10 If you falter in times of trouble,
how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it.
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. -Psalms 18: 34
The Scripture tells us in the Book of James that believers must have compassion for the poor:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
In James we see a view of the rich that indicates that the rich often deprive the poor of justice:
5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
There are many ways in which we can express care for the less fortunate members of society and there are many voices that purport to counsel how society should provide “justice” for the poor. Apart from the issue of how the government can alleviate poverty, justice can never be administered (nor can poverty be alleviated) without preventing crime and violence.
This Biblical concept of limiting the powers and responsibilities of the federal government is the basis for the U.S. Constitution which put limitations on the federal government in order to keep it from becoming too powerful. The primary Constitutional responsibility of the federal government is to protect the people from foreign invasion.
The states, local law enforcement and we the individual citizens ourselves- in submission to lawful authority- are in the best position to stop violent criminals!
When the people call for the government to expand military power and administer in areas that are best left to the people, the situation becomes similar to Israel in the time of Samuel:
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [b] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
1 Samuel 8
Compare the warnings set before the Nation of Israel with the following exhortation from Proverbs:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but victory rests with the LORD.
The Constitution is a system of boundaries that delineate the areas in which federal, state and local governments operate along with defining areas that are private and not subject to public legislation:
28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
set up by your forefathers.
Nevertheless, prior to passage of the Fourteenth Amendment after the Civil War, the U.S. Constitution only limited the power of the federal government and explicitly required that all other powers and responsibilities remain in the hands of the various state legislatures. Until WW I, most Americans were adamantly opposed to foreign wars or any other involvement that entangled the United States with foreign powers. Woodrow Wilson illegally manipulated the nation into entering World War I and then imprisoned people that spoke against the war.
WW I issued the U.S. into a century of militarism; i.e., an almost pagan ideology that exalts military supremacy over other values. The Scriptural view of national security, on the other hand, provides for the means of defense without exalting the state over the needs of individuals.
The Biblical view of the relationship between government and individuals balances the extreme philosophy of individualism (such as Ayn Rand’s thoughts expressed in works like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged) with the statist ideologies of socialism such as the National Socialist Worker’s Party.
The Nazis grabbed control of Germany after Hitler was constitutionally elected. Fascism, National Socialism and other socialist systems that institute totalitarianism by unifying the government and the private sectors move inexorably toward more economic control. Once such “unity” is obtained, militarism will soon become joined to statism in the personality of a charismatic leader that looks for minority groups to demonize in order to distract the masses from the government’s failure to deal with one government created crisis after another.
Our premise then is that the job of protecting ourselves from violence and tyranny is primarily in the hands of you and I as individuals and that Scripture has a great deal to teach about personal self-defense, provisions for local and national security and how to stop violent criminals (even those intent on seizing control of governmental power).
In fact, the drafters of the U.S. Constitution received a cultural heritage that recognized inalienable rights. Rights and duties do not stem from society but exist apart from society because they proceed from the character of the Creator. Our Creator wants to be known by men and women and reveals himself in reason and order and human dignity. His creation and all of its respective parts speak of God’s infinite existence, law and justice.
If we look to nature alone for divinity, however, all our rights are then whatever government deems them to be.
In a naturalistic view of the world, there is no reason that the poor should not be slaves to the rich- exactly the state of society under ancient Greek and Roman philosophies of law. The poorest among us today often live in oppressive communities where crime and violence are commonplace and where the police are hard-pressed to provide protection. And the power to tax the rich is also the power to confiscate the wealth of every citizen and make every individual into a slave to Pharaoh!
The Founding Fathers knew their history well enough to understand that tyrants often pretend to help the poor and even choose to allow criminal anarchy in order to provide the pretext for more government control. Witness the phenomenon of the “liberal” criminal justice systems in some jurisdictions that allow the reach of street violence to be extended into many neighborhoods while the politicians seek to impose more gun control on law abiding citizens.
For several years street violence has declined in many cities but, in cities like Chicago and Washington, DC, that impose draconian gun bans, violence has sky-rocketed!
Victims and other witnesses to crimes of violence are often intimidated into silence by gangs that have become virtual armies. One gang, MS-13, has infiltrated into small communities all over the U.S. and dares the police to take action against them. The trademark of MS-13 is to hack its enemies with machetes. For example, a mother lost her husband and two sons to random street violence in almost “gun-free” San Francisco. An MS-13 member did not hesitate to gun down the innocent family in what authorities at first believed to be a road rage incident. It later appeared that the killer (an illegal immigrant that had been apprehended several times but never deported because San Francisco is a so-called “sanctuary city“) might have thought the father and sons were an opposing gang because the father and sons were Hispanic.
We can tell that mother that we feel her pain.
Nevertheless, we must allow residents of our neighborhoods to protect their families. And the criminal justice system needs to ensure that witnesses to violent crimes are not intimidated. The police cannot be there all the time for us and we know that ambitious politicians do not have their sacred oaths to uphold the Constitution squarely before their eyes.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.