“Another highly problematic moral principle is that we should refuse to do something merely because the government orders us to do it.”

"The Biblical world-view is not that of the rebel. Jesus says to carry the pack two miles when compelled to carry it one mile. This is a reference to the Roman law that required occupied peoples to carry packs for a mile for Roman soldiers." - CPost

Related at RNS: Anti-vaxxism is the latest in America’s esoteric religions

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dgszweda's picture

I appreciated this article.  It mentions that Tyranny is a meaty subject.  I am not sure why the Christian community jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of the conservative world to classify what is taking place as Tyranny.  A Tyrant or Tyranny has been typically and traditionally defined as someone who acts as an absolute ruler and who governs or rules in a way that is unrestrained by law.  Despite concerns about Executive Orders and such, we live in a Democratic Republic that is currently functioning as designed.  One that is designed to resist a tyrant or tyrannical state.  Can an Executive Order be pronounced that is outside of these laws?  Yes, but the other two branches of government are in place to keep those in check (the Republic side) and we have a free and fair election mechanism (the Democrat side).  The fact that one branch of the government oversteps its bounds has been the case since its founding, but again there are sufficient checks and balances in place to correct that over step.  The fact that the Executive branch leans liberal, Congress is split between liberal and conservative and the Court leans conservative, further highlights the lack of tyranny.  

We can call the government and/or the mandates all types of things, but I struggle with how we identify it as tyrannical.  It neither follows the definition nor does it reflect the operating characteristics today. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

dgszweda wrote:

I appreciated this article.  It mentions that Tyranny is a meaty subject.  I am not sure why the Christian community jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of the conservative world to classify what is taking place as Tyranny.  A Tyrant or Tyranny has been typically and traditionally defined as someone who acts as an absolute ruler and who governs or rules in a way that is unrestrained by law.  Despite concerns about Executive Orders and such, we live in a Democratic Republic that is currently functioning as designed.  One that is designed to resist a tyrant or tyrannical state.  Can an Executive Order be pronounced that is outside of these laws?  Yes, but the other two branches of government are in place to keep those in check (the Republic side) and we have a free and fair election mechanism (the Democrat side).  The fact that one branch of the government oversteps its bounds has been the case since its founding, but again there are sufficient checks and balances in place to correct that over step.  The fact that the Executive branch leans liberal, Congress is split between liberal and conservative and the Court leans conservative, further highlights the lack of tyranny.  

We can call the government and/or the mandates all types of things, but I struggle with how we identify it as tyrannical.  It neither follows the definition nor does it reflect the operating characteristics today. 

Actually, your definition above for tyranny is the 2nd definition given by the American Heritage Dictionary, not the 1st definition, which is: Unjust or oppressive governmental power.  Merriam Webster is much the same, with your definition the 2nd one, with the first being: cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others.

That said, I also find it hard to define Biden's EOs as tyranny, even when he admits (as he has at least once) that that particular order is probably illegal and not permitted.  That doesn't mean such illegal actions shouldn't be opposed, though opposition is not simply a matter of rising up in rebellion.  However, if "unjust power" or "unfair treatment" can be tyranny, it's at least worth asking the question about exercise of such power.

The problem, of course, is what to do about such abuse of power, especially when even the one giving the orders admits the order might not be proper.  It's not as clear as simply obeying an illegal order until the courts get around to dealing with it.  In fact, the courts have made it abundantly clear in the past that obeying an illegal order is NOT an excuse.  The default Christian position should be submission to governmental authority.  However with illegal/improper orders, what our exact actions should be is not as clear, and at a minimum deserves discussion.  When Paul refused to leave the prison after the magistrates had imprisoned him unjustly, he didn't just submit to their order to leave.  We also will have to exercise wisdom to know the right action in similar circumstances.

Dave Barnhart

dgszweda's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

I appreciated this article.  It mentions that Tyranny is a meaty subject.  I am not sure why the Christian community jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of the conservative world to classify what is taking place as Tyranny.  A Tyrant or Tyranny has been typically and traditionally defined as someone who acts as an absolute ruler and who governs or rules in a way that is unrestrained by law.  Despite concerns about Executive Orders and such, we live in a Democratic Republic that is currently functioning as designed.  One that is designed to resist a tyrant or tyrannical state.  Can an Executive Order be pronounced that is outside of these laws?  Yes, but the other two branches of government are in place to keep those in check (the Republic side) and we have a free and fair election mechanism (the Democrat side).  The fact that one branch of the government oversteps its bounds has been the case since its founding, but again there are sufficient checks and balances in place to correct that over step.  The fact that the Executive branch leans liberal, Congress is split between liberal and conservative and the Court leans conservative, further highlights the lack of tyranny.  

We can call the government and/or the mandates all types of things, but I struggle with how we identify it as tyrannical.  It neither follows the definition nor does it reflect the operating characteristics today. 

 

 

When Paul refused to leave the prison after the magistrates had imprisoned him unjustly, he didn't just submit to their order to leave.  We also will have to exercise wisdom to know the right action in similar circumstances.

There are definitely different definitions for Tyranny, especially based on the circumstances that it is presented in.

We live in a day and age that is very unique to practically all of the history of mankind.  We have so much at our disposal in terms of how to react to government overreaches.  I sometimes think the Christian church is "spoiled" in today's environment.  The fact that the church has key protections enshrined in the Constitution and which would be nearly impossible to see removed within our lifetime (I am not saying erosion may not occur).  Contrast that to the First Century Church.  Given the discourse that the Church is having today on government over reach and the number of articles and divisiveness it has continues, it is shocking that the entire NT was taken up by this subject.  I do agree with you that our default process needs to be submission.

