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Our Duty Toward Civil Authorities

It is the duty of every Christian to obey the laws of the land as long as they do not conflict with the law of God. Romans 13:1-7.


"The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws. Those who love God's commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man?"—Testimony for the Church, vol. 1, p. 362.


Christians will respect the authorities (Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13, 14, 17), will pay their taxes faithfully (Matthew 22:17-21; Romans 13:7), and will pray for the men in the government, so that God may bless the country with justice, order, peace, and religious liberty. 1 Timothy 2:1-3.


The Word of God does not allow us to take part in political plans, partisan activities, riots, bloodshed, or war. Luke 9:56; John 18:36; Matthew 26:51, 52; Exodus 20:13; Romans 12:18-21. However, we are prepared to contribute to the welfare of society as conscientious objectors, performing work of national importance under civilian direction, in a manner which is not inconsistent with our beliefs.


It is the will of God that impartial justice be rendered to all, so that the religious conscience of each citizen may be respected. In case we are requested to act contrary to a "Thus saith the Lord," we must follow the example of the servants of God in the past—to obey God rather than man. Daniel 3:14-18; Acts 4:18-20; 5:29.


"The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God's witnesses during the centuries that have past since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word. We are to receive this word as supreme authority. We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God's word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A 'Thus saith the Lord' is not to be set aside for a 'Thus saith the church,' or a 'Thus saith the state.' The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.


"We are not required to defy authorities. Our words, whether spoken or written, should be carefully considered, lest we place ourselves on record as uttering that which would make us appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way. We are to go forward in Christ's name advocating the truths committed to us."—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 68-69.


"It is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. 'I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.' He who has God's law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 361.


"It is our work to magnify and exalt the law of God. The truth of God's holy word is to be made manifest. We are to hold up the Scriptures as the rule of life. In all modesty, in the spirit of grace, and in the love of God we are to point men to the fact that the Lord God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. In the name of the Lord we are to go forward, unfurling His banner, advocating His word. When the authorities command us not to do this work, when they forbid us to proclaim the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, then it will be necessary for us to say as did the apostles: 'Whether it be right in the sight of God to hear ken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we can not but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' Acts 4:19, 20."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 395.


"We acknowledge God and recognize His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and throughout His earthly dominions. His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world, and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in defiance of God's arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ. The church is firmly and decidedly to hold her principles before the whole heavenly universe and the kingdoms of the world; steadfast fidelity in maintaining the honor and sacredness of the law of God will attract the notice and admiration of even the world, and many will, by the good works which they shall behold, be led to glorify our Father in heaven."—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 16-17.