When the children were young, they needed to learn to obey without questioning why because they were not mature enough to make wise decisions. But now that they are growing older, they need to develop their own understanding of why certain actions are inappropriate. They need to learn to think through situations so that they can make good choices when we are not there to guide them. The same is true of Christians and submission to authority. While God calls us to submit to authority (Rom. 13:1-5), we also need to discern when authority is correct in demanding our obedience.
The Christian, of course, must make sure he does not confuse such subordination to imposed discipline with blind unthinking submission to the wishes and options of everyone around him. … Even that submission which Christian wives are to manifest toward unsaved husbands, and which is an acid test of the wife’s spiritual maturity, is not to be interpreted as requiring obedience to demands which violate her conscience as a Christian. … [Christians] must learn to draw the line before proper assimilation of imposed discipline becomes extinction of private thinking and personal initiative.
Richard S. Taylor, The Disciplined Life, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1962), 45.
Our Lord Jesus and the apostles taught submission to the government, but even they saw their need to disobey when what was demanded was not in line with what God required for them to do. Think of Peter and John’s civil disobedience to the wishes of the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1-22). They didn’t intentionally look for ways to disobey their government. But at the same time, they thought through their “act of disobedience” and saw that their loyalty to God’s command required disobedience to what the government was then requiring. In the end, each of us has to learn both to submit to authority and to think through each action.
See also my earlier post on Civil Disobedience