Eight reasons why Christians in “active duty” should not join protest rallies, rant, or tell what the government should do
We must submit to rulers and authorities (Titus 3). However, we should obey God rather than men, “expose evil,” and rebuke sinners (Eph. 5:11; Luke 17:3). But then, Jesus commands us to love and pray for those who persecute us (Mt. 5:44).
With seeming confusion, the Bible is clear: Christians should not join a protest rally, fight, or tell what the government should do. These are civilian and earthly pursuits. The war isn’t against flesh and blood but against the unseen spiritual forces.
1. God calls us to be salt and light, not to be social justice warriors
To be “salt” means to make a difference in the lives of others by doing good work. To be “light” means to witness God’s Word—not to be social justice warriors.
The flesh seeks rights and privileges. Man tends to fight back if those are threatened. Still, the Bible is clear: we must submit to every human institution—except when we’re told not to worship God.
- Romans 13:1-2 – Every person is to be subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, who establishes those which exist…
- 1 Peter 2:13 – Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority.
- John 19:11 – Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me unless it had been given you from above…”
Religious leaders in politics endanger the Gospel they preach
During the 2022 Philippine presidential election, surveys heavily favored the return of Marcos to power. Catholic Archbishop Villegas said, “The Church should always be nonpartisan, but the Church cannot be neutral kapag ang pinag-usapan ay good or evil” (if the issue is between good or evil).
Likewise, evangelical leaders did their part to prevent “unrighteous candidates” from winning the election. For example, PCEC and CCF’s Christian Values Movement ‘educated’ Christians on the kind of leaders they should vote for. They endorsed three candidates out of five, disavowing Marcos Jr.
While the intention is noble, the Constitution and the Bible are clear regarding the separation of church and state. A Christian leader bent on fighting the government should resign from the church.
A Christian leader bent on fighting the government should resign from church.
Evangelicals in the USA
For decades, Christian leaders constantly pushing religious reforms in government eventually backfired. Atheists complained against prayers in public schools. The constant homophobic rants of religious fanatics gave rise to militant LGBTQ who pushed for same-sex marriage.
God can use believers or unbelievers to shape or reshape a government
Throughout history, Christians like William Wilberforce helped free the enslaved people in England. Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent protest eased black segregation.
God can selectively use believers or unbelievers to make changes in the government if it is His will. In 1982, God used President Marcos Sr. to initiate Bible reading for the entire nation.
2. The Bible does not advocate New Testament Christians fight the government
Mark 12: “Give to Ceasar”
Christian activists use Mark 12 or Matthew 22 (paying taxes to Ceasar) as proof that Jesus meddled in political discussions. On the contrary, He avoided it by saying to the people to pay their taxes and not protest the exorbitant “tribute payment.”
Luke 13:32 “That fox”
Another example social activists use is when Jesus referred to Herod as “that fox” in Luke 13:32. In Rabbinical writings, “the fox” signifies someone who was both crafty and worthless.
It seems to run opposite Exodus 22:28, Ecc 10:20, and Acts 23:5, where we’re told not to speak ill of our leaders. Some Christians use it as a reference to justify criticizing the government. After all, Jesus did.
Jesus, the prophets have the right to rebuke leaders
Jesus spoke with divine authority and referred to Herod the way He wanted to because He is our judge, the final authority who will save or condemn us.
Prophets are the mouthpiece of God (having divine authority). They were instructed to rebuke leaders. The rest of us are tasked to be good role models, pray for our leaders, and help one another, especially those who face government injustice.
3. Context of Proverbs 31:8-9 is for King Solomon, not his subjects
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
- Christian activists often use Proverbs 31:8-9 to justify ranting, rallying, and criticizing the government. The context is entirely different, which is not to say we shouldn’t help the needy (Proverbs 14:21)
- King Lemuel (traditionally known as the young Solomon), mentioned in Proverbs 31, had a wise mother who advised him how to rule.
- His mother warns the young Lemuel, who is yet to be king, not to fall into immorality and drunkenness and never pervert justice. Instead, a king should seek “true justice.” Speak up for those who cannot, and defend the poor and needy.
- The verse is not about Christians waging war against civil authority.
4. Context of Ephesians 5:11 is exposing false religions, not civil disobedience
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
- Ephesians 5:11 refers to exposing demonic practices, false religions, and sins such as adultery.
- It’s not about government because every Jew already knew that the Roman government was evil. Yet the apostles never said anything about politics.
- The apostles avoided criticizing the Roman government because it would draw the wrong attention.
- Exposing someone’s fault without offering God’s grace and redemption does not bring about the glory of God. Politics divides people.
5. Context of Romans 13 applies to all authorities
Romans 13 is often twisted to justify political activism. Scripture is clear: ALL human authorities, whether they are righteous or not. The Bible has several examples of evil and unrighteous rulers whom God used to judge a nation or accomplish His plan. [Submission to authority in the Bible]
Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except God, and God institutes those that exist.
When the government decrees anti-Biblical laws
Romans chapter 13 assumes obedience to a government that upholds “good conduct” for “our own good.” (Romans 13:3-4). However, if the government legislates anti-Biblical morals that go against the Christian faith, Christians should NEVER obey them, even to the point of imprisonment and death.
However, it is considered inappropriate for a Christian leader to openly or indirectly endorse political figures and for a Christian to participate in protests and rallies, particularly alongside non-believers.
But if you must expose evil, do so by offering a solution, which goes back to the Gospel.
Rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant for your good… For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.
