In a discussion with Gen Xers about obeying government authority, I pointed to Romans 13:1-5 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, both written during oppressive Roman rule. (One writer says that Rome at this time is “alternately described as the glorious crowning achievement of mankind and as the sewer of the universe.”) Paul, who wrote Romans, experienced all kinds of real and unfair persecution from Roman authorities. And Peter died during the reign of the notorious Emperor Nero.
That makes it especially significant that these instructions are to obey the government authorities. You’d think if there ever was a time not to, this would be it. Some of the purpose of following the government rules seems to be indicated by 1 Peter 2:15, to “silence ignorant talk.” If God’s people were accused of trying to overthrow/betray/undermine the government/the law of the land (as is recorded in several places to have happened), their law-abiding behavior would at least afford no evidence of that. And Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, and others even rose to some power in hostile environments through their general humility and obedience.
The line seems (to me) to be drawn when there would be an outright violation of God’s commands. In other words, paying taxes, etc., causes a mere inconvenience to or deprivation for the person. (And anyway, even being overtaxed can’t stop the God factor—when God steps in for his children and messes with the math.) But, for example, in Exodus 1, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill any newborn boys, but they didn’t. And the three guys in Daniel 3 wouldn’t obey the king’s orders to worship a statue. That sort of thing.
There are multiple places in the Bible where it’s clear that God used the pagan governments in spite of themselves (and without their even realizing that they weren’t really in control; they were so arrogant!). For example, Jeremiah 25:9 names Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar and Isaiah 45:1 names Persian King Cyrus as God’s instruments…But eventually God had them overthrown. In other words, he only let them (and others like them) go so far.
So that’s how I look, big picture, at bearing with the bad civil rules that are mixed in with a lot of good ones. Those ultimately can’t really hurt me because I’m obeying the Lord Almighty who’s truly in charge.