What a difference a year makes.
With the defund-the-police movement horribly blowing up in their face amidst the rapid rise in crime, politicians are scrambling to accuse their rival parties of being the ones wanting to cut funding for law enforcement. Of course, it’s not hard to wind the news media clock back to fact check those claims, but all that aside, let’s not overlook the spiritual dimension behind attempts to cripple law enforcement.
Take politics out of it for a moment and let’s instead focus on the Grand Canyon spiritual differences between those wanting to defund the police and those who do not.
A flawed foundation
Those wanting to defund the police start with the belief that human nature is inherently good; just ask their “experts” and they’ll tell you. Psychologist Abraham Maslow once stated: “As far as I know we just don't have any intrinsic instincts for evil.” Nodding in agreement is Carl Rogers who asserted, “I do not find that…evil is inherent in human nature.”
If we’re all innately good, at best we need only minimal law enforcement, right?
The problem with those assertions is the tidal wave of crime we see committed on a daily basis, especially where police are most absent. If we’re not naturally bad, then what gives?
The 18th century philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau said that each human being is born an ‘innocent savage’ but is then corrupted by society. Society and not people, said Rousseau, is responsible for evil.
A pesky fact evidently escaping Rousseau’s reasoning is that societies are composed of people.
Others say that people aren’t bad, but malfunctions in the brain lead to bad behavior. Of course, there’s little question that a fair amount of mental illness exists today and that such disorders can result in evil acts. In her book My Life Among the Serial Killers, Dr. Helen Morrison says this of the murderers with which she has dealt: "He is a serial killer when he is a fetus, even as soon as sperm meets egg to create the genes of a new person.”
Evidence, however, sometimes seems to contradict that. For instance, when Morrison was asked to examine the famous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, she admitted after her autopsy that Gacy’s brain was perfectly normal – no defects, no abnormalities, no excuses.
The Bible refutes the secular world’s assertions about human nature and outlines why law enforcement is so necessary. Although we were originally created perfectly in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27), humanity sinned and then began replicating themselves in their own fallen image (Gen. 5:3), with the conclusion being, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).
Jesus explicitly concurs, saying: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matt. 7:11, emphasis mine).
I think it’s safe to say that those thinking traditional law enforcement is antiquated tend not to have a biblical worldview about human nature. They believe that just given the right chance or coaxing, people, because they are really good inside, will do the right thing.
In contrast, the Bible says humankind has an intrinsically bad dimension and because of that, God has provided four different protectants to restrain human evil.
Our God-given protectors
From a spiritual guardianship perspective, the Church acts as both salt and light to a world that is in darkness (Matt. 5:13-16). Sadly, many churches today have modeled themselves after the world and have become “tasteless” as Christ warned, so their distinctiveness, and thus the attractiveness of Jesus – and His influence – has been lost.
The second of God’s protectors is our conscience. Although we have a sinful nature, we still have the moral imprint of God on each one of us, which manifests in a conscience that gives us a sense of what is morally right and wrong.
Paul says this is built into each one of us whether we are educated in God’s moral laws or not: “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Rom. 2:14-15).
Unfortunately, because of the Fall, the Bible tells us that the conscience is often numb to what is right so people can never be relied on to “do the right thing”. The natural conscience, Scripture says, is seared (1 Tim. 4:1-2), defiled (Titus 1:15), and predominantly driven by self and evil (Heb. 10:22) and because of this, God provides the third societal protectant, which is the family.
Parents have the responsibility to “bring [children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). John MacArthur defines the family as, “the divinely created institution for the formation of restrained sinners who by generations of morality, discipline, love, virtue, and obedience become a benefit to society, enjoy God’s gifts, and are grateful.”
Regrettably, many families today ignore God’s moral laws and do little to restrain their children’s actions. It’s a sure bet that if a child doesn’t have or respect laws in the home, they will negatively encounter, in a very short time, the laws of the state.
Government, which is the realm of law enforcement, is the last of God’s protectors. We’re told that, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (Rom. 13:1-4).
A law enforcement officer that you encounter may represent local, state, national, or international law in a secular manner, but in a spiritual sense, the Bible says they represent the authority of God (vv. 1-2). And that’s where the rebellion found in the defund-the-police movement comes into play.
Scripture tells us in many places that there is a “spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2, my emphasis), which is directed at all forms of God’s authority. Our own conscience is assaulted by a relentless sin nature (Rom. 7) while it, along with the Church, the family, and God’s moral representatives in government, are assailed by a world system that seems hellbent on undermining and destroying each.
There’s little question that the effects of this (and especially that of a hamstrung law enforcement presence) are devastating to a nation full of rebels. When the same spirit that restricts policing extends to the courts it gets even worse.
Today we see unmerited leniency granted to criminals with the end result being, “though the wicked is shown favor, he does not learn righteousness; he deals unjustly in the land of uprightness” (Is. 26:10). Further, the Bible says lawbreakers are emboldened when punishment is declined or delayed: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11).
No one is saying that law enforcement today is perfect, that racism or bias doesn’t exist, or that forms of assistance other than police aren’t better to deploy in certain situations. But the spirit behind defunding the police, in the end, represents one of the many rebellions we see against God today and something that seeks the ultimate form of do-what-I-want-whenever-I-want freedom.
And the name for that is anarchy.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.