When high school and college students read the section on civil disobedience in the book, Christian Ethics in Plain Language, they usually think about it hypothetically. How should Christians respond if government commanded them to do something that violates the Bible? American Christians have rarely had to consider this difficult ethical question, until now. Prominent Christian leaders warn that such a question may be just around the corner.
These Christian leaders have signed a document with the title Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. Those who have signed the document are a who’s who of religious leaders: James Dobson, Mat Staver, Rick Scarborough, Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Tim Wildmon, Penny Nance, James Robison, Robert Jeffress. Already more than 37,000 people have signed it.
It begins: “We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage. On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity.”
Many of the signers went on to say that they would engage in civil disobedience. By that they meant “peaceful resistance against unjust laws and unjust rulings.”
Meanwhile other Christian groups are also talking about resisting the unjust law passed by the government of the District of Columbia. The law in question is the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act. Pro-life groups in the Washington, D.C. area fear that the law would force them to hire people who are not pro-life and also force them to pay for abortions. Therefore, they also plan to violate the law until it is overturned.
It appears that the biblical principles governing civil disobedience are about to move from the hypothetical to the actual.