Was the Revolutionary War Sinful?


Here are the facts:

In 1763 the French stopped attacking the American Colonies.  The British rulers imposed new taxes on the Colonies to show their authority and power over them.  The Colonies saw these as illegitimate because they had little American representation in British government; therefore they had no choice in the matter.  In response to these taxes and some trade regulations on the Colonies, the Americans formed their own Provincial Congress in each Colony.  In 1774 these Provincial Congress’s became united in their rejection of the British taxes and created the first Continental Congress.  In response to this rejection Britain sent combat troops to Boston and the fighting began in 1775.  After another year, the Continental Congress wrote up what they called, the Declaration of Independence, which rejected the British Monarchy and its parliament.  In 1778 America allied with France, and Britain slowly lost control of the Colonies after large battles in Saratoga (1777) and Yorktown (1781).  The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, which ended the fighting and all British rule over the Colonies.  America was free, just as they wanted.

Now to my question; was the American revolution against British rule sinful?  Why even ask this question?  Romans 13 brings it into view.  Paul says in Romans 13:1-5 “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.”

I think Paul’s point is hard but clear.  We ought to submit to the governing authorities because in doing so we submit to God.  Notice that Paul says to submit to the government as it is not as it ought to be.  Paul’s point becomes especially clear when you realize that he is writing during Emperor Nero’s rule.  How does this make Paul’s point clearer?  Nero persecuted the Church more than any ruler to this present day.  He would often sew up Christians inside animal skins and let lions loose on them, to be eaten alive.  He would also dip Christians in oil, tie them to poles in his garden, and light them on fire to light his garden during the night.  Yet Paul says, submit to the governing authorities, submit to Nero.

We must keep in mind that there is a time to not obey the government.  This is only to happen when the government tells us to stop doing something God has commanded (see here).  Notice also that when we do not obey the government, we do not take up arms either.  We continue obeying God, and if necessary, lay down our lives for doing so.  Never are we to take up arms against the government because we cannot do this or that.  Was this the case with the Revolutionary War?  I think so, yes.  They wanted to get out from under the British rule and taxes, and fought because of it.  So was this War sinful?  Yes.  Praise God that He uses our sin for the good right? (Genesis 50:20)

I know that some (maybe most) will view me as being unpatriotic because of this; but shall we honor country above God and His Word?  No.  The 4th of July is the day America celebrates our disobedience to Romans 13. I am not anti-American, I’m from here, and I do enjoy living here.  I’m thankful for those who gave their lives to purchase our freedom.  But I will submit to the government in everything as Romans 13 calls me and every other person to do.  I will not submit to anything this country commands that God has forbidden in His Word.

What is my aim in telling you these things?  I simply want you to view history more through God’s Word than through patriotism.  I want you to be more Christian than American.

What does this mean about celebrating July 4th?  Do I think those who celebrate are sinful?  Yes and no.  Yes, because the War was sinful.  No, because we are celebrating God’s goodness to us in spite of our sin (He has blessed our nation in spite of our sin).  We ought to remember on the 4th of July that God has given us ultimate freedom, not from man’s rule and man’s taxes; but from the world, the flesh, and the devil, by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Would you join me in the submission we are called to in Romans 13?

4 thoughts on “Was the Revolutionary War Sinful?

  1. Augustine states that the three reasons for a “Just War” are 1) just cause 2) legitimate authority and 3) right intention. He also states that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Dr. Martin Luther King believed in that premise firmly. It is documented that German Christians during WW ll cooperated with Nazi authorities in reporting the location of Jews. They sincerely believed they were obeying ROM. 13. Aquinas argues that just law is based upon eternal or natural law. Disobedience to civil authority must be allocated to personal conscience as well. This is a sensitive issue. Disobedience to God’s word is sin but disobedience to conscience is sin also.

    1. I agree that disobedience to the Word is sin, but when it comes to conscience I’m not so sure. That would seem to me to open a relativistic mindset about what sin is and what it is not. The thing which clears it up for me is that no matter where the conscience is, it should be captive to the Word and submit to it.

  2. Hi Adam, this is Wesley Welch. I recently shared this blog with a friend and after reading why you believe the revolutionary war was sinful he responded by asking this question: he quotes “I’m thankful for those who gave their lives to purchase our freedom.” / Is he thankful for sin? Then isn’t his thankfulness sin?” In his mindset, if the revolutionary war was sin, then are you saying you are thankful for that act of sin in the above quote?

    1. Hey Wesley! Hope you’re well.

      I would respond by saying it is not thankfulness for sin in view here, but thankfulness to God for bringing good to our nation in spite of its sinful origin. Thoughts?

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