Yes, government is good and restrains evil
By Scott Tibbs, March 7, 2022
When the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13 that the government is "the minister of God to thee for good," he wrote that while the pagan Roman Empire ruled over an enormous swath of land with an iron fist. Rome was known for its vicious brutality and was especially cruel to Christians. Christians today who dismiss Romans 13 because of government's excessive rules regarding COVID-19 are completely missing the historical context of the Apostle Paul's admonition to us.
Yes, the men who run government can be wicked. There are more examples than one can count. Governments throughout history have committed genocide. Governments have persecuted religious, ethnic or racial minorities. Governments have stripped freedom in the name of "safety," and government officials have used their power in corrupt ways to fleece their citizens and enrich themselves.
But even the most wicked governments have done good things. In even the regimes where the government is most wicked, murder is illegal. Rape is illegal. Stealing is illegal. Fraud is illegal. The laws in place restrain the sins in man's depraved heart. Furthermore, government provides a court system to resolve disputes, picks up our trash, builds and maintains roads so we can travel, provides a Fire Department to protect our lives and property, and secures our borders against foreign invaders. Is any of this done perfectly? No. Does government often fail in these duties? Yes! But that does not disprove the basic facts.
None of this means we should excuse or overlook evil things done by the state, the oppression of the weak or the hypocrisy of the powerful. It does not mean that we should blindly obey every unjust law - especially when the law demands we disobey the commands of Scripture. None of this means we should not seek to hold corrupt magistrates accountable or speak or preach against injustice.
But we do need to reform our own hearts and submit to the clear teaching of Scripture. Christians in the West today have it much better than Christians in the Roman Empire. The default orientation of our heart should be one of respect and submission, because it was God who granted the authority to the civil magistrate in the first place. By respecting His ministers, we respect Him.
About the Author