I'm currently playing a Paladin in a table top game and thought I'd take this opportunity to revisit the subject for a little clarification.
My Paladin just reached 2nd level and . . . Eureka! He can now perform Lay on Hands. So, just as a reminder; from whence comes this ability? From the "mortal" king he serves? Or from the God he serves? I believe we can agree that no "mortal" king with whom we are familiar can grant such powers to their knights.
Just yesterday I was reading "The Knights of the Crown," published in 1987, and was pleased to discover another publication that – several times – stresses the difference between "strictly religious bodies . . . and . . . a body of lay knights." And so we again find real world references that distinguish between knights of the church and knights serving a king.
I wanted to stress – again – the difference between Paladins – knights serving the church – and "lay knights" – those who serve a mortal king – to make a further point in my use of Paladins. All knights which serve a church are Paladins, plain and simple. Titles, such as Paladin, anti-Paladin, Blackguard, Crusader, etc., are simply "names" bestowed upon these knights by their individual church. To the common people they are all knights which serve a church and they are called Paladins. All religious knights are Paladins . . . and they are all Lawful.
What? Wait! Did I just say that they are all Lawful? Yes, I did. Remember, Paladins serve the God to whose service they are sworn, not an "earthly" king. That "Paladin" that just murdered an entire village of halflings is Lawful. You see, you must take into consideration that he/she is a Paladin of . . . Tharizdun. Tharizdun wanted that village destroyed and the halflings murdered. Thus, this particular Paladin obeyed the laws of his/her god. Ergo, the Paladin is Lawful.
As you can imagine, this creates some interesting conversations at the gaming table. But I extend the courtesy to other DMs that these same people – as players – do not extend to me . . . the DM is always correct. Unfortunately, I find myself gaming with DMs who are very limited in scope. They simply cannot "leave" the books. An original thought is completely beyond their abilities.
At any rate, I thought I'd throw this view out there to see what responses it might illicit. We'll see. But, as I said, this all goes towards my view that Paladins are knights of the church and serve their respective God/Goddess first and always. Any "kingly" authority must take second place to that.