Civil Disobedience in an Uncivil Society

For many years, the situation in America provided an environment where Christianity could grow and have influence in society due to the spiritual focus of many early Americans and the appreciation for biblical principles and ethics that the founders considered essential for the republican framework of government based in liberty they called for in the Declaration of Independence and then codified in the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, that situation has changed dramatically in recent years, though Satan sowed the seeds of spiritual discontent long ago. This has created an environment in which those who previously enjoyed at least a respected position as moral people forming the backbone of society have now been challenged to bow at the feet of secularism and submit to the god of immorality. Recent decisions of the Supreme Court and the cultural shift exemplified in Hollywood films and even on ESPN provide more than enough evidence to support this claim. However, we must not allow this change in circumstances to force us to compromise or retreat.

When Mordecai found himself in a foreign land with laws and leaders pushing an agenda hostile to God’s people, he accepted its reality but he did not allow it to become his standard. Rather than bowing to the pressure of a king’s command or to those around him, he refused to bow before Haman, a decision that unsurprisingly angered Haman greatly (Est. 3:1-5). However, since Mordecai explained his civil disobedience on the basis of being a Jew and therefore obeying God rather than man, this simply motivated Haman to attack all of God’s people as a result (Est. 3:6)—a reaction that should make God’s people today take notice. Whether the government is pagan and secular really does not matter. A government (or, more accurately, government officials) hostile to truth, that recognizes the criticisms of personal behavior included in the Word of God or that wishes to convince people that the state or representatives or the state are supreme, will seek to silence God’s people. Today’s society may limit the means somewhat (at least currently), but Haman’s attempt to destroy all Jews differs little from modern efforts to silence voices pointing to the authority of God and His Word (Est. 3:7-11), whether that includes references to the Ten Commandments, prayer, or morality in general. Interestingly, after the new decree became law, the bureaucrats went about their business implementing it, the leaders congratulated themselves in their own wisdom and success, and the common people scratched their heads trying to figure out what the people in government could possibly be thinking (Est. 3:12-15). Sound familiar?

It is amazing how some people act as if the Bible is too old to be relevant. The account of Mordecai refusing to comply with a law based on a religious objection and the resulting persecution that followed could—with just a few alterations—come from today’s headlines. With this in mind, we should commit ourselves to building the same conviction that led Mordecai to refuse to obey a law that conflicted with God’s law. We must prepare ourselves to endure attacks and persecution because of our convictions. And we must strengthen our faith so that whatever may happen, we know that God is with us, He will take care of us, and He is sovereign. Others may not acknowledge this, but our dedication should be so strong that they must acknowledge it in us. Mordecai’s unwavering conviction led the way to the preservation of God’s people, and that is how it always will be. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Lk. 14:35b).

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