Divine Right of Kings and Presidents
It has long been thought by those who call themselves Christian that, based on the scriptural text of Romans 13, God instituted government and that those who are a part of the apparatus of the State are therefore, the “ministers of God” to whom we must pay tribute and obey whether or not we agree but there are a lot of problems for believers who interpret Romans 13 in this way.
Where in the scriptures do we see that God instituted human government? Other than Romans 13, where the translation of “higher powers” and “rulers” is thought to mean the state government one would be hard pressed to find anywhere in scripture that intimates that God is the author of human Government. In fact, when I reflect back to the story of the Tower of Babel, it was mankind who had come together to build a great city after God had specifically instruction mankind to, in my own terms, “Spread out!” And since they didn’t spread out God forced the issue by confounding the language forcing them to become divided according to their language and dispersing.
What God did instituted was the Family as the principal governing unit and not a large centralized government. It wasn’t until Israel that we see God institute government and even then Israel was pretty much a libertarian society with only appointed judges. They had no king. But Israel wanted a king; they wanted to be as the other nations who had kings and so God, in a libertarian manner, gave them what they wanted and they had to live with the consequences. After the dismal failure of King Saul, the people’s choice, they did for a short time, have a Golden Age one could say but even during the time of David and his son Solomon there was a lot of turmoil which is typical of centralized government and the power that comes with it.
That the officers of state government are not God’s ministers for our good is obvious. Finding any government throughout all of mankind’s known history that have been anything but corrupt and evil would be a daunting if not impossible task.
Another point to consider on the Romans 13 interpretation is the fact that elsewhere in Paul’s writings we see him admonishing believers who have been taking one another to “law” or the “unjust” civil courts. If these courts are seen by Paul as the “unjust” then he would be contradicting himself if in Romans 13 those same government officials are God’s ministers for good for how could the unjust be ministers for good?
1Co 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
There is another interpretation of Romans 13 that I believe to be correct. Paul Green does an excellent job of explaining the Romans 13 section and I believe he offers compelling evidence that the “higher power” and “rulers” are not the secular government authorities. You can read the article HERE. He also has several other related biblical articles HERE.