University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
A Christian Perspective on Political Thought
Civil disobedience is state in which people do not follow the rules and laws of a country as a form of political protest. The people who practice civil disobedience refuse to disperse; they block access to some buildings and block some roads or may disobey the laws of the country. A good example of civil disobedience in the Bible is when Jesus shut down the temple. Scholars say that this was one of the causes of his death on the cross. Civil disobedience is acceptable if the people feel they have to do it so long as they do not infringe in other people’s business.
Civil disobedience did not start recently but has been in existence during the past. In the Bible, a few instances of civil disobedience can be noted. According to the Bible, Daniel disobeyed the king so that he could have the right to worship. He refused to worship as the king had instructed and decided to worship his God. This led to the king throwing him in a den of lions. This disobedience to the king and doing what he pleased can be viewed as a form of civil disobedience (2 Kings). Another instance of civil disobedience can be sited when Ester went to the king’s chamber without the king summoning her. It was a law that nobody went to the king’s chamber without being summoned. However, Ester defied the law and went to the king’s chamber (the book of Ester). In the New Testament, civil disobedience is portrayed by Peter and John. Peter had healed a lame man and this led them to be arrested by the authorities. Even after being arrested, Peter and John remain firm and insist that they will continue worshipping their God and preaching the gospel about Jesus (the book of Acts). Another instance is in the book of revelation when John writes and says that the Christians will go against the rule of the antichrist during the end times. He states that the Christians of that time will refuse to bow to his image. (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery 115)
From the instances above, the characters that practiced civil disobedience broke some laws so that they could have their way or do what they thought was right. Civil disobedience can therefore, be viewed as a sort of rebelliousness by a person so that they can have their way. The person who practices civil disobedience can feel that he is oppressed and not allowed to do what he wants. He may result to practicing civil disobedience so that the authorities can take note of him. It is also good to note that the civil disobedience is practiced when there is a conflict between man’s laws and God’s laws. Daniel did not follow the king’s laws but followed God’s law (worshipping). Ester on the other hand went against the law of the land so that she could save her people from being killed. Civil disobedience can be taken as a course of action if the individual feels oppressed and has to follow God’s law rather than man’s law.
Some people may oppose the use of civil disobedience but Christians can put civil disorder into action because of their religious beliefs (Mott 105). Christians can non-violently oppose the government that promotes evil. This implies that they can peacefully work to change the government of the country while working with the laws of that country. Besides that, the Christians may also result to civil disobedience if the laws of the land conflict with the laws of God. Good examples where this comes into action are stated earlier in this article. However, Christians are subject to the laws of the country unless they flee from that country. If they disobey the laws of the country, they will be caught and cannot escape justice. In accordance to that, the decision to use civil disorder by an individual is according to the religious beliefs of a person or what he believes is right for him but is not allowed to do it.
Civil disobedience has been used by other people other than in the Bible. A good example is when Gandhi of India decided to have a salt march (Falcon 135). He rallied the people and they had a salt march due to the high taxes of the salt. The march was also a good step for the attainment of independence of India. Civil disobedience was also put into action by the leaders of the black in South Africa. They did peaceful marches and the police did not arrest them. This yielded the desired effect since Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and led the country to attain its independence.
The use of civil disobedience can therefore, be termed as an important tool to voice one’s displeasure. The examples cited have shown how civil disobedience can yield results. Whenever it has been put into action, the civil disobedience yields the desired effect. Mostly, the authorities give in to the demands and the people have their way.
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Place of publication not identified: Ivp Academic, n.d.. Print.
Falcón, y T. M. J. Civil Disobedience. Leiden [u.a.: Nijhoff, 2004. Print.
Mott, Stephen C. A Christian Perspective on Political Thought. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Internet resource.