Recently, I have had a little doubt about the exact meaning of the following passage which is Romans 13:1-7:
1Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.
2Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.
3For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority. Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it,
4for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
6This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
I am just very confused with this. Usually, if I have a question about the exact meaning of a passage, I can find some good commentary or something similar online that clarifies any questions, but I couldn’t find anything satisfactory for this passage. Unless I am missing something, it seems as if it is saying that God puts ALL governments in power, and if we oppose them in any way, we are sinning and rebelling against God. However, doesn’t that then mean that Gandhi and Thoreau sinned when they peacefully disobeyed the government. Thoreau didn’t pay his taxes in protest of the extremely unjust Mexican-American war, and, to me, this seems like something just and right, since we are called to oppose war and fight for peace in every case. Yet, according to Paul, Thoreau sinned by doing this because the US government that fought the war was put there by God.
Furthermore, in the United States abortion is allowed even though we are sharply opposed to it. We are so opposed to it that there is the pro-life march each year in protest of it. Yet, according to Paul, the government, who ruled that abortion is fine, was put there by God so opposing it as we do is a sin.
Maybe I am missing something here or maybe there is some exegetical explanation for this. Thanks ahead of time.