Thursday, July 7, 2016

Racism, Police and the Bible

You know all the news stories. You know of them all so well.
Police Shoot Unarmed Black Man

Every few months we get one of these stories that take over the news. I expect liberal non-Christians to take the side that stands in rebellion to God. What else would I expect from non-Christians? I even expect some Christians to call out the police. What I never expected was for so many reputable Christian leaders (Russell Moore, Albert Mohler and The Gospel Coalition) to be so quick to condemn those in law enforcement. 

We ALL have questions about what happened. Any reasonable person would. We don't look at a dead man and say,"ok, that's that." We all want to make certain justice is served. What reasonable and clear thinking Christians do is wait. We simply wait for the proper procedures. We wait for evidence, corroborating witnesses and we wait to make sure the officer involved followed protocol. After a reasonable amount of time we can start making some conclusions based on established facts.

Certainly, and I mean this to be condescending and harsh, a decent Christian wouldn't immediately conclude that a police officer committed a racially motivated murder. Think about that!

When you see that a police officer killed an unarmed black man and you, before the officer is even given a chance to tell his side, assume that he killed the man out of racial prejudice you are making an incredibly serious accusation. Keep in mind that many police officers are fellow believers. Do you really want to risk slandering a potential brother to score political points with the left? Really? 

Police shoot white people. A man just a mile or two from me was killed by police last year. He was white. This didn't make the news (the mainstream, big time news) because of his skin color. Blacks kill one another all the time and Russell Moore doesn't call that system out. 

There are 27 references to slander in the Bible (NASB). Some are about Christians being slandered by the world and some are about our need to cease slandering. In either case slander is a worldly virtue. Let's just look at this one verse:
2 Corinthians 12:20
20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slandersgossip, arrogance, disturbances;

Imagine the heartbreak Paul would feel to see Christians accusing other Christians of murder before any type of legitimate trial had taken place. What a devastating idea to even contemplate. We're not talking about me accusing you of hurting my feelings because of a misunderstanding. We're talking about me accusing you of singling out  a black man, abusing your authority as a God ordained enforcer of the law and taking a man's life in cold blood. And it's not that I just harbor that idea in my heart. No, I go ahead and publish it for the world to see. 

You can disagree with the protocol police use. You can disagree with the crimes people are arrested for. You can disagree with a lot of things and I'll hear you out. But I cannot tolerate Christian leaders slandering men who put their lives on the line for you and I. 

Again, no one is saying these men deserved to die. No one thinks that stealing some money, selling illegal cigarettes or CD's are crimes deserving of capital punishment. What people are saying, and it's not to be cold, is that when you do illegal things and then don't cooperate with police you take the risk of losing your life. If I broke into your house to steal a movie and had no intention of harming you, I'm not really doing anything deserving of death, right? But when I do that I'm taking the risk of you owning a firearm and shooting me because you have no idea what I'm doing at your home. 

That's not at all contingent upon anyone's ethnicity. That's all about someone reaping what they sow. You can't be surprised if you end up in trouble if you're committing a crime. 

Also, this doesn't dismiss the possibility that police officers can be guilty of abusing their power. There are corrupt teachers, businessmen, pastors, construction workers and people of all walks of life. I don't for a second believe that police officers are any more or less prone to the effects of sin and thus I'm as skeptical of them as I am of anyone else I don't really know. So of course there are bad cops. There are bad waiters, too but I don't condemn the entire food service industry as being systemically opposed to people like me. 

This is what's so troubling and concerning about the men I listed earlier. They have to know better. They have to know that in a world as sinful and depraved as ours that there are going to be serious problems at every level. There are going to be ugly messes where 2 sinful people met and the solution is neither pretty nor clear. And they really should understand that the biggest problem facing the black community isn't systemic racism. I can think of several verifiable bigger problems: 

  1. Liberal politics 
  2. Fatherlessness
  3. Lack of Godly leaders
The last one is the most important one and also the exact same reason why white communities fall into sin and why Israel fell into sin and why churches fall into sin. All 3 are connected and feed off one another but number's 1 and 2 would be less common if number 3 didn't exist. 

The way Moore and others talk about police is shockingly similar to how racist people talk about minorities. They lump all police together. They are making no efforts to hear from the police. Just last year there was a shameful conference led by many reformed Christian leaders where they talked about white privilege and systemic racism in law enforcement. Pretty serious charges to bring against the police, right? Yet they didn't have one person from law enforcement on their panels. Isn't that weird and also really irresponsible? 

The Christian community should be a clear voice here and willing to call sin what it is. If the police officers are guilty, they're guilty. If they're not, they're not. Let's please, please, please, please wait to hear both sides before we accuse men of killing a man because of his race. Why do I need to tell men with doctorates this? 

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