Judaism and Christianity are, at their cores, subversive, anti-government religions. This is strongly reflected in the holy books of these religions, a.k.a. the Bible.
So, I’m going to provide a quick cheat sheet for biblical anarchy – a list of passages that make a clear case: The God of the Bible has nothing to do with the governments of Earth and, in fact, considers them evil.
This list may offend people. But their anger doesn’t make it any less true.
Starting with the Hebrew Scriptures, then moving into the Greek, here are the relevant passages:
In Exodus 1, Hebrew women openly defied the king of Egypt:
And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives… when ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools, if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
You can find other defiance passages in Daniel 3 and 6.
The classic passage on rulership is from 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites, then living in a tribal anarchy, go to Samuel the prophet and request a king. Samuel was displeased by this, but prayed to God anyway. God tells Samuel to warn the people how badly their king will abuse them (He gives him a detailed list) and then tells Samuel:
They have not rejected you, they have rejected me.
Another great story involves King David: God hand-picks this young man and says that he possesses a “heart like God’s own.” After a few years in power, however, he is corrupted and kills one of his soldiers, in order to steal his wife. This is the great example of “power corrupts.” (2 Samuel 11)
Neither Abraham nor Moses gave Israel a king or a government, and they were fully aware that such things were the way of the world. The Hebrews lived in their own land, with no ruler, from perhaps 1400 BC to 1000 BC. Then came the 1 Samuel episode mentioned above and lots of trouble.
What people sometimes fail to grasp about the Hebrew Scriptures is that they initiated a permanently subversive concept: Placing justice above the ruler. That concept alone undercuts every government on Earth.
But, But, But…
Leaving the Hebrew Scriptures, let’s continue by addressing the great refuge for statist Christians, a few verses in the 13th chapter of the letter to the Romans. The passage says:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.
To interpret this as referring to presidents and princes, every one of them would have to “be a terror to evil works” and not to good works. Shall we apply that to Stalin? To Mao? To Pol Pot? To Nero?
If “there is no power but of God,” and if these powers are Earth’s rulers, we have to say that Hitler did good works, and so did Vlad the Impaler. That cannot be honestly argued. (Though it can be blanked-out.)
Was it right for the Christians of Germany and England to kill one another in WW1? Will we really say that God orders his children to destroy each other?
Beyond this, nearly every major figure in the New Testament defied their rulers. For example:
- Jesus refused to answer any of Herod’s questions (Luke 23:9).
- An angel broke Peter out of jail in Acts 12. (And Paul and Silas in Acts 16.)
- In Acts 5, Peter and John defied their rulers and ended up telling them, to their faces, “We should obey God rather than men.”
Now, with that silliness behind us, let’s move on.