Questions tagged [civil-government]

For questions about the government's authority, how Christians should interact with secular governments, the relationship between Church and state, and the relationship between Christianity and secular laws.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
27
votes
7answers
5k views

Are Christians bound to the laws of their country? [closed]

Clearly not all governments are based on Christian principles. Should Christians be bound to obey the civil laws of their respective countries (states, cities, whatever) even if they disagree with the ...
23
votes
4answers
18k views

Biblical basis for the separation of church and state

I know there are a lot of non-biblical arguments for the separation of church and state. Some Christians also support it on biblical grounds, but I've never looked into the matter myself. Which ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

Swear to tell the truth 'so help me God'?

I know that in court if you don't believe in God you are allowed to simply give an "Affirmation" instead of an Oath. But what I want to know is why any Christian would swear an Oath to tell the truth "...
18
votes
7answers
33k views

What crime was committed by the “thieves” crucified with Jesus?

During yesterday's sermon, the pastor mentioned the theory that the thieves crucified next to Jesus likely weren't simple thieves to warrant such a sentence, but were probably "thieves with a cause." ...
15
votes
3answers
769 views

How should Christians participate in a democracy? [closed]

There is currently a debate in my country, Australia, about gay marriage. Amongst those who believe homosexual sex is wrong, there is a split with regards the correct approach. Some say that ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Who was the first Church Father to argue for executing heretics?

When was it first said in Christianity by a church leader that heretics must be put to death? Who came up with this idea and presented it?
14
votes
5answers
17k views

What do Quakers believe about war and serving in the military?

It seems that I once heard that Quakers are pacifists, but I'm not sure if that's just a rumor or not. What is the Quaker doctrine regarding war and killing people as a soldier in the military? If ...
14
votes
8answers
3k views

Is there any biblical support for copyright law? [closed]

There are people and organisations that state that copyright is wrong, and that copyright law should be deprecated. I think the same way but as a Christian I want to be sure that such thought is not ...
14
votes
1answer
552 views

Distributism and Subsidiarity beyond the counsel of Jethro in the Bible

In chapter 18 of Exodus, Moses' father-in-law Jethro instructs him on how to set up a fairly ordered society where Moses doesn't have to burn himself out by answering everyone's questions all the time....
12
votes
4answers
65k views

Why do Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to pledge allegiance or salute the flag?

I have heard that Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (to the United States flag) or even to salute it. What is the basis for this prohibition? I'm wondering what ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Should Christians uphold unjust laws that are not overtly immoral? [closed]

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
189 views

What is an overview of how Christian commentators have explained rulers to be a terror to bad conduct?

Paul writes in Romans 13: For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. (Romans 13:3a ESV) If we interpret it as referring to all rulers at all times this statement does not seem to ...
12
votes
1answer
324 views

Was Augustine opposed to the death penalty?

In Henry Chadwick's translation of the Confessions, I find him making a surprising claim: Like most of the Church Fathers, Augustine was against capital punishment. (page 21) The context is ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

How is the amazement of the Jews explained by those who believe that “Render Unto Caesar” affirmed the paying of taxes?

In Matthew 22:15–22, Luke 20:20–26, and Mark 12:13–17, the question "is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?" is perceived as a "trap" by both Jesus and the Pharisees who are putting the question forth. ...
11
votes
2answers
645 views

What is the Catholic Church's historical position on capital punishment: how did we get here?

It's big news in the internet today. Pope Francis declares death penalty unacceptable in all cases. The Pope made specific changes to the catechism reflecting this. From the New York Times: ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What is an overview of early church opposition to authorities?

What is an overview of early church father expressions of opposition against authorities? I'm looking for things like: Protests against state-/government-sponsored injustice Arguments against the ...
11
votes
2answers
346 views

What are the current views of the Catholic Church on the right to secession?

