Must we obey our government officials?
“Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.” -Romans 13:1-2, NAB
This can be difficult at times. Many like to claim allegiance only to the Law of God and not the law of man. While this is valid, it does not mean that we get to ignore the laws of man. In today’s verse, Paul explicitly teaches us just the opposite. We may not like the laws of man, but we must abide by them.
Already, I know that some have objections. The most valid of those objections is when a law set by man violates the Divine Law. In situations like this, Divine Law always take precedence. In Paul’s time, whlie living under the authority of the Romans, part of their law included the worship of Roman gods. This, of course, went against the Divine Law, and the early Christians could not follow it. This law is pretty straightforward, but what about the more confusing ones?
There are times when the line between morally right and wrong may become a little blurry. It may be difficult to discern if a given law of man goes against Divine Law. One example would be the HHS Mandate. Lines have been drawn. Sides have been taken. From what I’ve seen, despite the USCCB and other Catholic organizations taking a firm stance against it, not all U.S. Catholics stand united. It can be a very sensitive issue, and it can become a stumbling block for us.
When we struggle with issues like this, it is a good idea to look to our spiritual leaders and mentors for advice. Seek out the priests, deacons, and elders at your parish. Ask them honest questions. Start a public forum where we can have an open discussion – instead of an argument. Topics like these are an important of our spiritual journey, and it is imperative that we seek the answers.
I’m not going to lecture anyone on what is right or wrong in a given situation. I struggle with it just as much as anyone else. Whether a law gets national attention like the HHS Mandate, or it is one that we must face alone, we are left as individuals to make choices based on where our conscience, and the Holy Spirit, guides us.
We must strive to follow the higher authorities above us, but when the moral line becomes blurry, we must seek out the Holy Spirit to guide us – to ensure that we follow the Law of God first, and then the laws of man.