Cherry-Picking Scripture for Mindless Allegiance?

Cherry-picking scripture has been a widespread practice through history, and Dr. Robert Jeffress is a poster child for this tendency. He posted Romans 13: 1-2 to emphasize that we should pray for and support government leaders because they were placed in power by God. Another often misused scripture is Ephesians 6: 5-9 that tells how slaves should obey their masters. Usually absent is verse 9, which tells masters how to treat slaves.

Based on the interpretation of the Romans passage by some, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German theologian and pastor, was sinning in resisting Hitler’s authority. I think this passage’s meaning is dependent on the type of governmental leadership we’re talking about.

I support praying for the president’s health because it places all at risk when people in leadership positions are ill. I’ll also say a prayer for the health and security of our nation.

While we’re in chapter 13, verse 3 seems at odds with how rulers treat citizens today. “…for rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”

It appears that those who behave in accordance with the political leadership are commended, regardless of the moral content of that behavior.  Those who act morally, but in conflict with political leadership, are punished and unfairly maligned.

I think verse 7 puts a fine point on all of this, especially if we read all the way through to the end of the sentence. “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

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