Still Submitting?

The following entry was over 3 1/2 years ago, and I wonder what my friends and relatives in Malaysia feel now about not speaking out strongly against the Malaysian government today:

The recent independent day celebrations in Malaysia have, as one may expect, stirred a number of publications into putting out pieces on challenges facing Malaysia today. I sent one of these (from The Economist) to a number of people and it generated a little heat. That has lead to the creation of a new blog for certain family members to further talk about this and other issues. It also lead to the discussion of that age-old issue of what do we do with a government we don’t agree with?

This latter issue was raised in conjunction with obedience to Romans 13. That chapter started with a call to submit to the authority of the existing government. Of course, in a modern democracy, you fight like crazy to have your preferred candidate making the laws and no matter what the outcome of your fight, you have to remain law abiding citizens. That is an obvious starting point. Our natural instinct tells us however, that it is a relative and malleable principle. It doesn’t take much to respond, at the very next breath, with a yes-but. The holocaust jumps out in a flash in a topic like this. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, modern Serbia, Rwanda and most recently, Zimbabwe are regimes which scream out against an unqualified plain reading of Roman 13.

The problem with qualifying any part of the scriptures is it invites analyses and second guessing, based on our values which are subjective by definition. When that happens it becomes a free for all and you might as well throw away the bible. On the other hand, you have references such as Acts 5:29 in which Peter clearly qualifies Romans 13. Is that the answer then? I guess it must be. You can and must only submit to the authority of a government which has not clearly violated God’s standards. Peter himself has echoed Paul’s advice – see 1 Peter 2:17. Yet Peter in Acts 5:29 clearly said obedience to God must take precedence.

 I have made numerous entries on my feelings on the deeds (or more accurately, misdeeds) of the rulers of Malaysia. I don’t know they are clear violations against God’s laws – I suspect so but have not clearly pinned it down. I have not openly rebelled against any particular law of Malaysia. I have merely spoken up against many of its policies and practices. I guess instead of staying and chancing deterioration and prospects of actually violating Romans 13, I opted instead to avoid the issue. I simply thought it wasn’t worth it. Maybe it isn’t the issue of not being law abiding citizens so much as an issue of opting out of an unsatisfactory regime