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Fear the President, or Fear the Lord?

Welcome to the Romans 13 Report, your LCI President’s corner where I observe how internet pundits use scripture to discuss issues of the day. Will today’s entries be good, benign, or ugly?

Today we look at a Christian Post “Voices” article from March 2022, following Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, titled Fearing the Lord and fearing America’s president.

Mr. Delzell essentially wants to criticize President Biden for being a weak president, in particular citing the Ukraine response and withdrawal from Afghanistan as demonstrative of such. 

If that’s where the article stopped, then it would be your typical conservative critique and rather unnoteworthy. But the odd part of this article is how it wants to use Romans 13 to justify “being a strong state” of a kind. In other words, Joe Biden should have gone to fight Russia in Ukraine and should not have withdrawn from Afghanistan because Romans 13 says the state is there to “maintain law, order, peace, and security…” 

Really?

The irony here is that the author doesn’t seem to want to apply the same logic to Russia, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. How do you know, dear author, if Russia is not being a “terror to those who do wrong” in Ukraine? Are you privy to all details of the conflict? When Paul wrote Romans, it was during the time of the pagan Caesars of Rome. Are they not comparable to Putin on his own terms?

That is not to defend Russia – by no means! Russia is the aggressor, plain and simple. The USA botched policy all over the place and did help enable this. That’s not in question. But the use of Romans 13 as justification for taking part in world conflict is not a good argument. How does one get from “terror to those who do wrong” to suddenly being the policeman of the world, contra the advice of American founders such as George Washington to avoid “entangling alliances” while engaging in commerce and honesty with the world? This kind of Romans 13 appeal is designed to justify the state, and that’s not what Romans 13 is about.

The author then proceeds to muddy the waters of policy analysis more by making an analogy of Jesus’ boldness (cf. John 3:36, Matthew 10:28, John 3:16) compared to “appeasement” language of the Biden administration. From the author: “Christian leaders are called to speak the truth in love, while American presidents must understand that appeasement simply emboldens the enemies of freedom and democracy… While every president throughout American history has made mistakes, some of Joe Biden’s appeasement policies over the past 14 months have delivered deadly consequences that were entirely avoidable.”

This is a rather odd sort of equivocation, as if the author is saying “speak more like Jesus, oh ye World Leaders, and things will go better.” Well, alright, but did Jesus call for armed conflict like this? To ask is to answer.

Again, this diatribe is not to defend Biden. On the contrary, I would argue that the US federal government is too involved in foreign entanglements, including Ukraine, by funding their military efforts to the tune of billions of dollars. This should not be.

While there are certainly good elements in the author’s discussion of repentance, the overall confusion of policy and ethics renders the crux of the argument on the verge of baffling.

If you found this helpful and want more articles like this, let us know via LCI’s contact page or on our Facebook page. This is an experiment we’re looking to continue.

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