Being a Christian today is increasingly putting us at odds with political positions. Just being an obedient Christian is increasingly becoming a social, political, legal issue. The aim of these eight points is to answer the biblical-theological-ethical question: How shall we obey God’s command to honor the king — or the president, or the governor — when they do not “punish those who do evil and praise those who do good”?
How can we as pro-life Christians honor President Barack Obama when he supports the right to kill unborn children for any reason up through the age of viability?
1. Humble ourselves.
We will honor you, Mr. President, by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6) and acknowledging that we are ourselves sinners and in need of mercy and forgiveness from God. We are not infallible. We are open to new light on this and every issue. We are not the final judge in this matter. God is. We stand before the cross of Christ on level ground with you, not above you, utterly dependent on mercy and seeking to live by the will of Christ.
2. Acknowledge God’s image, wherever we find it.
We honor you by acknowledging that you are a man created in the image of God, and distinct among all the beings in the world (as it says in James 3:9). You are not a mere animal. You have the glorious potential, like all humans, of being a child of God (if you aren't already) and shining like the sun in the kingdom of God forever and ever. We honor you as an utterly unique, human being created in the image and likeness of the living God with untold potential.
3. Acknowledge the institutions God has established.
We will honor you by acknowledging that government is God's institution. He wills that there be leaders like presidents and governors. You are in power by God's appointment and we honor that. In Romans 13:4 the Bible even calls you, “God's servant for our good.”
It grieves us that you do not intend to enact laws to protect the good of the unborn the most innocent, weak, and helpless group of Americans. But we have seen from Somalia that bad government is better than no government. The absence of some laws to protect some people is better than the absence of all laws to protect anybody. We honor your stabilizing role in this sense as a blessing from God.
4. Honor laws not conflicting with Christ’s lordship.
We will honor you by submitting to the laws of the state and the nation wherever they do not conflict with our higher allegiance to Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords.
We submit to the right of government to limit our right to choose in hundreds of areas (speed limits, taxes, smoking, and more), especially when the good of others is at stake. We understand that governments exist to limit the right to choose and we submit to that.
1 Peter 2:13 says that we are to submit not for your sake, but for the Lord's sake. Verse 16 says that we are free in respect to you but slaves of God. We will submit not because you have power, but because our King commands it for the honor of his institution of civil government. Yet our submission is an honor to you because under God and from God you bear the authority to enforce the laws of the land.
5. Resist withdrawing into isolation.
We will honor you by not withdrawing into little communes of disengaged isolation from American culture. But according to 1 Peter 2:15, we will honor you by trying to do as much good as we possibly can for the unborn, and for unwanted children, and for women in distress, so that we will not be thought insolent or inconsistent in asking from you what we are not willing to do ourselves. We do this because the Bible says, "It is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).
6. Oppose injustice and unrighteousness with non-violence.
We will honor you by opposing your position as long as we can with non-violence instead of violence, with reasoning instead of rocks, with rational passion instead of screaming, with honorable speech instead of obscenities, with forthright clarity of language instead of dodging the tough realities and tough words, with evidence instead of authority, and with scientific portrayals of life instead of authoritarian blackouts (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2). We will honor you by a relentless effort to put truth, and not mere emotion, before you in the White House.
7. Expect straightforward answers from leaders.
And we will honor you by expecting from you straightforward answers to straightforward questions. We would not expect this from a con-man, but we do expect it from an honorable man. For example,
Are you willing to explain why a baby’s right not to be killed is less important than a woman’s right not to be pregnant?
Or are you willing to explain why most cities have laws forbidding cruelty to animals, but you oppose laws forbidding cruelty to human fetuses? Are they not at least living animals?
Or are you willing to explain why the government is unwilling to take away the so-called right to abortion on demand even though it harms the unborn child; yet government is increasingly willing to take away the right to smoke, precisely because it harms innocent non-smokers?
Perhaps you have good answers to each of these questions. We will honor you by expecting you to defend your position forthrightly in the public eye. You have immense power as President of the United States. To wield it against the protection of the unborn without giving a public accounting in view of moral and scientific reality would be dishonorable. We will honor you by expecting better.
8. Trust the sovereign, loving purpose of God.
Finally we will honor you by trusting that the purpose of our sovereign and loving God to defend the fatherless and contend for the defenseless and to exalt the meek will triumph through your presidency. And to that end we will pray for you as Christ our King commands us.
Look at the Book is an online method of teaching the Bible. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear John Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it.
In this three-part series through 1 Peter 2:13–17, John studies these five verses with two purposes: 1. learn how to live as Christians under the authority of a non-Christian government and 2. uncover important principles for personal Bible reading.
Christians live in and are citizens of some nation on earth, under some government, but their final authority is in heaven. So what did God intend for human governments to do? And how should we respond as believers in Jesus? In this lab, John Piper explains how to live as exiles and refugees.
Part 2: Obey as People Who Are Free
How do servants of the King live and serve in a world with kings? In this lab, John Piper reveals the wonder of Christian freedom and the witness of being subject to human authorities. To help, he draws in an encounter Jesus and his disciples had with tax collectors.
Part 3: Fear God, Not the Government
What does freedom in Christ look like in subjection to a human government? In this lab, John Piper explains five key principles. He touches on our attitude toward one another, toward hardened criminals, and to ungodly government rulers. He ends with Jesus being confronted by Pilate as one paradigm for all believers.