Which Bible passage do we heed?
Romans 13:1 put it straightforwardly: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
That Biblical passage has been used, misused and abused by dictators and tyrants since the beginning of time. Thus claiming “divine rule,” emperors and kings committed murders and other atrocities with impunity. So, Pontius Pilate, serving under Emperor Tiberius, also derived from God his authority to have “His only begotten Son” crucified? Adolf Hitler’s authority to slaughter millions of Jews, God’s own “chosen people,” emanated likewise from God? Edsa People Power, which defied the God-given authority of Ferdinand Edralin (no relation to me) Marcos, was a colossal heresy? Can any sane person really believe any of that seeming nonsense?
And yet what the Bible says plainly is so crystal-clear no “interpretation” is needed. Rodrigo Duterte is said to have become the leader of this country by God’s own design, too. Nailing the presidency against all odds and despite himself, he has called it “destiny,” that is, preordained by God. By the power of that divine appointment, he is deemed to have proceeded only on God’s instructions. That he now wants the death penalty back, it must logically follow he has God’s backing, right?
So why is the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, an organization supposedly devoted to the service of God, making so much fuss about the reimposition of the death penalty being rammed down by Duterte on his loyal legislators’ throats (“Pray for senators, bishops urge,” News, 3/20/17)? Are the Catholic bishops now defying the God-sent authority of Duterte?
Frankly, this is one reason I could never be a Bible-toting “Christian.” For starters, how can I love, as I love myself, an enemy who seeks to slit my throat? Am I prepared to give shelter to just anyone I see sleeping on the sidewalk at night, as the good book exhorts in Matthew 25:45? Pray tell, what would secure my family from being robbed or massacred by total strangers I welcome to my home with open arms? If I can only practice some teachings and discard the others, what am I—a half-baked Christian?
Many Christian church buildings/mansions have plenty of empty spaces in them. So, how about sharing some roof with homeless people by way of a good example. If the preachers really believe what they preach, they should put their money (not theirs anyway, but from tithes and donations) where their mouths are.
ARNULFO M. EDRALIN, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.