As I keep saying over and over again: We are living in unprecedented times. That’s the understatement of the year, by the way. We are seeing our Democratic Republic being transformed before our eyes into a dictatorship in many states across the country. We are seeing our Constitutional Rights being stripped away right before our eyes.
For many of us that are Constitutional Conservatives, we are decrying the attacks against the church, denying our rights to peaceably assemble and practice our religion without governmental interference. We are seeing governors literally banning church in America. I never thought I’d see the day!
I know that I’ve said this so many times, but let me repeat myself: If a law is implemented that violates the Constitution of the United States of America, that law is illegal, invalid and should not be obeyed. If a governor, mayor or any other governmental leader is implementing laws that are unConstitutional, then they are no longer acting with authority… they do not have the authority to break the law.
The government’s authority is limited by the Constitution, and if a particular politician is going outside those bounds, they no longer have authority and we are not required to submit. As Americans, we have a duty to hold our elected officials accountable and to civilly disobey if they become tyrannical… this was the vision for America by our founding fathers. If we want to be good citizens of the USA, then this is how we do that. Remember, the government’s authority is limited in scope.
The same could be said of pastors within the church. The question of the pastor’s authority has been raised quite often. Many within conservative evangelical churches will say that you need to obey your pastor, unless he’s telling you to blatantly sin. This could not be further from the truth.
Giving the pastor too much authority has been a rampant problem in the church. We’ve seen abusive tactics being employed, with unbiblical practices and heavy burdens being place on the shoulders of the congregation. I’m getting flashbacks to the Religious Elite that Jesus confronted in His earthly ministry. Jesus explained it this way, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4)
The Bible tells us to submit to our pastors and elders. Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” This passage is used by so many pastors to force submission to their every whims. The problem with that kind of thinking is that you can’t just take a passage out of context not only of that book of the Bible, but out of the entire context of the Bible, and act like that’s all-encompassing.
You see, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were also supposed to be “keeping watch over your souls.” However, they were not. In fact, they were acting without authority because of the unbiblical heavy burdens they were placing on the shoulders of the Jewish people. Jesus intentionally disobeyed their unbiblical demands, such as their strict Sabbath laws. He challenged their authority and publicly called them out to the masses for going outside the bounds of their authority.
Your pastor does not have the authority to tell you who to marry. Your pastor does not have the authority to tell you what job you should or shouldn’t take. Your pastor does not have the authority to tell you how to raise your children. Your pastor’s authority rests in the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and even that is limited to when he is preaching and teaching accurately. You see, his authority isn’t even his own… the authority lies in God’s Word. They are just explaining it to their congregations.
In the same way that our government officials are limited by the Constitution, our pastors are limited by the Bible. If either the government or your church goes outside their bounds of authority, it’s your job to not submit to their illegal and immoral claim of authority. Be like Jesus and expose them for all to see and civilly disobey. Paul told us in Ephesians 5:1 to “be imitators of God.”
If we are going to imitate Christ, we are going to buck the system and not submit to false claims of authority.