The intended purpose of the Constitution is clear – set forth in the “Preamble” memorized by many of us.
I think Christians should respect that.
We the People of the United States, in Order to
- form a more perfect Union,
- establish Justice,
- insure domestic Tranquility,
- provide for the common defence,
- promote the general Welfare,
- and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Source)
It was crafted by imperfect but very well educated, intelligent, experienced, brave men much concerned with how we might be able to live together without destroying each other. That is a big deal!
It is precisely about getting a system running that would enable “us” to live together relatively peacefully. It ain’t easy. These men had risked their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to make it possible. They knew the long brutal human history of governmental and civic failure.
When Christians urge me (or us) to honor and obey the civil authorities without reservation or hesitation, they dishonor the US Constitution.
When they say or imply we are not to criticize our leaders, to never disobey them nor encourage anyone else to disobey them – WOW! I get sad, angry, amazed.
I see major problems with that attitude, problems of ethics, history, and Bible teaching.[See: Christians Should Respect the US Constitution (1)]
We should honor and protect the Constitution.
It’s An Ethical Issue
To critique the Constitution is one thing.
To refuse to honor the Constitution, or to encourage others to despise it – as some of our governmental and other leaders do – is morally wrong.
Does not Scripture say that “Love does no wrong to a neighbor … therefore love is the fulfillment of the law?” And the purpose of the Constitution – and the Amendments, including the old “Bill of Rights” – and the ways it has almost always been interpreted, are precisely to try to keep Americans from doing “wrong to a neighbor.” Really. That’s the point.
It Is An Historical Issue
In US History our Heroes Were Often those who Disobeyed Formal Authority.
They did so in honor of deeper moral principles, often explicitly appealing to Constitutional principles – which is what the Constitution is trying to provide space for us to do.
- Washington and dozens of other “founding fathers” were rebels, and they later created the Constitution in order to protect key values for which they became resisters.
- The operators of the Underground Railway for runaway slaves (including one of my great-grandfathers).
- Martin Luther King Jr and thousands of civil rights activists.
- Those who uncovered President Nixon’s wrongdoings.
- Many of the resisters against the Vietnam War.
- Many activists today – the ones (unlike the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, etc.) who are nonviolent and trying hard to get the nation’s attention to dangerous anti-Constitutional actions.
We well know there are dozens more examples that could easily be added to this list – the list is very very long.
This is our history; and these are our heroes.
It Is a Biblical Issue
Many – most – Bible heroes were persons living in resistance to official authority,
in order to serve deeper issues of morality, of values, of the written or unwritten “Constitutions” under which they were living.
- Moses, against Pharaoh and the whole government of Egypt.
- David, in rebellion against his own divinely anointed king, his father-in-law, Saul
- Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. strongly critical of the power- and wealth-elites and governments in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
- Jesus, hated and persecuted by BOTH religious and governmental powers, to whom he was often disrespectufl and resistant.
- The apostles: “We must obey God rather than men.”
- These are the kinds of behavior and teaching that made it into the Bible as examples for us.
- This is our Bible; these are our heroes.