Instead of a protest, campaign for Bible studies and discipleship
Today, Christian protest is rampant against abortion, same-sex marriage, and other social and political issues. While these are noble causes, the apostles tell us not to entangle ourselves with civil issues, to be peaceable, and to avoid being targeted as dissidents. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
There are many ways to be heard—but a politically motivated protest is never the answer. The rampant corruption and immoral threat we are facing is not a government issue but a spiritual problem. The Gospel is the only solution.
The immoral threat we are facing is not a government issue, but a spiritual problem.
6. Context of Titus 2 has nothing to do with government
Some Christians use Titus 2 to justify criticizing the government, citing the call “to rebuke with all authority; let no one disregard you” (v15). However, Titus was addressing our worldly passions (“turn from godless living and sinful pleasures“), not ungodly government officials.
On the contrary, Titus reminds us to be gentle, non-contentious, and submissive, except when we are told to deny faith.
Titus 3 is declaring God’s glory—Jesus, who gave himself to redeem and purify us from lawlessness, to be boldly declared, not for rebuking the government.
And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.
7. “Name dropping” great Christian men to justify government protest
Elijah, Nehemiah, and Queen Esther
Elijah was a prophet, and his responsibility was to pull down or build up leaders whom God appointed. God gave Elijah the “right” to be confrontational (Jer 1:10)—that is what prophets do.
Nehemiah, a cupbearer, was devoted and respectful to King Artaxerxes, and the king helped him rebuild the temple (Ne 2:5). The “great protest” of Nehemiah was against his fellow Jews, not the king.
Queen Esther used her position to save the Jews by exposing the evil Haman (Esther 5:8). King Xerxes obliged Esther because she was submissive to the crown (Esther 7:1-10).
William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer
William Wilberforce is a prime example of a Christian who fought for much-needed social change. Wilberforce was a lawmaker—not a pastor. He defended the helpless by ensuring the abolition of slavery by lawful yet tactical means.
On the other hand, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an admirable theologian tasked to preach Jesus. He urged “silent Christians” to stop appealing to theology to justify their reserved silence about what Hitler was doing—that is fear, he said.
He got involved with Hitler’s assassination, hoping to stop evil. However, it did little. Instead, it strengthened Hitler’s delusion of grandeur and invisibility. Bonhoeffer was reduced from a preacher to a war criminal.
The Ten Booms
Perhaps, the Ten Boom family sets the best example of how to fight, protest, or rally against the government. The way they exposed and criticized the evil Nazi regime was through their loud action but silent voices.
Like the rest of those who protested in the Bible, they did it by helping and saving the lives of others—not through public rallies or ranting out loud their grievances against the government. [Ten Boom testimony]
Bonhoeffer was reduced from a preacher to a war criminal.
Examples of godly men who disobeyed authority within the Biblical context:
- Hebrew midwives disobeyed Pharaoh, but the Israelites did not campaign to take him down. (Exodus 1:15-22)
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused the king’s command but submitted to its consequences. (Daniel 3:16)
- According to God’s instructions, Elijah rebuked and confronted the evil King Ahab (1 Kings 18). Are you God’s prophet that you need to rebuke government authority?
- Wealthy Jews enslaved fellow Jews through usury. Nehemiah was so angry and led a “great protest.” It was directed to nobles and religious officials. He wanted to help the poor. (Nehemiah 5:1-7)
- In 1807, William Wilberforce used politics to suppress black slavery with the Slave Trade Bill. His burden was to free enslaved people, not criticize the monarchy.
- In 2020, apologist John MacArthur refused to obey California’s ban on church gatherings. His concern was about fellowship, not how bad the Mayor was. MacArthur always encouraged submission to government authority.
Remember, you may speak up and defend the poor & needy (Pro. 31:8-9). Expose evil and corruption (Eph. 5:11). However, malign no one, be courteous and avoid quarreling (Titus 3:2). Make it an ambition to lead a quiet life (1 Thessalonians 4:11), and don’t entangle yourself with civilian pursuits. (2 Timothy 2:3–4)
8. The Bible is clear: Live a quiet and peaceable life
The apostles admonish us to be peaceable. That’s impossible to do when we involve ourselves in political debacle. The followers of Jesus live a quiet life to avoid condemnation and win commendation.
1 Thessalonians 4:11
“… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.”
1 Timothy 2:2
Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.
How God deals with the government and our response:
- God “establishes” ALL government, good or bad. (Romans 13:1)
- God “removes” leaders according to His plan. (Daniel 2:20-22)
- God raised “evil rulers” in the past to judge a nation. (Habakkuk 1:6)
- God allows a bad leader to rule to accomplish His perfect will.
- Jesus did not incite people against their ruthless Emperor. (Luke 23:5)
- Jesus refused to be involved in a political debate. (Mt. 22:15-22)
- Jesus knew the need for social-political change, but He came for another battle: “to save souls.”
- Jesus commands us to make disciples—not change the government (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s often non-Christians involved in social activism.
- Isaiah 9:6, Daniel 2:44, and Zechariah 14:9 point to a day we will have righteousness in government that God Himself will establish.
Bottom line, what battle are you fighting?
The obsession with social change becomes an obstacle to God’s redemptive plan—turning it into idols of religious and political leaders.
Jesus knew the need for justice and political change, but he came for another battle just as His followers fought the battle for the soul.
If you want to run for public office—go for it; we need Christians in government. If you are tasked to defend religious freedom—do it! However, an “active soldier” of Christ does not involve himself in civilian pursuits. (2 Timothy 2:3–4)
When can we fight the government?
- You have time for it instead of discipling others.
- When the “great commission” is not a priority.
- If you are qualified to do so, which also means God called you to do so.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since he aims to please the one who enlisted him. (2 Timothy 2:3–4)
Jesus knew the need for political change, but he came for another battle.