Now that I’ve laid out the logic behind the notion that certain elected positions have authority over citizens, I’m going to present arguments against it in this morning’s post. My thesis today is where I marry a biblical perspective with a legal and technical one. Unfortunately, like many things in life it may confound the reader wetting the appetite for further clarification. But that’s life, where some things cannot be wrapped up with a tidy bow.
The apostle Paul was directly talking about Rome and it’s government to new Christians after Christ’s return to His Father’s kingdom. In the book of Romans he could not have known what a democratic, modern America would represent in contrast to what he was illustrating to those suffering under a cruel regime. Therefore, it is tenuous to link the authority of Roman cesars, tax collectors to modern day, American public servants. In those times rulers made themselves authoritative where there was no vote and accountability to the general population. They truly had authority over citizens. Paul also mentions slavery and how in the name of Christ, it is a testament to Christ to remain in humble submission as slaves if Israel or gentile found themselve in that position. Clearly, now in America that type of activity is grossly immoral, illegal and illegitimate. Giving a debate that what Paul is illustrating makes an argument for modern day ‘public servant authority’ illegitimate as well.
If you subscribe to the perception that any office holder has authority over a citizen, then you’d have to consider ultra wealthy mega donors and the dark money that purchases legislators, legislations and at times presidents. I call this the ‘Peter Thiel’ effect. Since oligarchs such as those involved in the Federalist Society, tell legislators to jump and legislators ask how high? You can make a dispute that individuals and groups such as these have authority over citizens. Sound disconcerting? Well, from this line of reasoning this is what some evangelicals are stating without realizing it; in a ‘slippy slope’ type of logic.
For those of us who grew up in the nineties there was that banal, aggrevating cartoon called ‘Southpark.’ If you remember, there was a character all the other characters would laugh at called Eric Cartman. Cartman would walk around stating: “don’t question my altaretay” (my authority). With a speech empediment he was a laughing stock, both on and off the show. In the 2000’s it was not uncommon to see memes of Cartman with the words: ‘don’t question my authority.’ You’d hear people on the radio and on the street doing impressions of Eric Cartman to make friends laugh. These days a crystalized mantra of humanity with that prideful flaw of costantly seeking significance we often don’t deserve.
Tomorrow I discuss how the church should view the dynamic. I look forward to seeing you then!