How should Christians view the “defund the police” movement?

In response to several recent examples of race driven police brutality, signs that say “Defund the Police!” are popping up. Thankfully, what most people mean by “defund the police” is “reduce funding to police departments,” not “get rid of the police entirely.” But, since “significantly reduce funding to police departments and find other ways to enforce order in society” doesn’t fit well on a sign, they go with “defund the police.”

Sadly and terrifyingly, though, there are some who actually think disbanding police departments would be a good solution. In contrast, the idea that society could function without the police is sheer lunacy to most people.

Who is right? Or, more accurately and more importantly, what does the Bible say?

According to Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, one of the core responsibilities of government is to promote order and restrain/punish evil. The primary way governments accomplish this in modern society is some type of police force. The police exist to enforce the laws the government passes, to deter crime and arrest criminals, to protect the citizenry, and to encourage peacefulness. As Christians, we should view the police as God-ordained, and beyond that, as a gift from God.

What would a world without police look like? Yikes!

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6)

“…the wickedness of man was great in the earth…every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)

“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32)

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)

Only a person with a decidedly unbiblical understanding of human nature could propose the elimination of police departments. Are there inherent and systemic problems with some police departments? Yes. Do many or perhaps all police departments need to be restructured? Yes. Should governmental budgets be adjusted to divert some responsibilities currently given to the police to other departments that could likely perform those tasks better? Likely.

Significantly defund the police? No way. Eliminate the police? I’m out!

S. Michael Houdmann

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How should Christians view the “defund the police” movement?