Uncommon Sense

June 21, 2018

Parsing Romans 13

Many people have chimed in on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ claim last week that separating children from their parents was a biblical gesture, citing Romans 13 of the New Testament supporting his administrations policy of separating parents from children when people cross our border without permission. Some critics claim to prove that Sessions’ use of Romans 13 is theologically incorrect. What most people seem to ignore is the question of why Romans 13 exists at all, being an unnecessary theological statement, and a purely political one.

“Romans” was written in the late 50’s CE as best we can figure such things. This was well before Christianity was adopted as “a” state religion of Rome in the early 300’s CE and then as “the” state religion of Rome in the later 300’s CE. After Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire, the greatest persecutor, by far, of Christians was other Christians. Prior to that point, there were occasional persecutions of Christians by the Romans. These persecutions were exaggerated by the early Christians for effect, but they did occur. (Please keep in mind that the Roman empire was not a glitter and glitz parade that it is often portrayed as in movies, but a rather brutal authoritarian regime, one in which a blow to the face was the expected result of questioning authority.)

So, Christians of the time of the writing of Romans were trying desperately to not be singled out by the Romans for more extensive persecutions, examples of which abounded. So, the attitudes of Christian leaders were basically: keep your head down, obey the rules, pay your taxes, etc. not because the Romans had the right to rule but that they had the might to rule and exercised it regularly.  The only way Christians could be convinced to do this was to establish that they had the right to rule given to them by the Christian’s god, hence Romans 13 (which was a novel invention with no prior support in scripture … and before you start writing comments, consider that the Israelite and Judean rulers were “authorized” on as extensions of their god and only as long as they did God’s will; piss off the priests and you might be an ex-king in just a few days; the Romans were a pagan run civilization). Christians, however, had some real problems trying to fit in under this scheme as their religion forbade them from worshipping the Emperor, pagan cults, etc., all of which made them “trouble makers.”

It is not unfortunate that we are finally beginning to get a real grasp on the well-established conservative Christian view that modern government has outgrown its natural boundaries by usurping both the family’s role as educators and caregivers, and the church’s role as social service agency. This is bullshit, of course, because when you look back at how schools developed, they developed out of groups trying to provide a better education for their children than they could provide themselves. The bucolic view of fathers teaching their sons and mothers their daughters is all fine and good as long as all of these people were in the same place, but when fathers started leaving the home for work, as opposed to farming their own piece of land, this system no longer worked. Dad was “at work,” son was at home (and, of course, the girls didn’t count) so how much teaching could be done? So, groups of people, often springing out of church relationships found “teachers” and solved their problem by division of labor. These schools were “government” as much as anything was governmental when they were created but they weren’t governmental as we now look at things. They were merely collective. (This practice continues today, by the way.)

As warm and fuzzy as things sound, this system founded upon “the family’s role as educators and caregivers, and the church’s role as social service agency” would be about as well received today as a fart in an elevator. Basically, this is the libertarian view that we are all alone in this world, that we cannot depend on anyone else. Under this viewpoint, doctors are busybodies who should mind their own business and public transportation (buses, streetcars, trains, run by the government) is anathema. (Hey, if the Koch brothers are against it, you know it isn’t part of the Libertarian future.) Under this viewpoint collectivism is a dirty word.

But, then Christianity isn’t democratic in any way. It is the most authoritarian of systems, and all of the effing plutocrats want in on the power involved as recipients of the authority as middle men.

These people are dangerous, dangerous to any idea of collective behavior. It is astonishing that they even approve of church bake sales. Basically I think that religion is the horse they rode into town on and they will ride it until it drops, so anything goes when it comes to religion as long as it toes the line with regard to the authority structure in families and society in general (power needle points to men, white men, unquivering).

All hail the Libertarians!




