Was Martin Luther King Jr. wrong in 1963 when he disobeyed the law and was put in prison in Alabama? When some religious leaders disagreed with his activism, King penned a letter from jail:
“…One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘”an unjust law is no law at all.”‘ “Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God…”
Are there any guidelines for when a Christian is allowed or even required to oppose an unjust law or ruler?
It should be emphasized that being faithful to the Bible and living by its standards might require us to endure civil punishment, as Kentucky clerk Kim Davis recently learned. Please know that we are absolutely not comparing her to Martin Luther King Jr. The reason however, for their refusal to obey what they considered an unjust law was and is a moral reason.
Tuesday’s guest on Stand Up for the Truth (9 AM – 10 AM CST, Monday – Friday) is Robert Meyer, a columnist for RenewAmerica.
Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to process marriage license applications for same-sex couples, offers a poignant segue into the issue of whether civil disobedience is an appropriate response for professing Christians.
Some folks would rather sojourn down the rabbit trails of peripheral issues, such as pointing out that Davis is hypocritical in her stance because she has had several divorces. While her past may not make her the perfect poster child for one “standing on principle,” it would matter to me whether the improprieties occurred before or after her Christian conversion – an important distinction that would make little difference to her critics.
Recently a secularist quoted a familiar biblical passage (Romans 13: 1-3) as “proof” that resistance against the civil authority is hypocritical.