The apostle Peter was pretty clear about our duty to submit to our political rulers.
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1 Pet. 2:13-17).
In the first place, we should do what he says. In the second place, we should remember that Peter was no hypocrite, and he is the same man who broke out of jail (Acts 12:7-11), and in a fashion that caused the guards to lose their lives, and who disappeared from the book of Acts a wanted man (Acts 12:17).
This is why we compare Scripture with Scripture — not to catch out inconsistencies in God’s Word, but rather to catch the places where we may have jumped to conclusions about what one passage in isolation might mean.
In this fallen world, no human authority should be absolute. No human authority can be absolute, and to make the attempt to treat it as such is disobedience to God. Because our duty is never to disobey God, this means that we sometimes have the duty of disobedience down here. Now God has established three governments among men — that of the church, the civil magistrate, and the family. Each one of them has genuine authority, and in each case the limits of that authority are established by God. This means that we must disobey sometimes in each one of these areas.
In conservative theological circles, the government where we most commonly overlook this is the government of the family. If we teach the headship of the husband (and we do, without apology), and we also teach the submission of the wife (which we also do, again without apology), it is easiest thing in the world for critics of headship and submission to claim that we are saying that men are somehow absolute, and their rule in the home to be unquestioned.
This is far from the truth, and here is an example, taken from the early chapters of Acts.
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” (Acts 5:1-11).
Now what was the sin of Sapphira here? Why did she lose her life? The sin she committed here, in Peter’s words, was the sin of agreeing with her husband. And when she came in to speak with Peter, not knowing her husband was dead, her moral duty at that point was to expose her husband by confessing the sin.