Mike Pence appears to be anomaly. President Donald Trump tried to get his Vice President Mike Pence to break the law and make a contribution to overthrowing the U.S. government by refusing to recognize the certification of the Electoral College results, in which Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. And while Biden was about to perform that formality, Trump incited a riot against the Capitol where Pence and all 535 members of Congress were gathered for that official proceeding. Trump incited them in a simultaneous speech before a large crowd gathered one mile away on that fateful day of January 6th, 2021.
Trump then tweeted minutes later, at 2:24 PM, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” meaning to reject the certification. That helped incite the rioters at the Capitol, many of whom had cell phones and knew what Trump tweeted. Indeed, rioters were chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” Pence afterwards admitted that President Trump “endangered me and my family.” Some of those rioters have now admitted that they would have killed Mike Pence if they had had the opportunity.
Yet Mike Pence has constantly defended Trump over the past two years. Yesterday, after the Special Committee investigating the Capitol riot held its last televised meeting and recommended that the Justice Department indict and prosecute Trump, Pence said concerning Trump’s actions during those days, “I think the president’s actions and words on Jan. 6 were reckless, but I don’t know that it’s criminal to take bad advice from lawyers.” Pence added that he hoped the Justice Department does not indict and prosecute Trump for such actions.
Wow! Even if lawyers very clearly advise you to break the law? That statement sure seems naive to me. I guess Mike Pence doesn’t believe in what President Harry Truman is known for saying while sitting in the Oval Office, “The buck stops here.”
Pence explained, “I think it would be terribly divisive in the country at a time when the American people want to see us heal.” Oh, so the way to heal is to not enforce the law. As for being divisive, most Americans like their democracy with its Constitution that protects their freedoms. If we don’t enforce our laws, we’re liable to wind up with an autocracy, which is what Trump seems to have preferred, but only if he’s the autocrat.
Pence added, “At this time of year, we’re all thinking about the most important things in our lives; our faith, our family.” He obviously refers to our holiday of Christmas. That’s pretty shallow thinking, if you ask me. Plus, all Americans are not Christians.
Why has Pence defended Trump since Trump endangered his life? I wonder if media reporters are missing an important question to ask Pence. I blogged in June this year, “What Does Mike Pence Believe about Romans 13?” Romans 13:1-7 is an important passage in the Bible in the apostle Paul advises Christians at Rome to obey civil authorities. I’ve been a evangelical Christian all my life, and I know that many evangelicals like Mike Pence are wrongly taught, or just believe themselves, that Romans 13.1-7 indiscriminately says we are to obey all civil authorities no matter what they require us to do. I believe that is quite wrong.
Paul’s first sentence in Romans 13 pretty sums up vv. 1-7, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” Would Paul have told German Christians that when Hitler and his Nazi party governed? No way! Paul is merely teaching a general principle that does not apply to every situation in history. This is the problem with the application of scripture. It can be both under=applied or over-applied.
Roman Catholic New Testament (NT) scholar Joseph A. Fitzmyer has written one of the best commentaries on the NT book of Romans. In his comments on Romans 13 he states, “Paul’s discussion of the relation of Christians to civil authorities, nevertheless, remains on the level of general principles. . . . The passage has created a major problem in modern theological discussion because Paul’s teaching has at times been invoked to justify any sort of human government. . . . Paul is not discussing in exhaustive fashion the relation of Christians to governing authorities.”
Fitzmyer cites Hitler, Mussolini, and Pilate as examples of governing gone wrong. Some may object by saying God’s plan involved Pilate crucifying Jesus so he would be our sin-bearing Savior. Indeed it did. But Christians who make this objection about Pilate usually don’t understand how humans can so disobey God and yet God may use that to accomplish his purposes, yet that divine plan does not absolve the evil person from guilt for such wrongdoing.
A close analysis of Romans 13.1-7 reveals that Paul most certainly did not teach indiscriminate governing leading to “might makes right.” For instance, Paul writes, “Rulers are not a terror good conduct.” Indeed, that’s the way it usually is, but not always. But, as Fitzmyer states, Paul is not writing a full treatise on obedience to civil authorities. For, Paul concludes his remarks in this passage by saying, “Pay to all what is due them, . . . respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
So, were Christians in Germany supposed to honor Hitler by exposing hidden Jews to the Gestapo–the Nazis’ official police who searched out Jews to send them to concentration camps and perhaps death merely because they were Jews. No way, and the apostle Paul, a Jew, would have heartily agreed.
Thus, it is a sad misapplication of Romans 13.1-7 to subscribe to governing authorities who demand disobedience to righteous behavior. Instead, we Christians should all be like the apostles Peter and John who, when the Jewish Sanhedrin had them arrested for preaching Jesus, and then interrogated them and ordered them to stop such preaching, they said, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge” (Acts 4.19).
I wonder if Mike Pence understands this. I think the media should ask him. Maybe that’s what makes him such anomaly.