Thursday, June 11, 2009

Romans 13

You should be good. You should obey the law – both God’s and man’s where they do not conflict. I think that is clear and undeniable. I don’t quite know how this line works, though (v.3):
Those who do right do not have to fear the rulers; only those who do wrong fear them. Do you want to be unafraid of the rulers? Then do what is right, and they will praise you.

Obviously, people who obey the rulers are sometimes punished, and innocent people sometimes take great suffering at the hands of unjust rulers. I suppose I could make the argument that you don’t need to fear the rulers because no matter what they do to you, God will ultimately deliver you and reward you for your suffering (although maybe only in death.) I can’t get behind the “they will praise you,” part. NAS translates it this way:
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;

I’m still not sure how that works. Although this one is a little vague about who “authority” refers to, it still seems to me that they are talking about earthly rulers.
I also need to address verse 13:
Let us live in a right way, like people who belong to the day. We should not have wild parties or get drunk. There should be no sexual sins of any kind, no fighting or jealousy.

“Belong to the day” is continuing a metaphor of “Day” as the time of Christ’s rule on earth versus our present age, “night,” in which Satan has his own influence here.
Don’t have wild parties or get drunk, etc. This is really easy for me to check off as a married mother of pre-school aged children who is excited to get to bed by 9 p.m. I don’t think I would have found it so easy to swallow at another time in my life, though, so I have to question, “Am I ‘good’ because I have set my life up in ways that prevent ‘badness,’ or is there truly a desire to honor God this way in my heart?” Does it matter? If I am someone who loves God in a way that causes right behavior to flow naturally into my actions, am I better off than someone who loves God in a way that I seek to discipline my life to suit Him despite my contrary nature?