Law and order? or the wild west?

I live in Southern California.  Part of the original wild west.  Add to that the fact that we have Donald Trump, the “law and order” President.  And yet, I feel like we’re closer to the wild, wild west of years gone by that we are to anything resembling law and order!

Law and order? or the wild west?

How can law and order lead to the wild, wild west?

It’s easy,

when so-called law and order

is actually against the rule of law!

While there are so many examples to choose from, so many times that law and order led us to the wild west with no law and no order, here’s the one I’ve chosen today. The headline in MSN news is Protesters Target LA Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer’s Home. She’s the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director.

law and order

For those of us who follow the rules, as in the ones who stay within the government guidelines for law and order, she’s the public face of the agency that tries to keep us safe from COVID. On a Zoom call just a few days ago, we were talking about how we’re glad we live where we do. We wish more people would follow the rules, but at least we’re in an area where there are reasonable rules.

And then this morning, I saw this headline. Here are a few paragraphs from the article.

the wild west

The protesters waved signs, chanted and generally flouted the county’s health orders requiring masks and social distancing. They sought to make the case that the county’s new restrictions are unnecessary and arbitrary. Since widespread shutdowns and health restriction(s) were first implemented in the spring, Ferrer and health officials across the nation have been the target of harassment and death threats from people who resent the orders, including many who believe the pandemic is a hoax.

On Sunday, they chanted “No Science, no data, no shutdown,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

A video posted on Twitter showed a handful of protesters arguing with one of Ferrer’s neighbors. One waived (sic) a flag reading “Trump Train,” and another held a homemade sign, saying, “Only we the people can save the USA.”

the sources of law and order – and the wild west

Hopefully, we all agree that the source of law and order should be the government. However, even as I write that, I know we’re not all going to agree.

On the other hand, the source of conditions like those existing during the wild, wild west was people doing whatever they wanted to do. No restraints.

But now, we have the President, specifically Trump, encouraging his supporters to rise up against the lawfully elected leaders in their cities and states. Well, the Democratic ones who don’t agree with his policies. In this case, his allegations that COVID is a hoax. Later that it was going away in a couple weeks. After that, COVID was going to go away when it got warmer.

Also that COVID isn’t really that bad and only 1 tenth of 1 percent of the people die from it. Even though the death rates in reality, as reported by county and state health department, are much higher than that. Not to mention the long-lasting health effects after COVID itself is gone. And there’s the famous, “we’re rounding the corner”, even as cases, hospitalizations, and death continue to skyrocket.

Talk about the wild west! It’s like an alternate reality. In any case, we end up with the federal government encouraging uprisings against state and local governments based on lies about what’s happening with a deadly virus that’s spreading across the globe.

The wild, wild west – created by a government led by a so-called law and order President!

How do law and order people end up creating a new wild, wild west?

Some of them, when confronted by the conflicting messages from local versus federal government, choose to follow the one they prefer. In spite of the claims of No Science, no data, no shutdown – which are demonstrably false, they choose the path they want to follow. Namely, claiming they have the right to do whatever they want. Including the apparent right to make people sick and possibly even die.

I think we can be pretty sure that, if the right in question was to do something they didn’t like, their thinking would be different!

What about Christians?

Truth be told, this is where I really want to end up. This is the one that really bothers me. I still don’t understand how Christians can support this wild west, throw away law and order, kind of thinking.

We, Christians, are told that leaders are appointed by God.

Submission to the Authorities

Ro 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

Ro 13:6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

The passage says that God has established all authority. Therefore, we are to submit to those authorities. Of course, there are exceptions, when it comes to things that conflict with our faith. Wearing a mask and not being able to eat in a restaurant are not – I repeat are not – in conflict with our faith. I submit that not being able to have large in-person church gatherings are also not in conflict with our faith. Please see my article, Mourning over the loss of in-person church services, for more on that.

Therefore, when we, Christians, rebel against authorities for things like this – like masks and eating out – put us in conflict with God! Yes, with God. If the authorities are appointed by God, which is in our Scripture, and we refuse to follow them, are we not rebelling against God?

For example, let’s look at something Jesus said. You probably remember something about an eye for an eye? Here’s the entire passage.

An Eye for an Eye

Mt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

There’s a saying today about going the extra mile. This is where it comes from. Here’s some background on what Jesus said about walking two miles instead of one.

“Go the extra mile.”

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

The reference here is to an ancient Persian custom. The Persians introduced the use of regular couriers to carry letters or news. The king’s courier had absolute command of all help that was necessary in the performance of his task. He could press horses into service, and compel the owners to accompany him if he desired. To refuse compliance with his demands was an unpardonable offense against the king.

There was also a practice in Roman-occupied territory that any Roman soldier could require a citizen to carry his equipment, cloak, or other burdens for one mile. This may have been the practice that the Lord was specifically referring to when He instructs His followers to unselfishly “go the extra mile” as testimony to the generosity of the Christian spirit. The expression has come to mean to help someone beyond what is required or expected of you.  [1]Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 412). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

The author says the Roman practice is what Jesus probably referred to. That does seem the most likely scenario. After all, His audience was Jews who were under Roman rule. Notice that, in practice, this was more than just walking two miles rather than one. Chances are the Roman soldier commanding someone to carry his stuff meant carrying 40 to 50 pounds of equipment and battle gear!

Now – tell me. Would you rather take your restaurant dinner home to eat it – or carry 50 pounds of gear for two miles?

Jesus told the people him His time to possibly skip dinner and carry 50 pounds worth of stuff for the very soldiers who were oppressing them!

Clearly, we’ve lost something from the original intent.

What should Christians do to regain law and order in the wild, wild west?

You know what? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. First of all, look at the Israelites suffering under Pharaoh because they turned away from God. Then consider Job, and his suffering because of a conversation, a wager really, between God and Satan. Any suffering we undergo could be anything between those two extremes. It could even be one of those two cases. Or something else entirely.

The only thing for us to do, really, is to turn to God and pray. Pray for wisdom to understand what’s happening. Strength to endure. And strength to maintain our faith. Pray for God’s comfort. Maybe even pray for forgiveness, because regardless of the direct cause of the grief – surely forgiveness is needed for something. No matter the cause, acknowledging our position relative to God is always a good thing.

And the last thing I’ll include, but certainly not the least, is to remember to praise God. It’s something David always did. No matter what any of his Psalms said, no matter how much grief he felt, David always praised God.

Conclusion – Law and order? or the wild west?

Ultimately, the way to restore law and order is to turn to God and do the things above. Probably even more, since in no way is that list exhaustive. True law and order comes from God. The wild west comes from Satan. Fighting against the authorities God gives us cannot restore us to God. Whether we have a lesson to learn, grave sins that need to be forgiven, if we’re just caught up in a larger issue than ourselves, we must continue to trust God. Have faith that whatever He does is what’s best.

When we join in with white supremacists, anarchists, and others who try to overturn the government installed by God, rather than trusting Him and following His commands and teachings, I think we need to tread very carefully. Because unless we know for sure that we are part of His solution, then we are part of the problem. And as I’ve pointed out, many times, I don’t see all of these protests as being something that’s supported in the Bible.

We need to live a life full of love. Including love for those whom the government are trying to save from getting sick or dying from COVID. Where does the Bible tell us that is the wrong thing to do? I don’t believe it’s in there. Not anywhere.



References

1 Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 412). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

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