Do governments have a right to “mandate”?

During the pandemic governments have mandated lockdowns, curfews, quarantines, vaccinations and vaccine passports, and imposed penalties on  those who did not comply. So governments wield that kind of power over us. But should they have that kind of power, and do they have such a right to mandate?

Scripturally, the answer is “Yes” to governments having the power and right to mandate. And it’s God who gives them that right too, as Paul points out in Romans 13:1 – “The authorities that exist have been established by God….For (verse 4) he is God’s servant to do you good” and be “an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

As God’s servant, then, it’s a government’s job to keep its good citizens safe, and to mandate whatever it takes to do that. Our job as citizens – and as servants of God too – is to cooperate with and submit to what our governments mandate for our protection, and in doing so our conscience is free before God too (verse 5). 

And it would be nice if that’s all that needed to be said – that government does whatever is best for us and we go along with it. But what if our government mandates things that clash with other scriptures? The governing authorities in Acts 5:28, for instance, “gave strict orders (to the apostles) not to teach in Jesus’ name.” A strict order is the same as saying “mandated.” 

So, if Romans 13 is the last and only word on obeying mandates by governing authorities the apostles should have submitted, right? But in Acts 5:29, “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” 

So here’s an exception, where a government authority gave a mandate but no way were the apostles going to obey it. And why weren’t they? Because those in authority – who were supposed to be servants of God – didn’t care a hoot about God’s will. Instead of acknowledging God’s authority they directly opposed it and even wanted to kill those preaching it (verse 33).

Their only interest was “you do what we say, or else,” as we see in Acts 4:18, “But,” verse 19, “Peter and John replied: ‘Whether it is right in the eyes of God for us to listen to what you say rather than to what he says, you must decide.’” 

Well, as God’s appointed servants it was obvious what the authorities  should decide, and the apostles weren’t afraid to remind them of it too, just like Jesus reminded Pontius Pilate in John 19:11 that “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Just remember, Pilate, whose authority you’re under too. 

And when a government today forgets that, or doesn’t acknowledge God in any way, and they go ahead and make mandates without even considering God’s will, they need reminding too, that they are servants of his will, not their own. 

Governments don’t own us either, a point that Paul also made clear when he wrote: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body,” taking into account that our bodies are also “a temple of the Holy Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. It’s God’s clear will, then, that we treat our bodies as belonging to him. 

So when a government wants to mandate something that could potentially harm our bodies, and there’s evidence to show it’s harmful too, can we justifiably reply like the apostles replied in Acts 4:19 – “Whether it’s right in the eyes of God for us to listen to what you say rather than to what God says, you must decide”?

Because someone needs to remind our governing authorities, as Jesus did and so did the apostles, that in whatever they decide to do in the use of their authority they answer to God for it, because their God-given job, as described in Romans 13, is to protect us from harm, not put us in harm’s way. Those who put us in harm’s way join those who “bring judgment on themselves,” Romans  13:2 and need “to be afraid for God does not bear the sword for nothing,” verse 4. So governments can also become recipients of that judgment and become “wrongdoers” whom God punishes (verse 4).  

So, when it comes to government resorting to coercion tactics to get us all vaccinated with experimental drugs with unknown long term adverse effects on our bodies, are we still obligated to obey? And when governments ignore, reject and even censor all other options, alternative treatments and preventive health measures, is it God’s will that we as Christians simply go along with their short-sighted pressure tactics and propaganda, or do we include what God says about our bodies and refuse to risk unknown and unnecessary harm to them? More on that next time….  

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