By Marty Owen
The decision of the Minneapolis City Council to put an end to the police department in its city not only represents gross irresponsibility and incompetence on the part of the city leaders, but also constitutes an act of rebellion against God Himself, who has given to governing authorities the power to use physical force in a responsible manner to enforce duly established laws. Such force must always be used by authorized officials in a way that is controlled, regulated by established norms and judiciously exercised in proportion to the need; but it must be used, for there is no way to enforce the law against resistant criminal elements in society other than by the use of physical force. This involves everything from forcefully detaining, handcuffing, frisking and jailing violators all the way to imposing long-term prison sentences and even – in rare occasions – inflicting the death penalty in the case of heinous crimes involving exceedingly cruel acts of premeditated murder with malice aforethought.
This decision by the Minneapolis City Council shows, first of all, absolute political incompetence on the part of city leaders. To do away with the police department because of certain "bad apples" within that department who are guilty of police brutality is like trying to remove a cancerous tumor from a foot by cutting off a leg at the hip. It is like trying to cure a headache with rounds of chemotherapy. It is like a surgeon replacing a scalpel with a hatchet in the operating room. Who would place their lives in the hands of such a surgeon? Such incompetence reveals both a failure to think rationally and a failure to act responsibly in the face of political pressure from radical leftist organizations like Black Lives Matter or terrorist groups like Antifa, which are willing to use violent assault on human lives, businesses and property in the pursuit of their political goals.
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At a deeper level, however, the decision to put an end to the police department reveals a spirit of rebellion against the supreme authority of God Himself. We know that because Romans 13 tells us that God Himself has ordained that governing authorities possess the power of the "sword" for the benefit of human society (Romans 13:4). Certainly, that authority can be abused, but such abuse calls not for the removal of all police authority from a community, but rather, its reform.
It will not do to say, as the Minneapolis City Council has said, that a "police-free future" does not imply a lack of concern for safety, since other means of ensuring safety can be explored that do not involve police officers. The fact is, law and order cannot be maintained in any society unless there are some government officials armed with the physical tools necessary to respond to criminal acts by hunting down alleged perpetrators and physically detaining them by force against their will.
When people in any community say, "We don´t need law enforcement officers in our community telling us what to do and enforcing the law through the use of force," what they are really saying is, "We don't need anyone in our community to establish law and order," which in light of Romans 13 is really saying, "We don't need God in our community." I say that because rejection of the need for law enforcement is in effect a denial of the Bible's teaching on human depravity and the fall of man. It is a denial of the teaching of Romans 13 about armed government officials being God's "ministers" who act on his behalf to avenge wrong. To reject the need for law enforcement is to embrace the serpent's lie in Genesis 3 – "You shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5). It is to agree with Satan that man can invent his own model for a peaceful society that ignores what God has to say about society's need and all other matters about which God has clearly spoken.
Those who desire a "police-free future" are in essence saying that they want to be free to live as a law to themselves, subject to the authority of no one over them who is armed with power to enforce the law. Instead they want to be subject only to their own desires and their own self-dictated sense of right and wrong, so that they might live as men lived during the period of Israel's judges, when each person "did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). Such individuals reject the kingship of Christ, who has delegated to human governments the power of enforcing compliance with the law. Without realizing it, they are embracing Satan's age-old lie that man can live as a completely autonomous being, establishing his own individual standards of truth and justice, and ignoring societal standards and one's God-given duty toward others. Such an attitude tears apart societies by ripping in shreds the social fabric.
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I fear that what we are seeing in Minneapolis is the clear outworking of Romans 1. When people do not worship the true God in truth, but hold down the truth in unrighteousness, their minds become darkened and they end up believing outrageous lies and throwing away all common sense. Those who cannot tolerate having people in authority over them are rebels against the rule of God. Calls to abolish the police are expressions of contempt for God's authority as a Lawgiver and for the order He has established in Scripture as absolutely necessary for the well-being of society. That order involves the lawful endowment of state officials with the power of the sword to act as His "ministers of justice" to avenge wrong, to strike terror in the heart of wrongdoers, to restrain the unhindered growth of evil, and to maintain peace and order in a fallen world.
Marty Owen has served in pastoral ministry both in the southern United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as a missionary pastor in southern Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter.