“We must obey God rather than men…”
And thus spoke the Peter the apostle to the council, (Luke 5:29 NASB) in response to the high priest’s questioning about why he and the apostles were teaching Christ in the temple in defiance of the council’s instruction the day after an angel of the Lord released them from their prison.
And that’s the example the Christian must follow.
But in Romans 13, Paul tells us that we must be in subjection to the governing authorities.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Romans 13:1-7 (NASB)
Some of our more conservative brethren would tell us that there is little we can or should do or say in response to an abusive government because it is “established by God.” In fact, I know many of our conservative brothers and sisters who don’t even bother to follow politics at all or even vote, preferring instead to be content with being “in subjection.”
I have even seen some claim that if we so much as question the authority of our “leaders” or point out the corruptions of the politicians and government institutions that we are engaging in a spirit of rebellion; and not just rebellion against earthly authorities but against God. But is it? If we write or speak about corrupt government institutions, politicians or bureaucrats, are we acting contrary to God’s word in Romans 13?…