Hitler’s Favorite Bible Verse
Romans 13 and Obeying the Government
by Laurence M. Vance
I said last year in my article on “Romans 13 and National Defense” that I had been asked many times over the years to write something on Romans 13, that it was something I had thought about a great deal, and that it was something I knew that I must eventually do. Unfortunately, this is still not that article. However, because of questions about Romans 13 that I recently received and answered, I thought I would expand upon my answer here.
First, the text:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)
Christian apologists for the state’s military “defending our freedoms” and its wars “over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” incessantly quote their “obey the powers that be” mantra derived from Romans 13 in an attempt to justify their blind nationalism, American exceptionalism, flag waving, God and country rhetoric, warmongering, prayers for the troops, illicit affection for the military, and unholy desire to legitimize killing in war – as well as justify the state’s imperialism, militarism, and unjust wars.
But even worse than Christian warmongers reciting their “obey the powers that be” mantra, is the chant of “Romans 13” after some statement justifying war or the military:
The war in Iraq was a just war. Romans 13. The troop surge was necessary. Romans 13. Dropping the atomic bombs on Japan was necessary. Romans 13. President Bush did the right thing with the intelligence he had. Romans 13. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Romans 13. Collateral damage happens. Romans 13. The Vietnam War was necessary to fight communism. Romans 13. My country, right or wrong. Romans 13. Soldiers are just following orders. Romans 13. We must fight them “over there” so we don’t have to fight them “over here.” Romans 13. Osama bin Laden needed to be killed. Romans 13. Governments have a God-given right to defend themselves. Romans 13. Waterboarding is not torture. Romans 13. Drone strikes are necessary to protect Americans. Romans 13. Support the troops. Romans 13.