Can a Christian be a police officer?
Having been born in the Soviet Union, a nation deeply atheistic and anti-Christian in its very core, all believers were the laughing stock of society. I was blessed with a grandpa who was a pastor and served years in Soviet camps for his faith in Jesus. Christians were not allowed to get an education, hold high-positions in community, gather, nor teach their Children about faith. If any of these rules were broken, it was the responsibility of the police and civic leaders to order those families to pay fines, and to send thousands upon thousands to Soviet camps to rotten & die.
Not only did Christians fear government, they saw it as anti-Christian.
Such experience and past has deeply influenced how we, former Soviets, view government, its role, and our role in it as Christians:
- the government cannot be trusted
- it should stay as small as possible
- Christians should play no role in it
The theological framework has also been influenced by our past, which impacted Slavics to deeply believe Christians cannot serve as police officers, in the military, or in the political arena. And though there are hundreds of thousands of Christian immigrants from Soviet countries spread out throughout the United States, most young people develop careers either in construction field for guys, or medical field for girls. You can probably count the number of police officers with a Slavic, Christian background on two hands, if that. And those that chose that field were deeply ridiculed and looked down upon by their sub-culture, family & relatives.
One of the most common requests I get from young men is to write a blog on whether or not they can become police officers, not because they are themselves struggling with what to believe, but because they long for others to accept their decision, and not castrate them.
Here is my position: I strongly believe Christians CAN serve as police officers. Ill even go further to say that I believe ALL police officers should be Christian.
The reality is, evil does exist in this world. There are people who, because of sin, are corrupt in their brain, sick in their beliefs, beastly in their motives, and would do harm to as many people as possible for personal gain, without any regret. As a society, we must do what we can to stop them. Instead of letting everyone stand for themselves, our societies have been blessed with people willing to be first responders, on the front lines against such evil, whenever called upon. Such people are trained, equipped, and go out daily, knowing they risk their lives. They are called police officers.
If there is anyone that should be risking his or her life daily to face evil in the face, shouldn’t it be someone who is saved, made righteous with Christ and ready to face eternity?
If someone does not believe in Christians serving as a police officer, they should forever give up their right to call a police officer when an armed thief comes to their door. For if you call for an unsaved police officer to come to your help and he or she is shot by that thief, that police officer will face eternity in hell and damnation. Police officers face such danger or potential for such circumstances on a daily basis; that is why Id ask each Police officer to be Christian.
Also, the type of work police officers are asked to be involved in requires deep moral beliefs, character and integrity. They daily come across drugs, stolen goods, and have the potential to misuse their power and access for personal gain. If they are truly a Christian, there would be no corruption, favoritism, partiality, for they are guided by a belief “love your neighbor as yourself.” Isn’t that our desire and intent, for those serving as police officers? How can we expect that from them and trust them, if they are not guided by a moral law-giver, an inner conviction, God?
3 Most Common Objections to Christians serving as Police Officers:
One of the most common objections to Christians serving as police officers is the statement, “Can you picture Christ wearing an police uniform and carrying an M-16?” True, that is hard to picture. But, at the same time, I cannot picture Jesus wearing a hard-hat or a football helmet. Does that make it a sin to be coal miner or a football player?
2. The Commandment, “Thou Shall Not Murder”
True. The Bible does teach that we must not murder. I believe that, and confess that. We must not murder.
Soon after God gave Moses that commandment, Moses went back down to the people and found them worshipping an idol. And right then, Moses commands the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
So did God ask Moses to PAUSE on the commandment “Do Not Murder” by asking Levites to kill their brothers and sisters? Not only that, Moses calls these killers as people “set apart for the Lord,” because they obeyed and killed!
Clearly, there is a distinction between personal revenge, and God’s wrath being poured out on evil through men and women whom He has set apart.
3. “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Another common phrase thrown around at people wanting to serve as police officers is Jesus’ phrase in Matthew 26:52, “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Scripture cannot be taken out of context. Jesus also said, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” (Luke 22:36)
If scriptures can be taken out of context, then Jesus is advocating all of his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy a sword (Luke 22:36), so that they can then perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52).
Nonsense. The scripture in Matthew 26:52 does not promote a full, anti-all-swords-guns stance. If He was so anti-swords, He would have told the soldiers to “throw your swords away,” instead, he says, “put your swords back.”
Police officers carry a gun not with the intent to kill, but with the intent to save. There is a big difference.
All Old Testament support for Christians will be disregarded, therefore, I will only list some of the New Testament support:
Romans 12:19 and Romans 13:4
Clearly, the Bible teaches us, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”” (Romans 12:19) And when God pours out His vengeance, He can use natural causes, but also people. Paul writes about soldiers as, “For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4)
Christians have no right to seek personal vengeance (Rom. 12:19). God has said all vengeance belongs to Him (Rom. 12:19). However, God has delegated “vengeance” to the civil government (Rom. 13:4).
1 Peter 2:14
God commands the government to punish evildoers (1 Pet. 2:14). If it is a sin for a Christian to be a police officer, then all police officers are doomed to hell.
John the Baptist
The tax collectors came to be baptized by John and asked what they had to do. John did not instruct these servants of Caesar to leave their jobs, but to be honest in their collections.
Soldiers also inquired to see if they had to meet any special requirements before they could be baptized. John said, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). What a perfect time for John to tell these soldiers to leave the army; instead, he tells them to be honest and not grumble about their wages. If it is a sin for one to be a soldier, John sure missed the opportunity to tell them!
Caesar’s Household (Phil 4:22)
All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. Who were these people? It is important to understand this phrase rightly. It does not mean those who are of Caesar’s kith and kin. Caesar’s household was the regular phrase for what we would call the Imperial Civil Service. Paul and all of God’s people greeted them!
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13. Police officers do that on a daily basis.
Cornelius, a centurion
The first Gentile to believe the gospel was a Roman soldier named Cornelius, “a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:1,2). Peter was sent to this man to tell him the “words” he needed to hear in order to be saved (Acts 10:6, 22; 11:14).
Three things to note here:
- The Bible calls this man devout and God-fearing, even though he was a centurion
- God heard the prayers of a centurion
- In further instructions to the Centurion, Peter does not tell him to leave his career.
The Philippian Jailer
One of the first men in Europe to obey the gospel was the Philippian jailer (Acts 16). Though he served the Roman government and carried a sword, Paul did not have him leave his occupation. The jailer was still on the job after his conversion (Acts 16:35–36)
* Not everyone is called to be a Police officer. Not everyone who feels “called” to be a Police Officer should become one, because of lack of sound judgment, character, & integrity. But, don’t hate on those who are called, and serve in that field. Support them!
* It is dangerous field to be in. Daily, they meet face to face with evil and with persons who don’t care for other’s safety. And yes, Police Officers do get to carry a gun, and they should be very careful with it. But, truck drivers should be just as careful and attentive when they drive, for they can and do kill people with their inattentive driving. Cooks should be careful how they use their knives, for they can cut someone. And people who set up scaffolding for siding should be careful how they set that up, for that can collapse and people can die too.
* Pray for those serving in the uniform. We have made it a habit in our home with our children, to pray daily for policemen, firemen, and other people serving us!
* No, I don’t support everything that every Police officer has ever done. As a matter of fact, that last ticket that I got was completely bogus… You get my point. I am a pacifist towards wars, but, that does not mean I do not support those who risk their lives protecting us.
PS. Now, if only I can figure out a way to get every police officer to read this blog, get to know me, and then forgive me, if I ever get pulled over. Maybe I should just have a few copies in my car, and hand it to them, when they ask for my ID and insurance identification?