(Biblical) Justice leads To Peace (Some Thoughts Concerning Yesterday's Events At The Capitol)
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Yesterday's events that took place in Washington DC as it related to the protest that turned destructive and violent were unconscionable and reprehensible. There was even a young woman who had lost her life in the middle of the chaos and Washington D.C. was on lockdown for most of the day and in the evening. All of these events that transpired yesterday had their roots and genesis from all of the events that occured last year.
The seeds of these events had taken place with a man by the name of George Floyd. He was arrested by the police for drug intoxication (Fentanyl). One of the police officers involved in an attempt to subdue the man had placed his knee on the neck of George Floyd for 9 minutes. After this incident George Floyd had died and this sparked a wide range of protest all over the country. Most of these protest were citizens who were concerned about the extreme measures that the police were taking and had came out to express their discontentment about this. However, over time these protests began to slowly be co-opted into into riots and chaos all over the country. In Washington State, people had set up "autonomous zones" that were preventing law enforcement from bringing order into this region. There began a "defund the police" movement that was sparked thoughout the country. As a result, there was crime that increased in some of these cities that slashed their police budgets.
Futhermore, when it came to reporting these riots over the summer (usually that occured by a group known as Antifa) there was special preference in the way that these riots were reported. In some cities, governing officials told the police officers to stand down from interviening against looters and rioters. Some of riots were written off by reporters as "firey, but mostly peaceful protests." News anchors that were challenging the First Amendment to the Consitution concerning assembling for protesting. There were even riots that took place last summer at the nations Captiol was met with a night of protest that was stated by some as honest "civil disobedience." for racism. In addition, there were others who not only made excuses for these various destructive acts that took place over the course of these months there were some who were actually promoting this activity. Consider some of the reasoning of the tweets that were released promoting some of this destructive activity as a social cause:
The riots of the summer of 2020 and the destruction of private property was overlooked and the excuse was made that the people who were acting this way were freedom fighters, and those who were addressing greivances concerning the mistreatment from governing authorities. Now we fast forward to the January 6th, 2021 where a group of individuals who damaged and destoryed federal property were not given the same concessions as those who rioted over the summer, but instead were called seditionists, and insurrectionists. One such newspaper envoked the founding fathers of the country had stated that the people who stormed the Capitol building would be known as traitors. It would appear that some people, according to their worldview, apply different standards to one group of people than to another group of people. One group is justified to destroy other's property, and even Washington DC for another group's cause, however another group who these people find unfavorable do the a very similar thing, they do not get the same justification as the other group.
The Biblical worldview as much to say about this destructive behavior, and the role of governing authorities. Paul who wrote to the people in Rome after reminding them about the instruction and the promises of God penned the following
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. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 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; 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. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. (Rom. 13:1-7 NASB)
Paul stated that every person (Christian or otherwise) is to place themselves willingly (hypotasso) under governing authorities. Paul gives the reason why: 1) They are established by God and the source of all governing authorites is God. Furthermore, those who oppose governing authorities oppose the institution that God has established. Paul then expresses the condemnation concerning a particular type of opposition: That rulers (archon), are to serve those who they are governing over by rewarding good behavior and punishing evil behavior (kakos). This is the entire point of governing authorities. In fact, Paul highlights this point when he mentions that governing authorities do not bear the sword in vain (v. 4), and that they are servants/ministers (diakonos) of God, and are the one to punish (ekdikos) those who do evil as a defense for those who exhibiting good behavior.
There are several observations to note concerning this particular passage of Scripture:
1) These verses also tell the reason why people willing submit themselves to governing authorites because governing authorities reward good and punish evil. If and when a governing authority misuses their authority to subjugate those who engage in good behavior, this should not be tolerated, and people have should protest peacefully (I mean "peacefully" in the truest sense of course). Yes, protests that are peaceful to expose a greivance against those who use their authority to avenge in an unlawful way and calling for their removal from this position if proven true is a good thing, because these people who had been given the authority to serve and protect those who are conducting themselves rightly were misuing their authority.
2) There should never be a movement to defund governing authorites, but to support those who conduct themselves well. Paul, continuing his discourse in chapter 13 mentioned this is the reason why tribute (or taxes) were paid because those who were given this authority were to commit themselves to the responsibility of punishing the evil doer (v. 6-7). As those governing authorites who reward evil and punish good are to be spoken out against, those governing authorities who are act in the manner that is consistent with the Biblical worldview should be honored.
3) The same standard should be applied to any group that commits evil behavior. The word for evil in this text is used twice (v. 4), and describes the type or manner of action that is being committed. The word highlights actions that are injurious or destructive to others. This behavior should not be tolerated on any level, or in any place. Our leaders, from teaching elders and shepherds in local churches, to government leaders who are to serve their constituents, and everyone inbetween should not make excuses, promote, endorse, or justify the destruction of any property or person by any other group. To do so is to endorse evil behavior, and as a result fuels chaos.
There is plenty of shame to go around. It is a shame what happened at the United States Captiol yesterday. It is a shame of what happened in places like Kenosha Wisconsin, and Washington State. It is a shame that those who are influential in society, and even some government officials display personal favortism to one group justifying their destruction of private property and person instead of condemning both groups. For those who adopt the Biblical worldview in order for peace to endure there must be justice. Perhaps in addition for praying for the peace of God as believers we should petition the Lord for governing authorites who understand these principles. In doing this we ensure peace exists, for all individuals.
Until next time...
Soli Deo Gloria!