Obey the law!

The whole country is watching Ferguson Missouri at the moment. The actions of a few are absolutely despicable. Before I begin writing some of the information that I have gleaned and my opinion on the whole situation, I would like to quote from the Scriptures. I believe this is fitting for the current situation.

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. (Romans 13)

At the time that this was written, the local authorities consisted of the Roman Empire, and likely, the Emperor Nero. They were pagans, not really interested in the ways of God. We cannot pick and choose which laws and lawgivers we want to obey. There is one “out” so to speak, if the laws and lawgivers require us to act out against the Word of God. If the law of the land asks me to murder or commit adultery then I must obey God and not the local authorities. When the local authorities and their laws do not contradict the Word of God, I must submit.

God has ordained our authority figures and He has done it in such a way that those in authority will give an account to Him for their service. Their job is to serve the people whom they govern. How do they do it? They are to protect the innocent from those who break the law. Those who do evil and break the law of the land are to be punished. If you want not to fear authority then do what is right and you will be praised. If you do what is wrong, you should fear authority because they are to punish you for your actions. When those who do evil are not punished, they are encouraged to prey on the innocent.

Having written all of that, now I would like to turn to the Michael Brown fiasco. Here are the facts about the case:

  • Michael Brown was an 18 year old grown man.
  • Michael Brown had an illegal drug in his system at the time of his death.
  • Michael Brown had just robbed a store.
  • Michael Brown attacked a police officer.

Let’s count up the number of crimes (evil – breaking the law) that were committed by this person (it does not matter what race he is). I have counted 3, what about you? So, according to Romans 13, should Michael Brown been afraid of the authorities? Yes. Should he have been punished? Yes. The question that arises is, “his actions did not warrant being shot did they?”. In order to answer that question, I would like to provide some facts about what happens to police officers in the line of duty on a yearly/daily basis. Remember, they are there to uphold the law which implies protecting the innocent from those who do evil (break the law). These are stats from 2012 on law enforcement officers who were killed or assaulted while in the line of duty.

Of the 49 officers, 15 were killed in ambushes; nine were killed during  traffic stops or while in pursuit; five were killed in drug-related incidents; five were killed responding to a robbery; four were killed while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; three were killed responding to domestic disturbance calls; and two each were killed while attempting an arrest, responding to a disturbance call, or from accidental shootings.  One officer was killed responding to a burglary in progress and one was killed during an investigative activity.

Those were the deaths. These are the officers who were assaulted.

54,774 officers were assaulted in the line of duty

Since officers face these dangerous situations on a daily basis, should they assume that a perpetrator does or does not have a weapon? Do the lives of the officers not matter? The criminal has already set himself up to be punished because he or she is breaking the law of the land (practicing evil). Also, the Romans passage shows that the authority has a weapon and is expected to use it to protect himself and the innocent people in society from those who break the law.

Am I sad that Michael Brown lost his life? Of course I am sad. All life is valuable. Should I continue to respect the officer who shot Mr. Brown? Yes. He was doing his job, investigating a situation where criminal activity had taken place. Could Michael Brown have avoided an altercation with the officer? Yes. How? By not breaking the law. If you do not break the law then you are protected by the authorities and have no reason to fear them. They are servants of God placed there to protect you.

I’m praying for the police officers who put their lives on the line last night and who put their lives on the line daily to protect the innocent from those who practice evil. I am thankful to God that He teaches us how to live on a daily basis. His Word really is relevant to every situation in life. May the Lord help us all.

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