Romans 13:1-7 and Christian obedience
I would like to first post the verses in question:
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.
7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
It is beyond dispute that many governments have persecuted and killed Christians; the Nazi government and the Communist governments of China and Russia murdered Christians and actively tried to control and in some cases eliminate Christianity.
In what ways should Romans 13 be read and applied? Can these verses be used to justify non-action and even cowardice when it comes to Christians and their approach to their government and it's mandates? Are we culpable in governmental atrocities when we do not speak out and disobey?