Riots, Police Shootings, and Change


I know very little about the situations I see on television or read in the news. Therefore I try to avoid quick responses to situations like police shootings. We see one minute of someone’s life and we assume we know everything we need to know about it. But we actually know very little. Quick responses are rarely helpful and they usually come back to bite the writer.  However, I thought I would post some general thoughts on the situations in Tulsa and Charlotte.

  1. Authority is misunderstood and misused. We do not understand how to exercise or respond to authority. Therefore we should  not be surprised at the conflict between police and those they are pursuing. One key to change is teaching those in authority, including fathers, police officers, teachers, and politicians how to exercise authority for the sake of those under them and teaching those under them to respond correctly to that authority. Egalitarianism in all its forms is one of the main reasons authority and power are not understood. Hierarchy is a necessary good in our world. But we have rejected hierarchy. If authority is to be rightly used and responded to egalitarianism in all its forms must be eradicated.
  2. The justice system is broken and has been for some time. Therefore it is hard for those who are treated unjustly to believe that wrongs will be righted. This adds to a sense of despair among some. The whole system needs an overhaul, but this will only come when we admit a law above us, which is the very thing we deny. Is it any surprise that in a country where there is no God or natural law that there is no justice? Justice requires a fixed rule. We have none.  We might get it right sometimes by God’s grace, but justice as a way of life will continue to escape us.
  3. Our understanding of any given situation on the news is severely limited. In my opinion the shooting in Tulsa was not justified, while the one in Charlotte was. But that is just the opinion of one man who was not there, does not have most of the facts, and is completely ignorant of the surrounding context. That last sentence is true of 99% of the people who comment on any given situation. You can have an opinion. You can state principles, such as “It is wrong to shoot an unarmed man in most situations.” But don’t treat your opinion on a particular situation as an informed one. It isn’t. Know what you don’t know. Stay humble.
  4. Rioting loses you respect and credibility. Any group that believes burning down buildings, beating people, and theft is a proper response to injustice is a group that has lost its moral bearings. It is not just to respond to injustice with more injustice. It is hypocrisy.  What made Martin Luther King Jr. so effective and respected was his ability to protest without violence. African-Americans and others need to condemn the rioters as much as they condemn the police officers who shoot without cause.
  5. The breakdown of the family is a key component to the cultural landscape. Divorce, abortion, pregnancy out of wedlock, welfare, absentee dads, absentee moms, etc. have all led to a breakdown of our society at the foundations. We see the results of this breakdown in the police department and among those on the street. What we see in Charlotte is not the disease. It is the symptom. And the disease is not racism. A strong family unit would not cure all ills, but it would cure a lot them.
  6. Our current problems are deep and will not be solved in 5 years much less 5 days. Unfortunately, we are not a society that digs in for the long haul. We post pictures and memes and assume that answers all the questions. We slap a Bible verse up as if that ends the conversation. Our thinking is shallow.  Issues of justice, mercy, family, economics, and politics require thinking, lots of it.  I am not convinced America can do this. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps tops is the loss of objective truth, the culture of constant distraction, and the rejection of experts. Can we think deeply about mercy when mercy is not a transcendent idea, but something found in the recesses of our hearts, a feeling? Can we think carefully about justice when our time is shattered every few minutes by this or that and our sense of justice is primarily shaped by TV?
  7. Finally, the church needs to lead the way in preaching Christ and Him crucified, modeling a life of repentance, and seeking to obey all that Christ has commanded. The Word, prayer, sacraments, service, discipleship, and evangelism are what will ultimately change the course of our communities. That does not mean there is nothing to be done in the public square. There is. But the foundation for doing good in public is built in the church and the home.

There are other problems that need addressed, such as the emasculating effect of welfare, the overreach of the government, home economics in the broadest sense, and the rampant antinomianism, liberalism, and feminism that infects the American church. But a post on those will have to wait for another day.  None of us want to keep seeing riots and shootings on our social media feeds. The solutions are not dramatic. Perhaps that is why so little time is devoted to them. Worship rightly. Read, love, and obey the Word. Love your spouse. Raise godly kids. Work hard. Trust in God. Repent of your sins. Love the people in your community and church. Here is where and how change happens.