By Ambassador Dhano Obongo
January 13, 2017 (SSNA) — When I went to Australia in 1997 for resettlement as a political refugee, the commonwealth government offered the option to choose becoming an Australian citizen with the right to vote or to be a nonvoting indefinite resident. Voting is compulsory under the Australian constitution and political policy for citizens. I chose to become an Australian citizen.
Prior to a big ceremony organized by the Brisbane City Council (BCC), Lord Mayor, I swore an oath of allegiance and memorized ten points on the duties and responsibilities of a citizen. They wanted me to be knowledgeable that I must pay taxes to the government and protect Australian territory against foreign aggression. In return the commonwealth had responsibility toward citizens to deliver various social services.
What does the Bible teach on these matters? In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle, Paul, wrote in his 13th chapter, verses 1 – 7, that we are to submit to our rulers or leaders. The key word is submitted. Of course, in those days, the rulers were pagans. Christians might be tempted to declare loyalty only to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and not submit to civil or political leaders.
But the Bible teaches that civil and political leaders are ordained by God. This was so even when we South Sudanese were in a persecuting state such as the Islamic government of the former united Sudan. See the first letter of Peter, chapter 2, verses 13 – 17. As Christian citizens, we should do what is right and good as the Bible teaches.
However, when civil or political leaders exceed their proper authority, the Christian citizen is to conform to God’s will rather than the government of His creatures. See Acts 4:19 and 5:29.
According to Biblical teaching, civil and political rulers are God’s servants instituted for community advantage to defend the general public and preserve good order and legal behavior. The Roman sword was the symbol of good order and discipline (power) in Paul’s day for the nation and the empire. Power was to preserve good order and behavior. If political leaders are predestined by God, then Christian citizens can appropriately and ethically support and respect rulers. As Christian citizens, we are obligated by biblical teaching to pay taxes. Rulers are stewards of revenue and God’s instruments tasked to benefit society in general.
I would like to seize this opportunity to wish the Juba Monitor Editorial leadership, dear readers in general and specially my readers of my column, people South Sudan and our beloved leadership a blessing Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. God bless our beloved country and our rulers.
The author can be reached via E-mail: [email protected].