God-fearing Christians sometimes feel guilt and fear to commit sedition against government and church leaders. However, it is dangerous to have extremist views, tolerating false and deceptive leaders’ heretical views about congregation’s alleged rebellion, mutiny and sedition against church authority. Let’s be like the Bereans whom Jesus praised to carefully examine some definitions, facts and scriptures to avoid being entrapped in snares again.
1. Against Government
Sedition Act is in Chapter 290 of the Statutes of Singapore, which defines:
(1) A seditious tendency is a tendency —
(a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government;
(b) to excite the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure in Singapore, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;
(c) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Singapore;
(d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore;
(e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), any act, speech, words, publication or other thing shall not be deemed to be seditious by reason only that it has a tendency —
(a) to show that the Government has been misled or mistaken in any of its measures;
(b) to point out errors or defects in the Government or the Constitution as by law established or in legislation or in the administration of justice with a view to the remedying of such errors or defects;
(c) to persuade the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure by lawful means the alteration of any matter in Singapore; or
(d) to point out, with a view to their removal, any matters producing or having a tendency to produce feelings of ill-will and enmity between different races or classes of the population of Singapore,
if such act, speech, words, publication or other thing has not otherwise in fact a seditious tendency.
(3) For the purpose of proving the commission of any offense under this Act, the intention of the person charged at the time he did or attempted to do or made any preparation to do or conspired with any person to do any act or uttered any seditious words or printed, published, sold, offered for sale, distributed, reproduced or imported any publication or did any other thing shall be deemed to be irrelevant if in fact such act had, or would, if done, have had, or such words, publication or thing had a seditious tendency.
Conclusion: #2b shows that redemptive feedback or constructive criticism to point out errors or defects in church organisation or authority figures is not deemed as seditious.
Matt 18:15-”If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
2. Against Church Leaders
We should especially be sensitive to the authority of the Church and spiritual leaders, who have specifically been assigned as representatives of Christ.
Heb 13:17-“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you”.
Christians must be cooperative with their spiritual leaders, who are charged with the responsibility to “watch for their souls.” All Christians are supposed to be under the authority of a spiritual leader. This would also mean that all believers should be a part of a local Church which has spiritual supervision by a pastor and elders.
Definition of Rebellion: “the unwillingness to be ruled by any source other than self”. It is an indiscriminate contempt toward all authority.
In the absence of Godly and moral values, there can sometimes be abuses of authority and perversions in government. Such was the case when Peter and John were forbidden to preach the Gospel by the Jewish Sanhedrin. They replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge” (Acts 4:19). The only circumstance that disobedience to authority is justifiable by scripture, is if it conflicts with the laws of God. Authority should be cooperated with except in those situations where laws depart from the basic moral and righteous principles of God’s Word.
Paul tells us to pray for all those in authority: “ I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). God can use our prayers for those in authority, to either change their heart or remove them from power entirely. God reserves the right of administering discipline and reproof to those who represent His authority (Rom. 14:4, 1 Chron. 16:21-22).
Matthew 7:1 – Do not judge, or you too will be judged. This well-known verse begins the discussion of judgmentalism. The term translated as judge, krino in Greek (separate, approve, evaluate or pronounce right or wrong, rule or govern), also implies condemnation, not just judging. In this verse Jesus warns that one who condemns others will themselves be condemned. The rest of the Bible, including the very next verse, make clear that all manner of judgment is not condemnation. Obeying Christ’s commands in this chapter does not preclude assessing another person’s basic character—whether one is a dog (v. 6) or a false prophet (v. 15), or whether one’s life shows fruit (v. 16)—since Scripture repeatedly exhorts believers to evaluate carefully.