The sovereign citizen movement grew out of a belief in government abuses of power. Can one really become a sovereign citizen? Yes and no. Does the Bible teach earthly sovereignty for the individual? Yes and no. This short article addresses these issues primarily in the American context.
Technically, everyone born in a nation is a legal or lawful entity subject to the laws of that nation no matter what steps he takes to divorce himself from the law and become “sovereign.” Practically, one may be able to live his entire life as sovereign and never get entangled with the laws of a nation.
Some, in their attempt to become sovereign, do not get a social security number, a driver’s license, or any other government document that ties them to man’s law. American civil government, before the social security number, the driver’s license, or any other kind of license or government contract or document, considered everyone born in America to be a legal entity and so it is today. Today those who have no social security or other government number or license are considered to be citizens and legal entities. Nonetheless, one may be able to live his life as a “sovereign citizen.”
One who takes steps to become a “sovereign citizen” may, for all practical purposes, remain so because American civil government may never interfere with his life in any way. No one in America is forced to get a driver’s license or a social security number or to enter into any agreement with the civil government or with any individual or company. As long as a person controls his life so as not to interfere with or harm the rights of life, liberty, and property of any other person or entity or does interfere with the rights of others and does not get caught, the effects of being a legal or lawful entity will be nonexistent unless he is falsely accused.
If one can remain unnoticed by and outside the jurisdiction of civil government, the effects of being a legal or lawful entity will be nonexistent. Moving to the middle of the Alaskan wilderness by oneself or with one’s family may be the best choice for the man who wishes to remain sovereign. Living in the middle of New York City might work if, in addition to finding and remaining outside any civil government contracts and licenses, one finds a way to provide for himself and those, if any, to whom he is responsible and he:
- does not enter into any contract with civil government or get any government license or number;
- does not enter into and/or violate any contracts or agreements with another;
- does not harm another and get sued for so doing;
- does not commit a crime and get cited or charged and apprehended;
- does not get falsely accused of a crime and get cited or charged and apprehended;
- does not harm or interfere with another’s life, liberty, or property (or without being found out if he does so); and
- does not act legally in any way.
If anyone commits a crime, he will be charged (if police have facts which give probable cause to believe he did it). If he knowingly, intentionally, negligently (and sometimes recklessly) harms another and causes damages, the victim can file a civil suit for damages. Therefore, one is a legal entity who has, practically speaking, come under the technical definition of “legal entity.” One can choose, even though he may not do so, to enter into agreements or contracts with others. If he ever hires someone to do a job for him, he entered a contract with them to do the work. If he hired them, they did the job as agreed, and he does not pay them as agreed for their services completed, they can sue him whether he has a social security or other government number or not, whether he claims to be “sovereign” or not. One can choose to act legally or not. But one cannot choose to completely remove himself from the legal system such that he is not liable for his crimes or torts. Etc. Therefore, by definition, one is a “legal entity.”
God ordained civil government for certain purposes. He gave civil government jurisdiction over certain matters – the protection of life, liberty, and property. Without direct earthly control of man by man, as is proved by the period between the Fall and the Flood, mankind quickly becomes totally corrupted; violence fills the earth. Jesus did not fight civil government, nor did the apostles and Historic Christians (Historic Baptists by whatever name called). They did not fight it even though they always chose to obey God rather than men when man’s law contradicted God’s law and forbid them to honor God. They did not fight it although it was tyrannical and was not under God as God ordained. They obeyed God in all things and man as to those matters which did not cause them to violate God’s commandments.
God’s Word teaches that God put earthly controls, civil governments, in place to control earthly fleshly people, those who are not born again of the Spirit (not spiritual beings), and those who say that they are but are not or who say they are but walk in the flesh. Just because civil governments are corrupt and guided, for the most part, by the god of this world and his principles does not mean that one should, according to the will of God, treat civil government as having no authority. Jesus, the apostles, and authentic Christians over the last two thousand years have followed Bible teaching and honored civil government as long as civil governments and combinations of religion and state such as the Catholic/Protestant establishments did not try to force them to dishonor God’s law. When that happened, they lay down their lives for the faith rather than betray our Lord.