Symbols: Anarchy

The anarchy symbol is a very popular symbol among students today. The problem, however, is that most of these students have no idea what the symbol means. Webster defines anarchy as: (1a) absence of government (1b) a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority (2a) absence or denial of any authority or established order.

At its base, this symbol represents a belief or ideal that there be no government involving itself in the affairs of the general public. Those who truly believe in anarchy (in my experience at least) are usually actively involved in rebelling against the government. This is a natural reaction when you think about it. They believe that there should not be any form of government, yet there is. The natural thing for them to do is to take steps toward removing government so that things move more in-line with their belief system.

There is a fundamental problem with this belief system though. There can never truly exist anarchy. There will never be a community where there exists no “governmental figure.” Even in the smallest community of all—the family unit—there will invariably exist one who is the head-honcho. The parents will always exert control over their children, patriarchs will always exert control over the “tribe,” there will always exists rules in small community that must be enforced somehow, etc. There can never truly be a state of anarchy. Can there be a state where there is no formal government, absolutely. And to be fair, it is this goal I think many anarchists would like to see achieved.

From a biblical point of view, there is also never the possibility of anarchy. This is because the universe is under the control of the Creator. Creation itself answers to God (Hebrews 4:13, Revelation 3:14). The Bible also makes it clear that in the grand scheme of things, God is the only real authority in the life of a Christian: “For you granted him [Jesus] authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him” John 17:2, NIV (cf. John 5:27, Daniel 7:13-14).

The fact that God is the ultimate authority in the life of Christian does not mean that we should actively be rebelling against the government. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that Christians are to submit to the authority of the ruling government (Romans 13:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13, Titus 3:1). On the other hand, we are not to continue to submit to the rule of the government to the point of breaking the commands of God. God does not honor rebellion that is unwarranted (1 Samuel 15:22-23). The rebellion that God honors is when the government would require us to be disobedient to the commands of Scripture—such as Daniel (Daniel 1:8, 6:6-10) or Mordecai (Esther 3:1-3). At this point, it would echo the sentiment of the apostles when they proclaimed in Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men!”

So this symbol runs counter to the very core of Christianity. We do not believe that there should be the absence of any governmental authority, much less the absence of all authority. We believe that God is the highest authority in our lives, but that there are also many other authorities that we must submit to as well. And as long as the government that rules over us is not asking us to submit to rules and regulations that are counter to the Word of God, we should be submissive. Can we disagree with our government? Absolutely. Can we try to change the laws (in America anyways)? Absolutely. But we should go about doing so in a lawful manner and in a manner that displays the love of Christ to the world around us.

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