When it comes to the question of when we should or should not obey civil authorities, our default must be obedience (Rom 13:1). That said, we live in a complex world in which we also must not do evil. To make sense of this complexity, I propose that we use these four distinctions to guide our moral reasoning for when we should follow the default of obedience and when we might need to disobey an evil requirement.
- Obeying civil authorities is good.
- Civil authorities can require good, or neutral actions. We should obey.
- Civil authorities can themselves do evil structurally, which we should lobby against.
- Civil authorities can require us to do evil, which we should resist.