What Does the Bible Say About Anarchy?

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities, For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” – Romans 13.1-2

crowd of protesters
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Defining Anarchism:

At its roots, anarchism is a theory that says that society is improved when people freely rule themselves apart from all laws. It is touted as a worthy ideal by those who reject the necessity of governing authorities. Anarchism described is anarchy. Anarchy is the chaos that erupts at the lack of governmental authority in a society. Examples of anarchy/anarchism are carried out in riots as individuals become their own authority and become a looting and destructive movement.

What incites anarchism? Most in history begin due to poverty, unemployment, inhumane conditions, governmental oppression, taxation or conscription, or racial or religious tensions. Frustrations are vented, sometimes incited, and the disorderly group becomes violent, lashing out in public against authorities, property, and people. In some cases, anarchist riots are incited by certain entities that want to transform their society into their image. In other cases, these riots are disorganized herd groups exhibiting irrational behavior that makes it difficult for police and other security forces to control without some measure of control.

Is Anarchism ever right?

Biblically? No. Our scripture passage above clearly indicates that everyone is to be subjected by governing authorities. To go against this is to go against not only the Word of God but God Himself and will bring condemnation on themselves.

What is at the heart of anarchism?

Self-rule. This is the motivation behind anarchism. It is the idea that I want to be my own god. I do not want anyone else including God Himself telling me what I can or cannot do. Self-rule is a perverted idea that rationalizes that if I shed the shackles of governing laws this equals liberty. It supposes that if we are left alone to rule ourselves we can live more at peace together without any enforcement of rules or laws.

What happens when anarchism rules the day?

The Bible and history are full of examples of what happens when anarchy attempts to become the norm.

  • The fall of man (Genesis 3.1-7). This is when Adam and Eve ignored God’s command (Genesis 2.16-17) and desire to become like God knowing good and evil. The result was sin. The outcome was death, separation, pain, suffering, and removal from the garden and the tree of life, thus begins man’s journey battling against submission to God or seeking self-rule (anarchy).
  • The flood (Genesis 6.5). 2000 years after Adam and Eve were dismissed from the garden of Eden, the desire of man to be free from God’s governing shackles grew. Genesis 6 describes a time in the world when God was sorry that He had made man on the earth and grieved (Genesis 6.6). The reason for this was because “every intent of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (v.5). Thus, God found one righteous man, Noah, and blotted out the rest of humanity and every living thing on the face of the earth with a flood and started over with Noah’s family and the living creatures on the Ark.
  • The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Approximately 700 years after the flood man continued to disobey God’s command. God’s command to Noah and His sons was similar to Adam and Eve, they were to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9.1). Instead of filling the earth, the human race settled in what we know to be modern-day Iraq. There they gathered as one people who sought once again to become greater than God by making a tower marking their name and refusing to be “scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11.4). This was in direct opposition to God’s command. So, the Lord confused their language and the people disperse to all four corners of the earth.
  • The Period of the Judges (Judges 17). During the early part of Israel’s history, God had brought them up out of Egypt as His chosen race and priests. He settled them in Palestine. They were to be a theocracy, a nation of people ruled by God. No king, no governor. It would be a nation that burden by the laws of man, but living freely under the headship and rule of God and His laws. No bureaucracy, no police force, just simple villages and tribes that were to be united under the covenant of God and His people. This seemed like a utopian plan, except that we find that man is never satisfied. In the book of Judges, we learn that “in those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 17.6). This is anarchy. The book of Judges describes seven sin cycles where God’s people disobeyed, were punished, and rescued by God, all because His people wanted what Adam and Eve wanted, to be like God. Eventually, Israel would continue to disobey God until they are overcome by the Assyrians and Babylonians and taken into captivity because of their outright disobedience towards God and His rule over them.

How Christians should respond to present-day anarchism?

If it is never right to adopt anarchism as a way for people to govern themselves, how are Christians today to react, respond, and live among a society that is being incited, encouraged to take matters of law into their own hands?

Look to the Jesus principle

I believe I have mentioned this before in some earlier posts or conversations, but in reading the Old and New Testament I witness a different and righteous response to social injustice that is more peaceable and honoring to God.

  • David could have taken matters into his own hand on a couple occasions when he was being pursued by King Saul. David did not seek revenge or take justice into his own hands but left that up to God (1 Samuel 26.9). David is being advised to strike down Saul, but David knows that doing so would bring upon himself judgment from God and guilt.
  • Joseph was able to see the big picture of God when even though his brothers actions towards him was meant for evil, God meant it for good in order “to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50.20).
  • Daniel trusted in the Lord. Even though he disobeyed the command of the king, his obedience to God was greater than to obey man because it was in direct conflict with the worship of the one true God (Daniel 3, 6).
  • Peter and John chose to obey God rather than man and were arrested for doing so (Acts 5.29).
  • Jesus demonstrates the balance was obeying God verses man. Jesus is asked whether of not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? Jesus knew that those asking the question were attempting to entrap Him. Jesus’ response to them was to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar;s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22.21).

Overall, the Jesus principle teaches us that we should:

  1. Trust God in all matters.
  2. Let God take revenge.
  3. Live peaceable among all.
  4. Obey God over the rule of man.
  5. Expect persecution for principle #4.
  6. Be an execellent citizen of both heaven and earth.
  7. Pray for all men and governing authorities so we may live in peace and dignity.
  8. Submit to God and those in authority over you, as long as it does not cause you to disobey God and His Word.

Concluding thoughts

These are difficult days. But, every generation has had to deal with their problems within their culture. Christians are not immune to this. I believe it is an unrealistic conclusion to expect non-christians to act Biblically, no matter if the laws of the land have/had been rooted in Judeo-ethics. Expecting a portion of our population to abide by God’s law is futile unless God intervenes and changes the hearts and souls of people.

But here is what you can do as written by the prophet Micah:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8).

During these times of crazy headlines and unsettleness, it is upon God’s people to pray, trust and obey the Lord. It is important that those who are Christ-centered to stand together in peaceful unity (Ephesian 4) as living lights, proclaiming the gospel, and remaining steadfast in your faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yes, anarchy is wrong because it rejects God’s command, but it is also wrong for Christians to seek revenge and not promote peace. Do what is right, be kind, and walk in humility with our God through Christ.

Grace and Peace! – GT.

One Comment on “What Does the Bible Say About Anarchy?

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