Question: Could you please address the views of some who believe that Christians shouldn't smuggle Bibles, Christian literature, or printing presses into restricted nations? They also seem to feel that believers shouldn't meet in unregistered or home churches. The reason for this belief is that they are breaking the laws of those nations, disobeying the Bible's command to obey authorities.
Response: Romans:13:1 tells us, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." God has ordained for there to be civil authorities over human affairs to execute His righteousness, to punish evildoers--and they "bear not the sword in vain" (Rom:13:4). Of course, many rulers have not upheld God's moral laws.
The passage clearly tells us to be subject to the "higher powers." There is no higher power than God, and there are times where God must be obeyed despite the command of the authorities. The apostles were reminded, "Did not we straightly command you that you should not teach in this name?...Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts:5:28-29).
There are earlier examples. The midwives were told by Pharaoh to kill all baby boys at birth (Ex 1:16). The midwives did not do so, and the Lord commended their actions (Ex 1:20-21).
Daniel knew that King Darius had signed a decree forbidding any petition (including prayer) to anyone other than the king:
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Dn 6:10)
Any such disobedience, however, would have consequences. Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, but the Lord "hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me" (Dn 6:22).
In like manner, those who engage in Bible smuggling and similar activities will also be subject to consequences should they be caught by the authorities of these respective countries. Consider another biblical example:
If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace....But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Dn 3:17-18)
During World War II, Corrie Ten Boom and her family preserved the lives of Jews contrary to the will of the authorities. Those who smuggle Bibles are bringing the Word of Life to those without Bibles. Concerning illegal house churches, we must remember that the early church took precautions:
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst...." (Jn:20:19)