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Inspired by this question, I'm left wondering how Christians ought to respond to laws that are unjust, but not overtly immoral.

I think most of us will agree that Christians ought to disregard laws that mandate immorality, or that prohibit morality. The cliche examples of the first would be laws requiring turning over Jews to the Nazis to be murdered, or turning over protestants to Catholics to be burned as heretics, etc. And examples of the latter would be laws prohibiting Christian worship.

But what about laws that are viewed as clearly unjust, but don't overtly require immorality or prohibit morality?

Laws such as the one mentioned here that forbade blacks in Pennsylvania from marrying from 1870 until 1973 when the law was changed. Or racial segregation laws like those challenged by Rosa Parks. For a Christian, is civil disobedience an appropriate response to these types of laws?


EDIT

To be clear, I am asking about laws that neither mandate immoral behavior, nor prohibit behavior required by the Bible. In my two examples: A black person remaining single (and celibate) is not immoral, nor does the Bible require anyone (black or otherwise) to marry. Also, it is not immoral for a black person to sit in the back of a bus, nor does the Bible require anyone (black or otherwise) to sit in the front of a bus. So it is quite possible to adhere by both of these laws without violating any Christian principle--and indeed many Christians to this day do live in (unwitting) compliance with both of these laws. Many black Christians in Pennsylvania never marry, and many black Christians ride in the backs of buses.

My phrasing in the title is not intended to imply that I think "unjust" laws are "moral."

A law that prohibits Christianity does not fall into the scope of this question, since the Bible requires that of us. Nor would a law that requires someone to kill or torture another person, since that is prohibited by the Bible.

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<removed obsolete comments> Question has been clarified. –  Caleb Sep 30 '11 at 8:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The idea that a law can be 'unjust but not immoral' is entirely foreign to Christianity. Anyone who has read significantly in the Old Testament prophets (see here) realizes that injustice is something that God condemns very strongly, and the people of Israel are frequently admonished for failing to deliver justice (Isaiah 10:2, Ezekiel 22:29, Amos 2:7 and literally hundreds more). Jesus picks up on this theme (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42). Something that God condemns in such strong terms is 'immoral' by definition, and a sin.

The difference between "immoral" and "overtly immoral" doesn't help. One of the things Jesus most strongly condemned was hypocrisy - being "overtly moral" while "covertly immoral". Following Jesus' example, exposing the "covertly immoral" is something his followers should do. Opposing injustice is something any follower of God should have high on their agenda.

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+1 I really like the light this sheds on the issue. –  Flimzy Sep 15 '11 at 17:06

Like you said yourself, the fact of the matter is if the law is just unjust but not immoral.

The Bible and Christianity rarely touches on this subject. I believe that it is up to the person, but as a good Christian you are, or by at least my definition, and way of life required to be good and just. However, if it is against the law you should do what is in your power to help, but that would be up the individual person. I don't think Christianity defines this exact sort of question, but in the end it would be your duty as a good person to do what is in your power to help or to prevent an unjust act from happening.

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its 5 minutes. @DJC Also if you want to change your vote you can edit the question and then you are able to do so. Please don't make a habit of this. –  wax eagle Sep 15 '11 at 17:04
    
I don't really want to edit someone else's answer just to change my vote. –  DJClayworth Sep 15 '11 at 17:10

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