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know that too many people actually would say that they have a moral principle to not do something if the government tells them to do it--that would seem to violate the clear message of Romans 13.  What they would say, however, is that Scripture allows (if not enjoining) them to cordially refuse to obey what they consider to be an illegal order in the same way that Paul refused to simply walk away after the magistrate had beaten them without a trial, in the same way John the Baptist told the soldiers to be content with their pay, and in the same way that the Prophets rebuked the kings of Israel when they transgressed God's law.

In the case of the EOs for vaccines, it's a case where a lot of people are suffering because the safeguards in our Constitutional system are not preventing mischief because the simple case load in the courts is so high, the cases cannot advance quickly.  The laws creating and operating OSHA do not clearly give this power to the President, nor does the Constitution seem to grant it.  

And really, I had to smile when you claimed that the system was working as designed--my personal guess is that if the Founders were told that taxation in our country was approaching 50%, they'd ask what on earth happened to the Constitution they put together.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

And really, I had to smile when you claimed that the system was working as designed--my personal guess is that if the Founders were told that taxation in our country was approaching 50%, they'd ask what on earth happened to the Constitution they put together.

Republicans like to claim taxation is high.  The issue is not taxation, it is spending.  And all parties are grossly negligent in their spending since Ronald Regan, except for Clinton who did an admirable job at creating an overall surplus and driving down the national debt.

Besides the system was not designed to prevent taxation.  It was meant to create representation.  And the American public craves stimulus checks and the Republicans crave wars and the Democrats crave social projects.  But that is the Constitution that was put together.  It doesn't say anything about having a balanced budget or a certain tax amount.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Yes, but the other two branches of government are in place to keep those in check (the Republic side) and we have a free and fair election mechanism (the Democrat side).  The fact that one branch of the government oversteps its bounds has been the case since its founding, but again there are sufficient checks and balances in place to correct that over step.  The fact that the Executive branch leans liberal, Congress is split between liberal and conservative and the Court leans conservative, further highlights the lack of tyranny.  

We can call the government and/or the mandates all types of things, but I struggle with how we identify it as tyrannical.  It neither follows the definition nor does it reflect the operating characteristics today.

What happens is we lose perspective. Having never lived under tyranny, we think it's happening whenever somebody in authority does something we don't like or that seems, ir is, excessive. But by any definition, tyranny is still mitigated a great deal in our system, and we need to appreciate that for the blessing it is.

For example, Biden's vaccine mandate may very well go down in SCOTUS. But even if it doesn't, the order got examined, weighed, criticized.

Most days, I think the political right has a bad case of childishness. Kids see parental authority as unfairly oppressive when they don't get to stay up late or eat vast amounts of candy, but they think this authority is great when a parent is telling a sibling to stop being so noisy or stop staring or stop humming the same tune over and over on a road trip. The criteria for evaluation are mostly personal feelings.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dgszweda's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

For example, Biden's vaccine mandate may very well go down in SCOTUS. But even if it doesn't, the order got examined, weighed, criticized.

This is the way that I see it.  All of the branches practice over reach in certain areas.  It is natural.  Part of that over reach is a result of vagueness in the system.  There are some elements of the Vaccine Mandate that are aligned to law and some elements of it that are novel.  What is nice about our system is that even though Biden issues an order for OSHA to create a mandate, we have significant levels of check and balances before it even affects us.  Of course, the right in this instance, has to create a scary monster.  If there is no scary monster, than there is no need to increase their ratings and thus increase their revenues.  (And both sides do this, so it is not unique to the right).  At the end of the day, there is no scary monster.  Individuals and companies have the right to challenge the mandate in court.  That has in affect, stopped the mandate from being issued until the courts evaluate it.  They will evaluate the legality of it.  And yes it may make it up to SCOTUS to not only evaluate the legality of it, but the Constitutionality of it.  And it may end there.  But the beauty of our system is that even if SCOTUS rules it unconstitutional, the Legislative branch, with enough support and fortitude, could over rule SCOTUS, by enshrining it in law, or even further, changing the Constitution.  And if the legislative branch is unwilling or unable to do that, we have a free and fair election every 2 years for the people of the US to elect individuals that reflect our beliefs and wills.  Each step along this path is a stronger set of checks and balances.  I struggle to see any element of tyranny being displayed in our system.  Now, there is a ton of laziness.  The legislative branch has deferred its responsibilities to the Executive branch and allowed the Executive branch to enact its will through executive orders, but that right hasn't been taken away, it has been given for the sake of ease.

Bert Perry's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

 

And really, I had to smile when you claimed that the system was working as designed--my personal guess is that if the Founders were told that taxation in our country was approaching 50%, they'd ask what on earth happened to the Constitution they put together.

 

 

Republicans like to claim taxation is high.  The issue is not taxation, it is spending.  And all parties are grossly negligent in their spending since Ronald Regan, except for Clinton who did an admirable job at creating an overall surplus and driving down the national debt.

Besides the system was not designed to prevent taxation.  It was meant to create representation.  And the American public craves stimulus checks and the Republicans crave wars and the Democrats crave social projects.  But that is the Constitution that was put together.  It doesn't say anything about having a balanced budget or a certain tax amount.

The Boston Tea Party and a great part of the Revolution was over a 2% tax, David.  A great portion of the impetus for the Civil War was a 45% tariff imposed only on imported goods, and the tax that provoked the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 was six to nine cents per gallon at a time when whiskey wholesaled for (Mt. Vernon whiskey as example) about 70 cents per gallon.

Yes, spending drives taxes, but let's not forget that previous tolerance for taxes appears to have been much lower.  We might add, to be fair, that previous tolerance for spending was much lower.  That would also be part of the theme "What on earth did our descendants do with the Constitution we gave them?", and it's reflected in both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, as well as a quip by Ben Franklin about the nature of the new Constitution--that they'd given "a republic, if you can keep it."

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.