For every passage in the bible about submitting to authority, there’s another passage about a prophet calling out the authorities. Jesus Christ, himself, was crucified for subverting religious and political authorities. At the very beginning of the Exodus story, a group of midwives disobey a king’s cruel policy targeting children.

These are the kinds of biblical stories that informed Angelina Grimké when she became one of the very few white southern women to openly support the cause of abolition. In her “Appeal to Christian Women of the South” written in 1836, she states: “If a law commands me to sin I will break it …The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians.”

There is no divine mandate requiring us to accept an unjust policy or law. But, some might ask, how do we differentiate a just law from an unjust law? Who decides? That was a question King addressed with the following principle, “a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself.” It’s the golden rule writ large.