*Is it wrong to criticise the govt?*
A lot of Christians have a wrong understanding of what it means to submit to the govt. And in Singapore, in particular, some Christians have equated govt = PAP*, which is erroneous. The govt is formed by those people who have been elected and whose political party has won the most seats. So it can be any party, not necessarily PAP. *Remember, the govt and the ruling party are not synonymous.*
Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So Christ is supposed to be our model. In Luke 13:32, Jesus said:
_”Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”_
He referred to King Herod as a fox. This term wasn’t exactly complimentary. In fact, this was a critical term. So, did Jesus sin by not being submissive to authority? I don’t think so. If it wasn’t wrong for Jesus to criticise Herod, then it’s not wrong for us to criticise the govt.
I think some Christians are mixing up 2 different issues. All of us are supposed to submit to our govt. The Bible is very clear about this. Submission to the govt means we obey the laws. Criticising the govt does not mean that we will not submit to the govt. God expects us to submit to all authorities, including our religious authorities. And Jesus was fully aware of this. However, if you read Matthew 23, Jesus had very harsh words for the religious leaders during His time. He rebuked them publicly. He had never rebuked anyone that way, not even the woman caught in adultery.
Did Jesus have double standards? And what if you had been in the crowd that heard Jesus rebuking the religious leaders? Would you go up to Him and tell Him that He’s not supposed to speak that way about the religious leaders?
You need to ask why did Jesus rebuke the religious leaders the way He did? You want to know why? It’s because of their hypocrisy. They were teachers of the Law. So they know the Law. And they expected people to live according to the Law but they themselves were not obeying the Law and were unrepentant. Instead, outwardly they try to appear to be holy, holy, such as standing at street corners to pray (Matthew 6:5). On top of that they accused Jesus of casting out demons through the power of the devil. And even after Jesus proved to them that His power is not from the devil but from God (Matthew 12:26), they were unrepentant.
So He had no choice but to rebuke them publicly. His intention was to wake them up so that they would repent. This was Jesus’s last opportunity to rebuke them. He was going to the cross in a few days time. Do you realise that after His resurrection, Jesus did not confront the Pharisees anymore? He had said all that He wanted to say to them loud and clear. Jesus wasn’t rebellious. He was still submissive to authorities.
Apart from Jesus, do we have examples of godly people who criticised the govt/king? Of course. Look at 1 Kings 13:1-10. A prophet spoke against Jereboam, who was the king of Israel then, because of the evil that he did. John the Baptist criticised King Herod for taking his brother’s wife and that caused him his head (Mark 6:14-29).
For the last 2 examples that I mentioned, both that prophet and John the Baptist were doing those kings favours by pointing out their wrong so that they could have opportunities to repent. In fact, if we are loyal citizens, we should speak up when our govt is doing the wrong thing. James 4:17 tells us:
_So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin._
We’re all familiar with the story of the emperor who wore no clothes. If the king or govt of your nation is/are not wearing any clothes, what should you do? If you are truly loyal to your nation, you should tell him/them and not simply keep quiet. *In fact, if you fail to do so you’re actually being irresponsible and are a disloyal citizen.*
Are there biblical examples of people who failed to submit to govt or authorities? Of course. Korah together with Dathan and Abiram led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. They managed to round up a total of 250 chiefs, well-known men, to rebel against Moses and Aaron. God intervene and caused the ground to split open beneath their feet swallowing Dathan and Abiram, their families, anyone associated with Korah, and all their possessions. God also sent fire from heaven to consume the 250 chiefs (Numbers 16:1-35).
I’m not suggesting that you criticise the govt over every little thing. That would be petty and you would be quarrelsome.
What if you want to stand for election as an opposition MP? How then do you carry out your campaign? Surely you are not going to tell your voters, “Please submit to the govt and vote for them.” Of course, you need to point out govt policies that you think are wrong or that you don’t agree with. And you need to explain why you don’t agree. So you are in fact criticising the govt. Otherwise how do you carry out your campaign? But it’s important that you criticise the policies not the person.
What about voting in a General Election? You have a duty to vote wisely and responsibly (Colossians 3:17). Do not vote for someone who lacks accountability and who changes the law to cover up their mistakes and who are only interested in preserving their self-interests. But vote for someone who has the interests of the nation at heart and who is willing to speak up in Parliament on your behalf or on behalf of the nation.
So you need to differentiate between criticism and submission. They are 2 different issues. Don’t accept or reject what I say. Pray and read the Scripture passages mentioned here and let God speak to you.