Can I be a Christian and an Anarchist?

Can I be a Christian anarchist? Is anarchy bad? Should Christians be pacifists?

Is it possible for a Christian; a follower of Jesus Christ to be a pacifist and an anarchist, who simply rejects all forms of violence and all worldly systems of government and business…?

Tony

Thanks for writing! You ask an intriguing question. Pacifism and anarchy seem like an odd combination to me. Of course, for anarchists to succeed, it helps to have a lot of pacifists around. =) Let’s take them one at a time. It’s certainly possible for a follower of Christ to be a pacifist. There have been plenty throughout history. While I don’t believe that being a Christian equals being a pacifist, they’re certainly compatible.

Anarchy means a number of things, of course. I’m going to assume that you mean that you reject human government, preferring to live by the teachings and example of Jesus. That sounds good. Unfortunately, there are two drawbacks to this kind of anarchy:

  1. It’s purely theoretical. There has never been a long-lasting society without human leadership, including the 1st-century church. It’s a pleasing idea, but it simply doesn’t work. Therefore – in one sense – you can’t be a Christian and an anarchist, because you can’t sustain anarchy.
  2. Romans 13. There’s absolutely no wiggle room in Romans 13 for those who wish to engage in anarchy, civil disobedience, or to just ignore the laws of their country. Here are a few verses from Romans 13:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

I completely understand the desire to ‘opt out’ of certain parts of society. At the same time, the truth is inescapable: we’re to obey our government. Unless our government tries to force us to disobey God, we’re to follow the rules. As Peter said in Acts 5, we must obey God rather than man…but, as long as we can do both, we SHOULD do both. To disobey government simply because you don’t like it, or because you disagree with it, is to also disobey God.

There you go. Seems pretty straightforward. If you can think of a way for obedient Christians to get around Romans 13, let me know. I’m a patriotic American, but I don’t blindly support the USA or Israel. Many (if not most) of our leaders are corrupt, seeking not God’s will but their own. As with every other human system, America is destined to fail because humanity is at the center instead of God. Even the nation of Israel, when given the opportunity to let God be their king, asked for a human ruler so they could be like other nations. Take heart: God is still in control, even when things don’t feel like it. The battle is not ours, it’s God’s…we just follow orders. We don’t need to strategize about how to win, or how to minimize losses, or how to keep ourselves safe. God will do whatever needs to be done, and we simply need to be obedient. Walk in the Spirit, Tony. That’s all you need to do.