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Are Riots Right and Good?

What are your thoughts on the riots that have now been connected with the Black Lives Matter movement? Are they right? Are they good? It is true that Americans enjoy the protection that the Constitution gives to their right to free speech. Residents of the United States have the rights and even responsibility to peacefully protest moral and social issues.

But does that freedom of speech extend to rioting? God’s Word can give us some guidance in regard to this matter. There are at least three of the Commandments that can be applied directly to the issue of rioting.

The first one is Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth.

Through that commandment God establishes authority beginning with our parents and extending to all people that God has placed over us, including the government, and guides us in how we are to honor them. The riots are in defiance of the government that God has established and therefore they are not God-pleasing.

Another of the commandments that applies to this matter is You shall not steal. Martin Luther explained that in this commandment God urges us to help our neighbor and to help him improve and protect his goods and means of making a living. Through these riots, both private and public property have been destroyed. People have lost their businesses, their means of making a living. Employees have lost their job, their means of making a living. This clearly is in violation to the Seventh Commandment.

The third and final commandment that we’ll apply to it is the Fifth Commandment. You shall not murder. Sadly, through these riots not only has personal and private property been lost, but individuals have lost their most precious thing: their lives. Yes, it is true that the death of George Floyd was a tragedy, but two wrongs never make a right. It is also a tragedy that these riots have caused people to lose their lives.

So yes we have the freedom of speech, but clearly these riots are not the way to find the solution. So what is?

We should be guided by the counsel and direction that God has given in His Word. We should not be surprised when sinful human beings in authority make mistakes and even when they deliberately break the laws. But God has given the government to ensure that they are justly punished for their wrong deeds.

We should also pray that God would raise up good people to be in authority. People who are going to honor the rule of law.

The other thing we should do is forgive. That’s the way that God has treated us. He is the ultimate authority and we have all broken his commandments time and time again. He doesn’t riot against us. He doesn’t burn down our homes and our buildings, our property and goods. No, he graciously continues to provide all that we need for this body and life. And he has even provided for us in eternity. He was willing to send His Son out of love, to live and die for you.

Jesus took all of God’s anger in your place, so that you could be forgiven, and be a citizen of heaven. May God’s forgiveness of you fill your life with so much peace that it overflows to the people and the world around you.

God grant us peace in our society so that we may live in prosperity and proclaim the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all. To him be the glory. Amen.

Rev. Timothy Hartwig