PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATIONS AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Here at For My People Ministry we have received many questions and comments regarding the sudden outbreak of unrest and civil disobedience that began in the United States and has spread to many parts of the world.
Many are wondering if civil disobedience and peaceful demonstrations are something a Christian can participate in when the cause is just. Many are wondering what is the proper way to process this information, not only on a personal level, but especially on a spiritual level. Many use social media to share their thoughts and feelings. Sadly, social media often spreads conflicting personal opinions instead of clear spiritual direction.
It is so sad that, in addition to the difficulties, pain, and deaths caused by Covid-19, so many innocent, law-abiding citizens are seeing the source of their livelihood destroyed and burned to ashes, leaving them distressed and empty-handed. Christians must not echo or repeat the hatred that is often observed during demonstrations of civil disobedience. We as Christians are called to love all peoples—black, white, brown, pink, yellow, poor, and rich—like our heavenly Father does, with a heart full of unconditional love.
The use of race as a factor is alien to God’s character and purposes. His children are to love and respect each other. Jesus told us to love one another in the same way and to the same extent that He loved us when He stretched out His arms and died for us on the cross.
In fact, do you remember what Jesus did when He was accosted by an angry mob hours before He was crucified? He remained calm, restored a severed ear, told Peter to put away his sword, and said that those who take up swords will perish the same way.
Jesus did not get involved in social issues. He never participated in a demonstration or a revolt, even though there was plenty of reason to be angry, due to the abuses that Roman soldiers routinely carried out. We are called to imitate His example.
In God’s eyes, civil disobedience is never right or acceptable. Jesus has not called us to participate in demonstrations, even peaceful ones. The only time we as Christians are authorized to disobey the laws of the land is when they conflict with God’s laws, for example, if we are required to worship on Sunday. For example, here is a short statement by Ellen White.
I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. Counsels for the Church, p. 314
We all know that civil disobedience and lawlessness always result in grim consequences. Every day all over the world terrible wrongs are inflicted on the innocent. As God’s people, it is not our place to lend our voice or influence to criticize or support social issues. In one example of the right way to protest against social evils, in the 1800s Ellen White spoke widely against alcohol and drinking. However, there was no civil disobedience involved.
Even in examples of abuse, it is not humanity’s place to judge. The demonstrators are effectively taking judgment into their own hands. However, God’s Word tells us “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” because “Vengeance is Mine.” It is easy to forget that God is the only One authorized to judge!
We recommend not participating in social media, especially during times of unrest. We need to keep our minds on our Father, who is sitting on His throne in heaven and watching everything that is going on here. We do not need to worry. He knows all and is in control.
A good way to share on social media would be to quote the statement above from Counsels for the Church, as well as these thoughts we are sharing with you. To think that Jesus said, “Will I find faith when I return?”
Stay focused; stay faithful. Keep praying, because Jesus is on His way!