I’ve recently heard an interesting opinion that no entity has moral right to exercise authority upon any social group that is unwilling to remain under this authority (excluding inmates). Therefore, ...
10
votes
2answers
354 views

What is the biblical basis for the freedom of religion?

Christianity generally believes in the exclusivity of believers in Jesus the Christ. John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the theological background to the belief that taxation is theft?

Within American evangelicalism a debate has recently been reignited on economic policy, and I've been astonished at the number of people saying that some or all taxation should be considered to be ...
10
votes
3answers
15k views

Under what circumstances is disobeying a bad law justified or even obligatory? [closed]

Civil Disobedience Justified There is a Biblical precedent for civil disobedience. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's refused to worship an idol in Daniel 3. The Israelites' openly rebelled against ...
10
votes
3answers
600 views

According to Two Kingdom theology, could a man hold both secular and spiritual office?

The so called Two Kingdom view of the separate institutes of secular state vs the church identifies a fairly clear boundary between the authority of each: one demanding some compliance with a nominal ...
10
votes
2answers
305 views

Why did the Western and Eastern churches react to their respective states so differently?

In Church History in Plain Language, Bruce Shelley points out a key distinction between Western and Eastern Christianity: how each has related to the State through history. Ambrose had hit upon the ...
9
votes
2answers
268 views

What is an overview of different stances on whether and why it is a sin to pay taxes?

Assuming your government participates in immoral wars that are unjust according to your personal beliefs and religious doctrine (for example Christian just war theory), what do Christian groups ...
9
votes
2answers
681 views

What were the Jehovah's Witness arguments against doing the Nazi salute?

For this question I am looking for answers from Jehovah's Witnesses, if possible. In this YouTube video ("The Schoolgirl The Nazis and The Purple Triangles") this lady Simone Arnold talks about how ...
9
votes
3answers
8k views

What is the spiritual significance of swearing on a Bible among the various churches and denominations? [closed]

When someone is deposed in court, they are asked to swear on a Bible. My premise is that the use of a printed Bible in this instance is derived from a pagan ritual or rituals, rather than a practice ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

How does the relationship of the Church of Scotland to the state differ from that of the Church of England?

Both England and Scotland have "state churches", but what exactly does that mean? How did these special relationships between a church entity and a sovereign state come about and how specifically do ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Are Jehovah's Witnesses particularly anti-violence?

One of the things I've heard about Jehovah's Witnesses is that they've been persecuted by governments for their pacifism: They do not work in industries associated with the military, do not serve ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Did Jesus teach separation of church and state? [closed]

Related: Biblical basis for the separation of church and state In @Richard's answer on the provided link, he mentioned Mark 12:17 as foundation for Christ teaching separation of church and state. I ...
9
votes
2answers
838 views

Does the Roman Catholic church consider HIPAA to be an unjust law?

HIPAA, the United States Health Care Privacy Law has been in effect for nearly two decades. It's the law that makes people all nervous about talking about other people's well being with their doctors ...
9
votes
2answers
632 views

Do Catholics psychologists have a moral obligation to treat homosexuality as a perversion?

I was reading today about the Governor of New Jersey acting to ban "Gay Conversion Therapy", and wanted to know if this is just one more thing that Catholics would have a moral obligation to oppose. ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Does a Christian have a responsibility to participate in government?

I have heard it said many times that it is the responsibility of Christian to participate in their government, specifically that every Christian has the responsibility to vote. Is there some biblical ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Would a JW be disfellowshipped if they join a military (and are unrepentant about it)?

On my reading of a Anton Gill's 1989 book "The journey back from hell", he speaks briefly about JWs in the concentration camps. According to Gill, one of the issues the Nazis had with this group was ...
8
votes
2answers
323 views

Did Pope Francis declare that according to the teaching of the Catholic Church capital punishment is intrinsically evil?

The Internet is full of news that Pope Francis has amended the Catechism of the Catholic Church to forbid capital punishment under all circumstances. One thing remains unclear for me, however: Did ...
8
votes
2answers
392 views

Is there any historical record of Elizabeth the First's reaction to John Knox's tract on 'the monstruous regimen'?

