“THE powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1. “The powers that be” represent civil government. In a fallen world, civil government—a government of force—is a necessity.
But civil government is not the only or the most important thing ordained of God for this world. Before civil government arose, it was ordained that fallen man should be restored to his lost estate by a plan of redemption—the gospel.
This was because “God is love,” and the salvation of man—the object of that love—was in the sight of God the thing of primary importance.
There are then, in the world, two governments, both ordained of God; namely, civil government—a government of force—and a government of love, which is operative upon the earth through the gospel.
The government of love is God’s government; for “God is love.” This was ordained of God from the beginning, and must always continue, so long as the character of God remains what it is. Civil government, being not of love but of force, was not thus ordained, but became a necessity on account of sin.
These two governments being in the world, both  ordained of God, it is evident that in the purpose of God they are to operate in harmony with each other.
The gospel—the government of love—demands that pardon be accorded the penitent transgressor. The government of force demands that the transgressor be punished, whether penitent or not. It is evident therefore that if these two governments are made to cover common ground, they will come into immediate conflict with each other.
This is why it is that civil government and religion must be kept separate. When civil government is carried into the sphere of religion, it begins at once to antagonize the work of the gospel.
God wants every person on the earth to form an upright character. And as character stands for free personal choice, it is necessary that man should not be coerced into the path of uprightness, but should be left free to choose between right principles and those of a contrary nature.
It is not the business of civil government, therefore, to coerce men into doing right; to force them into the paths of morality. In so doing it would only antagonize the gospel. Its sphere is limited to that of natural rights. To protect these is the only prerogative of force.