Do What You’re Told

If you follow sports you may have heard about the two Texas high school football players who tackled a referee during a game on September 4th. Here is the video showing one of them blindside him and the other dive on him after he hits the ground.

Both players were suspended from school and could possibly face assault charges. They have since apologized but insist that they were only following orders from one of their coaches. During an interview with Good Morning America they said that coach Mack Breed pulled them aside and told them that the ref needed “to pay” for cheating them. Along with the supposed bad officiating, the referee has also been accused of making racial slurs during the game. HERE is a story giving more details.

My question is this. Are there times when we should follow orders even if they may violate our own personal beliefs? I recently preached from Romans 13 where it talks about being submissive to those who are in authority. That sermon came the week after a Kentucky Clerk of Court refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and ended spending some time in jail. The question came up then and this story about the football players brings it back up. Where do we draw the line?

Throughout history there have stories where soldiers had to choose whether or not to obey orders that violated their consciences. I have read the testimonies of Nazis who insisted that they were not guilty of all the atrocities they committed because they were just following orders. I have heard many people talk about doing things for their jobs (not on the level of genocide) that they personally objected to. Some people do stand up and say that they cannot go along with it, but others, like these two football players, claim that they were just doing what they were told.

Where does personal responsibility enter the picture? Are we justified for morally objectionable behavior simply because we are following orders? Do we take a stand and suffer the consequences because we answer to a higher authority? It’s something to think about.

Grace and peace.

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