“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God!” Thomas Jefferson said it. Or was it Benjamin Franklin? Thomas Paine? Maybe none of them said it, though you’ll find it attributed to all three and perhaps others. It does sound like something one of them would have said, doesn’t it? It sounds like something the giants who founded our republic would have believed.
There are just two problems, first, if they said it or believed it they didn’t live up to it, and second, they weren’t quite so giant as we think of them today. That they weren’t giants is good, though, and should give us hope in the present turmoil we find our world in. In their day men like George Washington and Benjamin Rush, to quote Abraham Lincoln, “brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” But how dedicated were they really, if only as Lincoln was uttering those words were a whole race of men receiving some meager measure of their birthright of equality? Of course there were political realities to consider at the founding of this nation and certain interests were not willing or ready to allow any but white men to be legally relevant persons, all others were chatel to one degree or another.
And how many times have I heard my own family or friends claim no responsibility for the burden of racial inequality that the black population still bears because, “I never owned any slaves!” How many times have I justified myself with the same words? Ever forgetting that the equality that all men are due and have been promised from the Father above was not given in full to the black population of this country for many years after the Emancipation Proclamation was codified into law.
So as much as they ought to be revered for establishing a republic dedicated to the principles of equality for all men, they were tyrants in their own way for not aspiring past the continued subjugation of an entire race. The tyranny continued for over two hundred years in one form or another, some say it continues today. So if we are not party to the tyranny we are no more than one generation removed from it. So how could we begrudge the subjects of such tyranny there continued wariness toward those of us who not long ago would have owned them as property and since have sought control their destinies still as if they were? The Jews still bear the psychological weight of the Egyptian captivity and that was thousands of years ago.
Sin and discord are the calling card of mankind in our godless state. We earned these two natures at Eden and Babel. ISIS may hate the west because of our way of life and their interpretation of the Quran, the Baptists of Westboro may hate homosexuals because of something they think they read in the Bible, and I may find hesitation in my heart when I encounter an unknown black person but at bottom these are all the result of those two natures. Sin and discord, Eden and Babel. At Eden we grasped at autonomy (“has God really said…” Genesis 3:1) and at Babel our stolen autonomy birthed in us the arrogance to think that God’s home in heaven could be reached by our efforts (“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens” Genesis 11:4) , arrogance is the word.
Yet if the divisions between races, religions, and genders are of our own making in separating ourselves from God the only hope of reconciliation must be in returning to Him and bring others with us. My soul has been scarred by the violence this world has had to offer in worship to the idols of sin and discord. Hasn’t yours as well? How many tears have we shed, wiped them away, and pointed a finger at “them”. Well, “they” didn’t cause it WE did. Tyranny reigns wherever God is not foremost in the hearts of men and women. No matter the color of our skin, no matter what we believe, if we’re not seeing people as He would have us see them WE ARE THE TYRANTS. So yes, resistance to tyrants is obedience to God! We’ll join the resistance when we take to our knees and begin to pray for Him to purge us of all prejudice and unrighteousness and get up and embrace those we once hated as brothers. It again was Lincoln who said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friend?”