The Civil Magistrate and His Duty to Protect Life

Scripture Texts: Romans 13; Deuteronomy 16:19, 27:25

1. Introduction

“[The Negros in the South] have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity… then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait…

“These are just a few examples of unjust and just laws. There are some instances when a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I was arrested Friday on a charge of parading without a permit. Now there is nothing wrong with an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust…” —Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

God authorizes civil magistrates to establish justice according to His law; therefore, our universal accountability to Him is integral to Christian discipleship and community.

2. Four Governments and Two Paths

3. The Civil Magistrate Is Bound to Uphold the Moral Law of God

The Source of Law and Authority
God Defines the Sin and Crime of Murder, and the Magistrate’s Response

4. Example: The Trial That Was the Pivot of History

5. Supporting the Civil Magistrates in Fulfilling Their Responsbility to Protect Innocent Life

Chosing Rulers Who Will Honor God in Their Official Capacity
Insisting All Rulers Attend to Their God-Ordained Responsibilities