God's Servant for Your Good: Part 3, Political Theology in a Land of 911

To get where I'm coming from in this post it is essential that you watch Gary Haugen's TED Talk about the Locust Effect that I posted yesterday. Please wait to weigh in if you haven't taken the time to watch that video.

Again, in this series I'm struggling with my feelings about Romans 13, where Paul describes the nation state as "God's servant for your good" because the nation state does not "bear the sword in vain" as "the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer."

As an anarchist-Anabaptist leaning pacifist that text from Romans 13 gives me a lot of heartburn. In my political theology I've tended to see the principalities and powers, the nation state chief among them, as a force of wickedness in the world rather than as God's servant for our good.

But Gary Haugen's TED Talk about the locust effect, about the plague of everyday violence the poor face in the world, especially women, sent me into a deep, deep think about Romans 13.

What really struck me in Gary Haugen's talk was the 911 call, the terror and vulnerability we'd face if 911 suddenly was unavailable, as it is in much of the world, especially for women.

Worldwide, what happens when there is a vacuum of law enforcement? Thugs take over. The strong take advantage of the weak. Without 911 you have the locust effect, the plague of everyday violence that ruins all our charitable attempts to help the poor throughout the world, especially women.

What interrupted me about Gary Haugen's TED Talk is that I do my political theology in a land of 911. I rant and rage about "empire" in a land where it is taken for granted that a woman, if faced with a violent intruder, can call 911.

So what I'm struggling with is the social location of my political theology.

In a land of 911, am I missing how Romans 13 would sound to a woman in a failed state in Africa, vulnerable to the violent thugs in her remote village?

Would that woman, if she lived in a land of 911, endorse Paul's claim that the sword of the state is God's servant for our good?

And if she would, if she would experience Romans 13 and a land of 911 as "good news," then does not the preferential option for the poor tell me that I must adopt her reading of Romans 13 rather than my own?

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