many of their lives were spent in civil disobedience. Our founding fathers found themselves somewhere between the “Bookends” of Romans 13 and Hebrews 11.
Without getting into an argument with that man, I suggested he let the founding fathers explain themselves in the Declaration of Independence and the 28 grievances. I recommended he take particular notice that “Taxation without representation” was down around number 17.
The sixteen prior grievances were more important and got them more pissed than a 2% tax on tea.
The History of Taxation seems boring but people in general do not start insurrections over taxation. Charles Adams has a great book, For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization. Several takeaways enlighten readers to the nature of taxation. It is not paying taxes that take a people to rebellion. It is the attitude of the government, its increasing tyranny and decreasing regard for their lives. The system of justice swerves to gray and innocent life is not protected. Taxation is a symptomatic indicator of the cascading problems and perceptions. That makes a quick journey into the 28 grievances so interesting.
From number one through sixteen, the founding fathers described a monarch and government increasingly disconnected from a distant population in conflict with the environment, enemies on the frontiers, and in need of law and justice upon which the people could depend. Number seventeen, “For imposing taxes on us without our consent,” is a step along the path of tyranny that landed in colonists’ wallets and purses.
Key to one through sixteen, in juxtaposition to Romans 13, is the handling of innocent life. Civil Obedience rides on verse 10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” In other words, good government established by God treats life as sacred and works to protect innocent blood. The problem is evil government. Even their authority is established by God but when it fails to protect innocent life and ignores the shedding of innocent blood, making all things gray, the Creator of the heavens and the earth makes their job of governing a lot tougher.
A struggling government that imposes high taxes on its citizens are two indicators of Romans, chapter 1 – where the one who gives authority to governments and rulers first steps back from their hearts (verse 21), then their bodies (verse 24), and finally their minds (verse 28). At that point, a government that has lost its mind with high taxes, gray thinking, and no regard for innocent life, is ripe for insurrectionist plucking.
Watching our government flounder around on ISIS, Hilary’s email septic tank, and Iran sanctions, I think we are seeing a gray government in a gray city. Our founding fathers gave us the privilege of peaceful insurrection every four years in the voting booth. The problem out here in flyover country is that rank and file citizens are losing their faith in that process, as well. If we are to peacefully change our nation, then we need revival that re-teaches our generations that life is precious and violence that protects innocent blood is a standard that will take us back to greatness.
The problem with insurrection outside the voting booth is that angry, violent people do not often get peace and joy as an end result. Usually, the ardent nature of their passions fails to protect innocent blood. What we received from our founding fathers was a miracle of life. What the French got after their revolution against their monarch was rather typical of the age of enlightenment and industrialization.