Modern Police, Man-Made Law, and the ‘Common Good’

Published by Chris Hume on

Brian Sauvé recently seemed to downplay the concern theonomists have with police officers pulling people over for non-evil acts. I don’t know Sauvé’s exact views on this (and, for the record, am thankful for a lot of his work), but I do know the modern police system is antithetical to God’s Law-Word.

The very concept of a body of “law enforcers” raises a question: What laws need enforcing? Biblical law does not require a body of law enforcers because the relatively short list of civil crimes is handled by the people bringing their complaints to local magistrates. Moreover, law enforcement officers are not required to be out on the streets looking for murderers or thieves or kidnappers. Under biblical law, private people are free to arm themselves to protect their families and homes from such miscreants. They are also free to hire security to protect their private businesses.

My pastor, Joel Saint, once said that the reason he would be inclined to call the police if faced with a dangerous villain, is because any righteous action he might take to defend himself or his family would likely by penalized by the state in favor of the criminal’s rights. In such a system, it is better to call the person “assigned” to deal with the bad guys. But such a system favors the criminal. If a people come to rely on a small body of “law enforcement” officers to protect them from evil men, the criminal can have confidence that he simply must do his dirty work before he hears the encroaching sirens. Thankfully, Americans (in some places) are still allowed to exercise some measure of personal protection against evil men.

The root of the police problem in American society is that police officers are tasked with enforcing man-made law. A gargantuan tumor of man-made law creates the need for a growing body of “law enforcers” armed and equipped to force compliance. The forced taxation of the people is often not enough to fund these police officers, so they morph into “revenue officers,” fleecing the people via speeding tickets and other penalties for non-evil acts. In most cases, police officers are not engaged in acts which stop evil actions (murder, rape, kidnapping, etc.). On occasion, police officers do engage murderers or thieves in the act, and they often do great work in those cases, but it is inevitable that normal people will engage such criminals far more often than police officers will. Criminals generally attack soft targets, not armed police officers. Most of the time, police officers are providing a “police presence” (something private security could do), enforcing man-made laws which penalize non-evil acts (traffic regulations, drug laws, probation violations, failure to pay statist fees, etc.), or following up on crimes after the fact.

As it relates to enforcing man-made laws, modern police officers are essentially tasked with meddling in people’s affairs, and they often do find themselves, in the course of “following orders,” in harm’s way. Because of this, American society has created a system which empowers them to oppress and terrorize people for the sake of “officer safety.” This should be expected. If you were asked to use your civil authority to give people a hard time about non-evil actions, and you knew a lot of people would oppose that sort of meddling, wouldn’t you want special protection (also known as “qualified immunity”)?

Vague concepts such as “natural law” and the “common good” are used to justify a system wherein armed state agents can pull people over for non-evil acts, and then force them to pay money for failing to follow man-made regulations (vehicle registration, driver’s licenses, etc.). This is antithetical to biblical law, which calls for justice – the punishment of the evildoer (cf. 1 Pet. 2:14).

God’s wisdom says that to “impose a fine on a righteous man is not good, nor to strike the noble for their uprightness” (Prov. 17:26). And yet many today, including some Reformed pastors influenced by “natural law” theology, seem to suggest otherwise.

Note: This post is an adaptation of an excerpt from the book Seven Statist Sins. Get the book to read the rest.

Categories: Political

Chris Hume

Chris Hume is the host of The Lancaster Patriot Podcast and the author of several books. He holds the MA degree in Literature from Clarks Summit University and the MBA degree from Wesley College. His undergraduate degree is in history. Chris currently resides in Lancaster County, with his wife and children.