Friday, March 22, 2013

To Submit, or Not to Submit, That Is the Question

Which of the following may Evangelicals disobey? Or where do Evangelicals allow for disobedience? Or perhaps putting the questions that way is slanting things too much. After all, there are differences of opinion on some of these. Or maybe we can have differences of opinion on all of these. Things that make you go hmmm. . . .

1. "Let everyone submit to the governing authorities" (Rom. 13:1; cf. Tit. 3:1).

2. "You who are younger, submit to the elders" (1 Pet. 5:5; cf. Heb. 13:17).

3. "Wives, submit to your husbands . . ." (Col. 3:18; cf. Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 3:1).

4. "Servants, submit to your masters with all respect. . ." (1 Pet. 2:18; cf. Eph. 6:5).

In case you were wondering, the same Greek word is behind the word "submit" in all the verses listed here in one through four. Following the verses listed, some of the additional verses cited in parentheses (Heb. 13:17; Eph. 6:5) use different words that are often translated "obey" or the like.

1 comment:

Jon Sedlak said...

If there has been and remains a covenant between two "parties," a breach of the covenant provides an allowance for change and progress for the innocent party (ideally, with sanctions only upon the guilty party), which may necessitate "disobedience" in a certain sense. Certainly there should never be disobedience to God's Law. But since all authority is derived from God, and God has provided limits of authority upon all men (not usurping prerogatives or standards which are His own, or generating autonomous standards), any intentional lack of submission would therefore need to be "disobedience" to man's ungodly (evil) laws, "disobedience" to man's derived standards, and "disobedience" to man's unlawful usurpation of authority.

Also, I personally prefer to frame the question differently, shifting the focus to the heart of the "theological" discussion: Instead of asking "Which of them can we obey?," I prefer to ask, "Has there been a breach of covenant?" And if so:
What are the proper (lawful, edifying) sanctions?
What are the best ways in a fallen world to repair the breach?
Is it possible to repair the breach?
Am I being a better steward of God's resources by repairing the breach?
And does the circumstance necessitate the establishment of a new covenant with someone else -- some one or representative more faithful?

My understanding of covenantal theology -- on a practical level -- is that covenants between man and man are designed to build something within God's kingdom to the glory of God alone, and different circumstances of covenant infidelity call for different responses among the faithful throughout society. And so, "disobedience" under the rubric of "life in covenant" presupposes blessings for obedience and sanctions for disobedience, which is an inescapable theological concept analogous to our relationship with God as well.

These are just my thoughts -- thoughts which I've gathered through personal study...

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