In a thread concerning Rosa Parks, some of the discussion has centered on the proper interpretation and application of Romans 13:1-7. I am starting a new thread, hoping to remove the discussion from an emotionally charged atmosphere and to focus on the Bible rather than events. My experience and reading is perhaps not as broad as others, but, unless I am mistaken, I have not heretofore run across the idea that these passages meant anything other than obedience to civil authority. That does not invalidate another interpretation, but it makes it suspect in my book. The immediate text itself appears to support this view. 1. The scope is not limited to Christians: Though the letter itself is written to Roman Christians, Paul states, "Let EVERY SOUL be subject unto the higher powers." (or, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities." ESV) 2. Government is authorized or appointed by God: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God" (or, "whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed" ESV). 3. This authority spoken of bears the sword: "he beareth not the sword in vain" (or, "But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain." ESV) 4. This authority spoken of is an avenger or revenger: "...he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." (or, "For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." ESV). The little child of God is not an avenger, but waits on God to meet out justice: "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19) 5. This authority spoken of receives tribute or taxes: "For for this cause pay ye tribute also..." (or, "For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God..." ESV). This harmonizes with Jesus' instructions in Matthew 22:17-21. The church and its officers are not a taxing entity. Other verses that speak to the subject include: Titus 3:1,2 and I Peter 2:13-17. Human government is a divine institution; anarchy is a creation of man. In Paul's thought here, obedience hinges on two main things: the external consequences of disobedience and the internal conscience. I see no reason to doubt that Paul means the institution of human government which is ordained by God. There may be a wide range of opinions for practically applying this teaching, but are there any reasons to doubt this is the teaching?