In his tract The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstruous Regimen of Women (see note below about the wording) John Knox appears to be extending Paul's proscription - regarding the place of ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

According to Roman Catholicism, is it a sin to vote for pro-choice politicians?

Let's not make this a debate about pro-life and pro-choice views of abortion. According to Roman Catholic teaching, would it be a sin if I voted for a pro-choice politician such as Bernie Sanders?
7
votes
5answers
593 views

Is there a concept of Christian State in Christianity? [closed]

In some of my other questions, I have read that State and church are kept separate in Christianity. I am curious to know, is there any concept of Christian state where Biblical laws and doctrines are ...
7
votes
2answers
280 views

How does the trial of Jesus compare to the judicial standards of the epoch and of the modern times?

I wonder whether Jesus was given enough opportunities to defend himself, whether his trial was fair and whether the investigation was thorough. I want to know how it compares with typical criminal, ...
7
votes
2answers
972 views

Did Rahab sin by hiding the Hebrew spies and lying to the leaders of Jericho? (Catholic/Protestant overview)

In Joshua 2 we have a classic case of civil disobedience: 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

Why was Esther not sinning when she broke the law and approached the king?

Here's the text in question: Esther 4:15–16 (ESV)15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Why did Ezekiel say that God gave laws to the people that were not good? [closed]

Ezekiel 20:23-25 23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; 24 Because they had not executed my ...
7
votes
1answer
90 views

Does being a “state church” give the Church of Scotland any doctrinal distinctive?

Does it's status as a "state church" have any affect the beliefs or practices of the Church of Scotland? Are there any doctrinal distinctives that make it unique (particularly among Presbyterian ...
7
votes
2answers
466 views

What is the basis for Theonomy?

From Wikipedia, Theonomy, from theos (god) and nomos (law), is the state of being governed by God or in accord with divine law. It's also essentially the view that all types of government ...
7
votes
1answer
206 views

Who first understood the “authorities” in Romans 13 as spiritual, not secular, authorities?

In his forthcoming book, Freedom's Progress, libertarian Gerard Casey describes several different ways of interpreting and applying Romans 13:1–7. One approach in particular I had never encountered ...
7
votes
1answer
189 views

Are there any non-pacifist traditions that object to military chaplaincy?

I'd like to know if there are any non-pacifist Christian traditions or denominations, either historical or contemporary, that object to individual participation in the military as a non-combat ...
7
votes
1answer
237 views

Is life imprisonment in accord with Catholic social doctrine?

I recall hearing an old religious sister talking on Relevant Radio a few years ago about her experience in Mexican prison ministry. She said that life imprisonment is just as bad as the death penalty ...
6
votes
4answers
882 views

Should Christians be against the death penalty? [closed]

Christians go to great lengths to get the government to outlaw abortion--something that I personally would support. Though I see support from Christianity against abortion almost as unwavering, the ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Does the Catholic Church believe prostitution should be legalized?

Aquinas and Augustine seem to put prostitution in the same category as fornication or pre-marital sex: the state should allow fornication and prostitution to exist for the sake of the common good....
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Can Christians be judges?

There is a famous, often (ab)used phrase, "judge not, lest you be judged" , which implies (to me at least) that people on the whole, and Christians in particular, should defer from judging other ...
6
votes
2answers
268 views

What is the basis for ascribing any fiscal policy to Jesus?

In the United States, specifically on the Right, many Republican / Tea-Party, Evangelical Christians have very little problem in ascribing a moral motive for a tight fiscal policy which restricts "...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Did the midwives in Exodus 1 sin by disobeying and lying to Pharaoh? (Catholic/Protestant overview)

In Exodus 1:15–16, the king of Egypt orders the Hebrew midwives to kill the sons born to Hebrew women. However, they do not obey: But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt ...