In the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd, an unarmed man who was held down and choked with the knee of what appears to be a manic and vengeful police officer in Minneapolis, MN, riots have broken out all over the state and elsewhere around the country. Normally, I caution against quick judgment against a police officer when it results in the death of the suspect being taken into custody. However, in this case, I can see no alternative to “that cop committed murder.”
However, in a civil society, it is still left to the courts to weigh the evidence and decide the case. Yet, all over the country, we see emotionally-driven people ranging from outright anarchists to Bible scholars and church leaders making themselves out to be judge, juror, and executioner. Rioters in Minnesota have certainly taken it upon themselves carry out the judgment and wrath of God upon not only that police department involved in the incident, but the citizens of the entire city. It is complete chaos.
Earlier today, the president tweeted what appeared to be a warning that if the city of Minneapolis didn’t bring this violent anarchy under control, he would be forced to call in the military to use deadly force. The tweet, in fact, landed the president in Twitter Jail.
It is debatable if this is actually what the president meant, as some have argued that he meant that the logical next step in a state of anarchy proceeding looting is acts of violence. History has shown that acts of violence against people always ensues acts of violence against property. At any rate, the president was clear that he would not allow the city to end that way and would, if necessary, call in the military to stop it.
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Yet, leave it to Joe Carter and The Gospel Coalition to form an alliance against the president himself and, instead of condemning the anarchy and chaos taking over the city, launch a protest against the use of deadly force to bring anarchy under control. In other words, Joe Carter and the rest of the limp-wristed latte-mafia in the Evangelical Intelligentsia believe that chaos is just fine but stopping it is baaaaaaad.
It should be pointed out that too many people like Joe Carter in leadership positions is exactly why society–and the Church–are in such shambles. Thankfully, in the case of Carter, his sphere of influence has shrunken to the size of a pea.
Yet, the use of deadly force is not only a biblically-justifiable means to end the violent shivaree, but Joe Carter should know that to use deadly force against criminal marauders is a duty bestowed upon not only the civil government, but individuals. It is a God-given and inalienable right enshrined to people with the expectation that it be used when morally necessary.
Joe Carter writes in his latest piece at The Gospel Coaltion, If the President Tells You to Shoot Looters, You Have a Duty to Disobey,
Yet while Trump understands that he has the authority to “assume control” of the National Guard, he doesn’t appear to understand that he has no authority to order the military to shoot looters. Unfortunately, some Christians in America also fail to understand that fact—which could lead to unlawful and unbiblical use of violence.
This is rich — in fact, quite amusing — coming from the same people who, despite the fact that the government has no authority to shut down churches, relentlessly defended the government for shutting down churches and obliged churches to obey. But what Carter actually fails to understand is the Bible actually does give not only civil government the authority, but individuals the right to protect themselves and their property with the use of deadly force — and the Bible actually blesses them for doing so.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. — Matthew 5:9
Of course, to qualify biblically as a peacemaker, one must be — as Carter notes that which applies to the Army doctrine — ethically legal and morally right in his use of deadly force. “Soldiers may use lethal force if they or another person are in imminent risk of death or serious injury.” Deadly force as a means of carrying out vengeance is never biblically justified. But the bearing of arms is clearly something Jesus condoned as not only did his disciples carry swords, Jesus actually commanded that anyone who doesn’t have a sword, sell your clothes and buy one (Luke 22:36).
Now, one must ask the question: why would Jesus command people to carry a sword if he intended for him never to use it as Carter seems to foolishly argue.
Looting does place people at imminent risk of death or serious injury and not only do the civil authorities have a duty to stop any up-rise against the government, but individuals have a God-given right and duty to protect their lives, families, and property. As written in Nehemiah 4:14, the protection of the home (personal property) is treated on equal grounds with the protection of brothers, sons, daughters, and wives. Any situation where dozens, hundreds — even thousands — of people are threatening your business, your home, your property, and burning buildings to the ground should immediately be met with the highest use of force necessary to immediately stop it.
While we should value the lives of all people made in the Image of God, justice often necessitates the taking of life to reach the ultimate end of that which God calls us to seek: peace. As John Locke famously noted in his Second Treatise of Civil Government,
I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred: and one may destroy a man who makes war upon him…