What Does The Bible Say About Law Enforcement And The Police?

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What does the Bible say about law enforcement and the police?

The Law

When the Bible mentions “the law,” this concept sends us to the days of the Old Testament. The Israelites had received hundreds of different commands. “The law,” however, only refers to the first five books of the Bible and the rules described there. God’s people, His special people, should follow these rules. The difference between this law and modern laws in a secular society is obvious: these laws were established by the covenant community, not a king or tribal chief, therefore, a person who broke the law also broke the covenant, and it meant the end of their relationship with God.

Christians Persecuting Other Christians

Eye for an Eye

To rebuild their relationship with God, people would face penalties and make various sacrifices described in the Torah. For example, an “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:24-25). These are the main principles of the law, however, not every crime or sin can be compensated in such a simple manner. If a person breaks the covenant, it means death, and this requires a sheep or goat to be sacrificed.

No More Sacrifices

Christians believe that Jesus has paid the ultimate sacrifice so a Christians aren’t required to sacrifice animals anymore. Isaiah the Prophet foretold the coming of the suffering of the servant of God that would be a sufficient, complete, and full sacrifice (Isaiah 53). The Apostle Paul often contrasted the old law with the new world that became possible due to the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. Paul points out that God’s love fulfills the law (Rom 13:10), but does this mean that we are now free from any laws? Paul also answers this question by noting that we wouldn’t even see any difference between good and evil without the law guiding us (Rom 7:7).

The Old Rituals

The Old Testament Law and associated rituals of Israel are not relevant for Christians today but it doesn’t mean that we can forget about God’s commands and live a life of lawlessness. Quite the contrary, Christians should remember the price Jesus paid to fulfill the law, and that should be our strongest motivation to love God, as well as others. When it comes to loving your neighbor, that’s not an easy thing to do, but Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38-39).

The Governing Authorities

Unfortunately, not all Christians manage to live according to the principle of obeying God’s commands, but the necessity for the law is obvious. The Apostle Paul said:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience” (Rom 13:1-7).

Law Enforcement

As you can see, the governing authorities have been instituted by God. Some of us support the law enforcement community, but there are also people who refuse to call the police, even when they need help, and the reason might be is because America’s law enforcement does not always act as God’s servant, which is supposed to fight injustice for people of all color. Unfortunately, when people express support for the police, they are perceived as those who ignore people who suffer from police brutality.

Justice to the weak

The psalmist admonished us to “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4). These are the main principles the police should follow, and many police officers do, including Christians, but, there are a few police who don’t make the headlines, and the overall opinion about the police affects police officers across the country. We shouldn’t forget that the police are a group of people, and everyone in this group is different. If we condemn the whole group, we will forget about the main mission of the police and the very fact that the existing authorities have been instituted by God. When we demand justice, we should keep in mind that justice isn’t blind. Victims of police brutality deserve justice, and so do the police officers who do nothing wrong.

No Favoritism

Wise King Solomon knew that “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers” (Proverbs 21:15), so we shouldn’t put the righteous and the evildoers in the same group, condemning the whole institution. Neither should we ignore the fact that the righteous sometime suffer from the actions of the authorities. Jesus himself suffered from the Roman authorities, and so did many Christians. Perhaps, the only right way to deal with this problem is to choose a proactive approach and to demonstrate an example instead of destroying the existing order. Christians can demonstrate a good example every day by not judging others over what their job is, their ethnicity, or their social status. God’s Word says that “if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:1-11).

Conclusion

We need the authorities and the police, and not just because they are the ones who deliver justice in our world, but because they prevent injustice. And we can also help prevent injustice, starting with ourselves, as God commands, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

Here is some related reading for you: What the Bible Says About Submitting to Human Authority

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Rhonda Martinez is an editor at Legit Writing Services review site and education blog. Rhonda is keen on writing about topics of religion, law, psychology and education.



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