Do Christians have to submit to governing authorities? The answer is a yes and no. What if the governing authorities are ungodly and require ungodly things from their people? Looking at what scripture says regarding government submission will help clarify this particular confusing topic.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1). Besides the theory that this verse was not of Paul, but added later during Constantine; lets keep in the realm that Paul did write this. Is every governing authority appointed by God? Yes, but also no. God is the creator of all things and sets everything in place to accomplish His will, but that does not mean that the governing authority is of God.
Take a look at Nazi Germany back in the 1940’s where Hitler was practically worshipped by the people and if you did not support the government then you would be killed. Now if the verse from Romans 13 is to be taken literally then a Christian would no longer be a Christian, but a Nazi and a servant of Hitler. Is this truly a godly command? No. There is always a dividing line of obedience as we serve God rather than man, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
If the governing authority goes away from God’s word and truth and commands differently then we have the right as a citizen of the kingdom of God to resist and not submit. Take a look at the book of Daniel where Daniel’s friends did not worship the golden idol even though it was the law, “There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:12). Later these boys were put in a fiery furnace where the angel of the Lord protected them due to their disobedience to the king, but there obedience to God.
Also later we see Daniel himself disobey the king’s law that required no praying except only to the king himself or be killed in which Daniel straightout broke, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” (Daniel 6:10).
Daniel was later thrown into the lions den, but spared by an angel of the Lord that kept the lion’s mouths shut. Therefore we should submit to governing authorities and laws, but if they pass the line of ungodly ordinances then we have a right to disobey that particular law not in rebellion, but in obedience to the Lord God. “Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” (Malachi 3:18).