  1. Excellent Steve! Spot on regarding politics and families incompatibly coupled with mythical, intangible religion.

    Amazing how much and how insidiously our DNA often holds us back or takes us back and still retains our crude primate behaviors and thinking. And then those groups/institutions veil primal behavior/thinking calling it libertarianism or democracy or republican while claiming license to/from a non-existent divine being. I swear so much of this behavior borders on clinical psychological admission criteria! 😬 I’m dead serious.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Professor Taboo — June 21, 2018 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

    • Oh! Also meant to compliment you on your highly accurate history and setting the right context inside our increasingly Theocratic nation.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Professor Taboo — June 21, 2018 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

      • Thang you, thang you very much …

        On Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 12:45 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Steve Ruis — June 21, 2018 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • I am right there with you, but I am afraid it is we who are the deviants *from the norm* here. It is much more normal to think in religious groupthink terms than it is to not do so. I have relatives and acquaintances who are thoughtful, intelligent people who think this way. I still have to watch my tongue in “polite company” to avoid undue offense (when offense is due, then I can be unleashed … uh, no, I am more of a “forgive them they know not what they do” type … the residue of 40 years as a classroom teacher I suspect, or the character flaw that got me into that position).

      I am looking forward to the next issue of Scientific American as they are taking on how to change the thinking of science deniers. I think this applies directly to changing the thinking of reality deniers, too.

      On Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 12:43 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 21, 2018 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

      • Steve, and I too am right there with you on both those counts — raised by an Agnostic father (also a mechanical engineer & USMC Lcpl) and was made sure I had a solid science curriculum, primarily for occupational reasons in my future. And on my maternal family side way too many Christian Texas rednecks POORLY educated (few finished high school!) but all from Church of Christ and Pentecostal (Pastor Mel) deep brainwashings. So I know exactly what you mean about “respect” around family. :/

        Oooooo! That should be a great next issue! Now, we just need to somehow get all this high quality education around the rest of the world, mainly 2.5 world and 3rd world nations, huh? LOL

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Professor Taboo — June 21, 2018 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  2. Many people may be unaware the Apartheid Government in South Africa had the support NGK church in South Africa who also cited the bible as justification for Apartheid.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Arkenaten — June 21, 2018 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

    • Sorry Ark… NGK? Should I Google it? …

      Well, I Googled it and got NGK Spark Plugs SA. They started throwing spark plugs at Africans? Ahhhhh, they were actually incidenary spark plugs, huh? Blow-up upon ignition… ruining thousands of bonnets!


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Professor Taboo — June 21, 2018 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

      • Just kidding sir. Bad joke when talking about actual lives. Forgive me. In a fiesty and yet still UTTER SHOCK about what happened between Croatia v. Argentina. No excuse!


        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Professor Taboo — June 21, 2018 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

      • The Dutch Reformed Church (Afrikaans: Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, abbreviated NGK)

        Smart Arse. 😉

        The Church supported Apartheid[4][5] and in 1982 was expelled from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches which declared Apartheid to be a sin.[6] In 1986 during the General Synod the church changed its stance on Apartheid and opened its doors to people of all races[7] (the Andrew Murray ministry within the Dutch Reformed Church, since its inception, had its doors open to people of different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities). After various processes the Church has been accepted back into the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

        – Wiki-

        Liked by 3 people

        Comment by Arkenaten — June 22, 2018 @ 6:00 am | Reply

    • That bible is an amazing book. You can justify anything using it. Often two different positions opposing each other at the same time. That again shows it is a man made politic tool. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Scottie — June 21, 2018 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  3. Man, you really got to like that old holly buy-bull. Seriously. You can cheery pick from now till the end of time and find some crap verse or partial verse to verify your personal bullshit theory.
    Oh, I don’t live in Fla. Been there once on the way back from Vieques. It was 1972 and the USMC and the Navy were still screwing that poor little island. We stopped in Fart Lauderdale on our way back to Nawth Cakalack. I never left the boat. Yeah, I should call it a ship, but the only reason the Marines used the Navy for taxi service was it kept our boots dry. I live in central Loosey Annie, where we lose at least one football sized portion of land ever day. Or is it every hour, either way, we lose one hell of a huge bit of land every day. Oh and where the Mississippi enters the Gulf, there is the largest dead zone in the entire hemisphere if nit the globe.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — June 22, 2018 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

    • Since I could be considered one of them northern elites … Florida … Looosiana, whatever. :o)

      I have heard your home state is beautiful but I am allergic to hot weather mixed with high humidity.

      I apologize for misplacing you, Mr. Vice President!

      On Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 2:59 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 23, 2018 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  4. Nuts. I meant to say cherry pick, but I suppose the buy-bu;ll thumpers do pick the verses cheerily. Too old to start proof reading now….(smirk)

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — June 22, 2018 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

    • I understood. If I had a dollar for every one of my typos I could have retired years earlier.

      On Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 3:03 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 23, 2018 @ 11:11 am | Reply

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