Six reasons why Christian soldiers should not join protest rallies, fight, 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 pursuits. A Christian soldier’s 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 life of others by doing good work. To be “light” means to witness God’s Word—not to be social justice warriors.
The flesh seeks after rights and privileges. Man tends to fight back if those are threatened. The obsession with social change becomes an obstacle to God’s redemptive plan—turning it into idols of religious, political leaders.
Rebuke religious leaders—avoid meddling in politics
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).
However, Filipinos wanted Marcos back in power. A slap on the face of the Catholic church that helped Cory Aquino in power.
The government is not accountable to the church and the church is not accountable to the government. But in matters of faith, the “Great Commission” and keeping “religious leaders” accountable is our responsibility.
Roman authorities abused Jews and Christians. They wanted to fight back. Instead, the apostles encouraged them to pray instead. However, Jesus openly rebuked religious leaders.
It is not to say that Christians should not run for public office
Throughout history, Christians like William Wilberforce helped free the enslaved people in England. Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent protest eased black segregation, and Senator Pacquiao pushed the National Bible Month.
God can use believers or unbelievers to shape or reshape a government
God can selectively use believers or unbelievers to make changes in the government if it is His will. For example, in 2017, God used President Duterte to proclaim November, as the National Bible Month. Even though he mocked the “God of the Catholics.” In 1982, God used President Marcos to initiate Bible reading for the entire nation.
Political reforms are temporary, the next administration can reverse previous mandates. Thus, it is the hearts of the people that must be changed.
In the USA, no matter what Christians did to stop the government from removing prayers in public schools, they failed because they forced a strong religious agenda.
2. The Bible gives NO concrete example Christians must 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.
Prophets have the right to rebuke leaders
Prophets are the mouthpiece of God (with divine authority). They 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.
3. The 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 who are 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 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 referred to exposing demonic practices, false religions, and sins such as adultery among others.
- 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 will 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. Elijah, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Queen Esther’s experience NOT about fighting the government—always put scriptures into context
Elijah: A prophet’s role is to pull down or build up. God gave Elijah the “right” to be confrontational (Jer 1:10); that is what prophets do.
Nehemiah: As a cupbearer, he was devoted and respectful to King Artaxerxes that 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: She 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, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Ten Booms
William Wilberforce is a prime example of a Christian who fought for a 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.
It is difficult to draw the line between exposing or criticizing evil. One thing is sure, the Ten Booms’ silent voice was heard loud and clear when they opened their home to save many Jews.
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’s 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)
6. The Bible is clear, avoid politics and be peaceable
- 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; Zechariah 14:9 point to a day we will have righteousness in government that God Himself will establish.
Live a quiet life and mind your ministry
The apostles admonish us to be peaceable. That’s impossible to do in politics. The followers of Jesus to 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 life in all godliness and honesty.
Jesus knew the need for social-political change, but he came for another battle.
Bottom-line, what battle are you fighting?
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 with 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 meant 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’ followers fought the battle for souls.