Biblical Obedience May Require Civil Disobedience

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it; he is obligated to do so.”

Without question, it was this principle that a coalition of religious leaders had in mind, when 16 days in advance of the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision, they stated in a Washington Post advertisement that they would not abide by a ruling that gives homosexuals a constitutional right to marriage.

The ad, which covered a full page, featured ”key signers” such as David and Jason Benham, Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell, Alveda King, former Speaker of the U.S. House, Tom Delay, Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk, Bishop E.W. Jackson, Bishop Harry Jackson, former Ambassador Alan Keyes, Penny Nance of Concerned Women of America, Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel, Rick Scarborough of Vision America and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. These great Christian leaders unequivocally stated:

“We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.” [1]

On the same day the egregious ruling came down from the High Court, the Rev. Franklin Graham expressed in an interview with “Fox and Friends Weekend,” that he was concerned that serious bouts with persecution were imminent for Christians in the United States.

“I believe we are going to see persecution in this country. We’ve already seen many laws that have been passed that restrict our freedoms as Christians. I believe it’s going to get worse…We do have a problem in this country and we are losing our religious freedom and we’re losing it a little bit day by day,” Graham said. [2]

Graham said part of the solution is for Christians to get involved in politics. He said that some Christians need to run for office.

During the Oklahoma State Evangelism Conference in January, the son of the renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, opined:

“Who says we can’t be in politics? The gays and lesbians are in politics. I can tell you that. All the anti-God people are in politics. They’re there. Why shouldn’t the church be there? Who says we can’t speak up? Get involved.” [3]

Yet some Christians are still quite dismissive of political involvement, arguing it’s futile trying to improve government when the Scriptures foretell persecution is inevitable for believers in the last days that we’re living. They essentially contend we should expect world governments to get more and more anti-Christian. It’s a view more pervasive than realized. If it’s not outwardly stated, subconsciously it’s in the mind of many Christians, anesthetizing, and even paralyzing them into inaction.

In his book, Politics: According to the Bible, Wayne Grudem addresses the dilemma this way of thinking presents for Christian activism, quite eloquently. He correctly argues from Scripture that no one can possibly know the time when Christ will return or when the events preceding the Lord’s coming will occur.

Grudem writes,

“What we do know is that while we have opportunity, God tells us not to give up preaching ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27) and doing ‘good works’ (Eph. 2:10) and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). That means we should go on trying to influence governments for good as long as we are able to do so.” [4]

He continues,

“If all the Christians who influenced governments for good in previous centuries had just given up and said, ‘Persecution is coming and governments will become more evil, or there is nothing we can do,’ then none of those good changes in laws would have come about. There would still be human sacrifice and burning widows alive and slavery and racial discrimination protected by law. That mentality would have been a defeatist, fatalistic attitude, and it would have led Christians to disobey many of God’s commands for how we are to live our lives during the present age. Instead of giving in to such a hopeless attitude, courageous Christians in previous generations sought to do good for others and for governments, and God often blessed their efforts.” [5]

Todd Starnes with Fox Nation recently wrote,

“The Supreme Court’s decision means gay rights now trump religious liberty. And if you think the cultural purging of the Southern States has been breathtaking, wait until you see what LGBT activists are about to unleash on American Christians.” [6]

Starnes’ and Graham’s warning, the pledge to disobey the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage by dozens of national religious leaders, are neither a hyperbolic response or a form of paranoia, but instead an honest assessment of the kind of treatment many Christians can anticipate as a result of the ruling by 5 rogue judges.

One only needs to look north to Canada where gay marriage has been legal since 2005 and see that there have already been hundreds of legal proceedings against the critics and opponents of same-sex marriage. Churches in Canada have come under attack. The same is true for followers of Christ in some other countries where sexual freedom has supplanted religious freedom. Moreover, we’re beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in states where same-sex marriage was legal before the SCOTUS ruling – bakers, florists, photographers and innkeepers legally punished for not participating in same sex ceremonies.

Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, recently announced his organization’s commitment to “aggressively” combat any state or federal legislation, or court rulings that would seek to protect religious objectors to same sex marriage. [7]

Civil disobedience is not something Christians in the United States have ever had to use often. We’ve always been abundantly blessed with religious liberty. Nevertheless, for obvious reasons this is changing and we’re about to learn how to humbly, prayerfully, wisely, nonviolently, and dutifully resist unjust law.

If we’re not willing to do this, then we’re going to lose everything. If we’re not willing to do this, and Christ delays His second coming, then our children and children’s children will not enjoy the blessings of liberty most of us have taken for granted all of our lives. If we are not willing to do this, we’ll miss an unprecedented opportunity our sacrifices and sufferings will provide for advancing the kingdom of God in ways we never dreamed possible.

“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it; he is obligated to do so.”

Dr. Mark H. Creech
Executive Director, Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.


[1] “Religious Coalition Vows Not to Accept Supreme Court Decision in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage.” CNS News. N.p., 10 June 2015. Web. 10 July 2015.

[2], “Franklin Graham Warns Christians in America ‘Persecution Is Coming'” Christian Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 July 2015

[3] Ibid

[4] Grudem, Wayne A. Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. pg. 51

[5] Ibid, pg. 52

[6] Nation, Fox. “Exclusive: Franklin Graham Warns Gay Marriage Ruling Will Lead To Christian Persecution.” N.p., n.d. Web. 10 July 2015.

[7] Smith, Samuel. “Christian Colleges Right to Deny Married Housing for Gay Couples Is ‘on the Edge of the Indefensible,’ Barry Lynn Asserts.” The Christian Post. N.p., 7 July 2015. Web. 10 July 2015.

2 thoughts on “Biblical Obedience May Require Civil Disobedience

  1. I’m confused now. First, in the article from March 24, 2015 published on this website titled “In Support of Dr. Franklin Graham’s Comments!” Dave Kistler reminds me that “”…the over-arching concept presented in Scripture, that submission toward, and obedience to, authority is an obligation, yea a command. That command is repeated numerous times throughout Holy Scripture.”
    Now Dr. Mark Creech is telling me to disobey the Holy Scripture so that I can obey the Holy Scripture.
    Is it true that the Bible is telling me to do contradictory things? Who can clear this up for me please?

    1. The general principle taught in Scripture is submission to human authority. The word used for submission is primarily an attitude word. That is, we are to maintain an attitude of submission to human/governmental authority. However, there are times when Biblical characters disobeyed human authorities, if that human authority’s commands were is conflict with God’s commands! Such an example is Acts 5:29! So, we obey human authority until/unless that human authority asks us to disobey God to obey him/her!
      Dave Kistler

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