Cal  Thomas

The Terri Schiavo case has been a perfect media storm and an object lesson.

For the media, it served as a metaphor for much of what divides us: pro-life vs. pro-choice; religious vs. secular; wife vs. husband vs. parents/in-laws; church vs. state.

Many religious leaders (and certain members of Congress) at first distinguished themselves by standing on principle and appealing to the state to preserve Terri Schiavo's life. But a few called for defiance of authority, suggesting Florida officials disobey court orders, "rescue" Terri from her hospice bed and reinsert her feeding tube.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday that agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park they were going to conduct such an operation. The newspaper said agents backed down rather than confront local police outside the hospice. Certain people seem to be arguing that only those laws and judicial rulings with which they agree are to be obeyed. That invites anarchy.

Some of those calling for the law to be disobeyed were ordained clergy, which is especially troubling.

What do these ordained men mean by encouraging people to break the law? Have they not read, or taken seriously, Romans 13, the chapter in which Paul, the Apostle, says, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

The footnote in the New International Version reminds the reader that the "governing authorities" at the time these verses were written were probably pagans and Paul said to submit to them anyway. That's difficult to get around, especially for those who take the Bible seriously, if not literally.

Should Gov. Jeb Bush have defied the courts and ordered that Terri Schiavo be "rescued"? Perhaps he had such authority, perhaps not. But that does not give people, especially Christians, the right to rebel against judicial authority. Only when they are ordered to stop preaching the Gospel are they permitted to disobey. They can, and should, work within the system to change judges and the way laws are interpreted.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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