Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Gordan Runyan
Religion columnist 

God's word the standard of justice


June 20, 2018

It’s a rare occurrence: A passage of Scripture was thrust into the national spotlight last week, as spokespersons for the Trump administration broke out Romans 13:1-7 as the moral authority for civil government to carry out the “law.” That word is in quotation marks, because the whole discussion has begged the question, “What law are we talking about?”

What if the law in question is itself unjust? Does Romans 13 mean government should enforce injustice?

This topic is near to my heart. I have mentioned here before, I wrote a book on this passage in 2012. Providentially, I also recorded a podcast on it, days before it became an issue. Search online for the title: “Government’s Blank Check? Romans 13:1-7.”

The issue with Romans 13 this week really is, or ought to be, how can the Christian know whether any particular law is just? We all deal with this constantly. How many times have you and your friends or family heard the news of some particular government action and you all reacted with something like, “Man! That’s messed up. What in the world are they thinking?”

We’ve all done it. But what’s the right way to do it? Is it only about how a particular law happens to strike us at the time?

I suggest we turn to the Bible for the answers. (I know you’re shocked.) For instance, in Deuteronomy 17, there are several instructions meant to govern the actions of Israel’s future kings. When we get to verses 19-20 we find this, in reference to the king’s personal copy of God’s law:

“And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”

The king was not allowed to deviate from the law of God. He wasn’t allowed to turn from it to the left or to the right. He couldn’t be more lenient. He couldn’t be cruel. He had to do what it says. There was no provision for making it up as you go.

Yes, pastor, but that’s Old Testament! True, but the New Testament then makes a startling endorsement. In Hebrews 2:2 we have apostolic confirmation that every penalty inflicted by the older law was just. Not harsh, or barbaric, but just.

I’m not advocating that we take the law of Moses and copy-and-paste it into our Federal Register. But I am saying that we have God’s standard for right and wrong, and for civil justice.

You know full well that half, at least, of what comes out of Washington has nothing to do with justice. You’re correct; but, we need to go to God to find out why.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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