How Christians Should Feel About Liberation
CHRISTIANS are opposed to “liberation” that rejects properly exercised authority. Why? Because in reality it does not liberate—it enslaves. A simple example may serve to illustrate this.
A youth chafes under the authority of his parents, who forbid him to smoke and to drink alcoholic beverages. Not appreciating that their authority is being exercised for his own good, he longs for liberation. After becoming of age and leaving home, he finally achieves the liberation he has always wanted. But years later, after having become a chain smoker and a borderline alcoholic, his doctor tells him that for health reasons he must give up both smoking and drinking. He finds this difficult to do. His liberation has led to addiction, to enslavement.
Liberation From Absolute Authority
God’s authority is absolute and is based upon his being the Creator. This gives him the right to determine for his creatures what is proper conduct, what is moral and what is immoral. These standards, established for mankind’s welfare, are plainly set out in the Bible. “Do not be misled,” it says. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
It is particularly in this worldly-wise, sophisticated 20th century that man has tried to liberate himself from such moral guidelines. Yet, despite any so-called liberation, he cannot free himself from the consequences of practicing what God defines to be sin. Rather than being free, such persons have become slaves to their own desires, lusts, and passions, as Jesus clearly showed in saying: “Every doer of sin is a slave of sin.”—John 8:34; see also Romans 6:16.
Liberation From Relative Authority
Government officials have the right to exercise authority within the state, parents within the family, teachers within the school system, and Christian elders within the congregation. Of course, the authority is only relative. For example, the absolute authority of Jehovah, who commands that his servants read his Word and associate with fellow Christians, would take precedence over the relative authority of the husband who might demand that his wife do neither of these things.—Acts 5:29.
In recognition of the state’s relative authority, however, Christians could not participate in liberation movements to overthrow such authority. They could not condone civil disobedience simply because they disagree with governmental policy, neither could they encourage the withholding of taxes as a way of protesting against certain policies. “He who opposes the authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God,” said the apostle Paul, adding: “Those who have taken a stand against it will receive judgment to themselves.”—Romans 13:1-4.
But what if a government official is unjust and misuses his authority? What if he discriminates against individuals or unpopular minorities? The Bible’s counsel is: “If you see any oppression of the one of little means and the violent taking away of judgment and of righteousness in a jurisdictional district, do not be amazed over the affair, for one that is higher than the high one is watching.” (Ecclesiastes 5:8) It may be possible to appeal to a higher governmental authority or court. But even if justice is not obtained by that means, God’s servants can be confident that, “as regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 Chronicles 16:9.
It is a similar situation with a family. If husbands or fathers should misuse their authority, we can be sure that God eventually will right such matters, not allowing any injustices to exist in his righteous new system soon to come. In the meantime, Christian women and children continue to respect the principle of Christian headship, even if it is sometimes abused. They appreciate that it is not meant to belittle but is designed to ensure peace and unity within both the family and the Christian congregation.—1 Corinthians 11:3.
“Liberation” From Authority Within the Congregation
With regard to headship in the Christian congregation, God’s Word states: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account.” (Hebrews 13:17) Although this authority of elders is relative, yet it has been delegated to them by God through his holy spirit. Thus it has been granted in a more direct way than the relative authority delegated, for example, to government officials.—Acts 20:28.
Some have felt that the regulations and instructions issued by God’s visible organization are too restrictive, not allowing for enough individual freedom. This has caused them to stop associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses; no longer are they willing to be submissive to those keeping watch over their souls. Although these persons possibly consider themselves liberated, their “liberation” has, in fact, enslaved them once again to false religious beliefs and practices.
True Christians respect authority, both the absolute authority of God and the relative authority of humans. This proper view of authority prevents them from misusing the Christian freedom that a knowledge of the truth has given them.
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God’s authority is absolute and is based upon his being the Creator
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Christians do not rebel against the state because of policies for which it will have to answer to God
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True Christians respect authority, both the absolute authority of God and the relative authority of humans
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Paying back to the authority
Recognizing relative authority in the congregation
Appreciating the Supreme Authority, Jehovah God