This week we in the United States will celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Was the signing of the Declaration and the war that followed justified according to the Bible?
Ecclesiastes 8:2 tells us we to obey the rulers of the land for God’s sake. Romans 13:1-2 also says we are to be subject to the ruling authorities because they have been appointed by God. Paul says to rebel against authority is to rebel against what God has established. Titus 3:1 says we are to be obedient to rulers and authorities. I Peter 2:3-17 commands us to submit to every authority established by men.
The colonists of the American Revolution did not submit to the authorities in existence—the British government. The reason was because the British government was unjust—the Declaration is a list of grievances. In I Peter 2:18-21, immediately after the passage on submitting to every authority, Peter tells servants to submit even to unjust masters. He uses Jesus as an example of someone who suffered unjustly and states that this is commendable to God.
Does the Bible ever say it is permissible to rebel against unjust authority? The only time the Bible instructs us to do so is when the authority demands we take an action which is contrary to God’s command (Acts 5:29). Read through the Declaration. While the British government was most definitely unjust, did they require anything of the colonists which would cause the colonists to take an action which was contrary to God’s requirements of them?
Just something to think about and debate this July 4th.