What does the Bible say about peaceful protesting?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: What does the Bible say about peaceful protesting? Got Questions Ministries has a very good article on rioting, but that’s not exactly what I was looking for. What are your ideas on protesting? God bless you.

Answer: The Bible does not address peaceful protesting per se. Paul’s treatise on government in Romans 13 is (in my opinion) the go-to passage for instructions on how Christians should respond to government... and its tone should carry over into every aspect of how a Christian acts as a citizen of this world. After all, we have dual citizenship (Philippians 3:20)... and we don’t want people to think badly of our homeland because of how we behave here.

That being said, I don’t think the Roman government would have seen a protest as anything less than a rebellion. So the type of protests Americans are making in response to the death of George Floyd would be of a different type... but this is because our governments are of different types. Therefore, comparing what’s happening in today’s America with what might have happened in biblical times would be a category error.

Still, the question remains: is it okay for Christians to protest the government? My opinion is yes… but with the caveat that we should maintain the civil order because we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). As such, we should always be respectful (1 Peter 3:15). But also, we are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-18) — and not to hide our lights under a bushel! But protesting in a riotous way is dark behavior — one that is unbecoming to Christians.

Also, we should be careful not to confound Peter’s teaching on civil disobedience with today’s legitimate protests. We who live under reasonable governments, not only have a right to engage in protests... but also have the responsibility to engage in them if our consciences require.

“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!”
(Acts 4:18–19, NIV)

In America, the government cannot prohibit preaching or teaching about God. This is an extraordinary right! … but it’s one that Peter did not enjoy. So, peaceful civil protest is not the equivalent to Peter’s rebellion against the anti-Christian establishment. As such, comparing these would also be a category error.

Got Questions Ministries posted an article on BibleRef.com with important information for Americans during this George Floyd crisis. Click here to access that article.

I would also like to recommend a thoughtful article by Dr. Pete Enns entitled, Is it OK for Christians to protest against their political leaders? It is a pretty comprehensive and direct answer to your question. Click here to access that article.

That’s all I have for now. I pray this helped. God bless you too!

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20200720 Should Christians participate in peaceful protests?).

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)