Lawlessness and why it’s not such a riot

“The level of lawlessness was shocking and wholly inexcusable”, declared the joyously named Lord Judge in defence of long sentences for offenders in the recent riots.

But lawlessness was exactly the ill-thought-through ‘philosophy’ the rioters were championing, with one claiming, “It’s all about showing the police we can do what we want.”

Such a simple remark spoke piquantly of a general lack of understanding of the need for the rule of law. A PC culture where we encourage young people to question authority has somehow morphed into a mindless hatred for all authority, whether good or bad. It appears that rather than being taught how to discern good government from bad, many are simply receiving the message of anarchy for anarchy’s sake.

But young people don’t need encouragement to rebel. It is the right of passage for all adolescents to assert their independence by contesting the boundaries and authority that they accepted as children.

On good authority

The adolescent rejection of authority often extends to Christianity. Due to boring Sunday school experiences or skewed media stereotypes, many people view God as a vindictive and dogmatic authority figure and so, understandably, choose to rebel against him.

Christians need to challenge these views. The bible tells us that we are all children of God and loved by him, so we can come to him without fear, knowing that his chastisement is for our own good:

‘Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.’ He corrects us, not to hurt us but to protect us. Discipline in its purest form simply means to make us into disciples.

Land of libertarian dreams

Mitch Benn, musical comedian extraordinaire, explained the downfalls of rejecting all authority rather eloquently in song:

“There’s a land far away, where men are truly free.
With no government upon their backs they walk in liberty.
And they stand up on their own two feet and live just how they please.
‘Til they get killed in some tribal conflict or die of a curable disease.
In Somalia, Somalia – land of libertarian dreams…”

Authority is not intrinsically bad.

To set the oppressed free

As for the accusation of God’s laws being dogmatic, Jesus himself challenged the religious people’s ultra-strict adherence to the law when they accused him of picking grain to eat on the Jewish day of rest, saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

God’s laws are there for our good. King David wrote, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

I can see many instances in my own life where God’s laws, although frustrating at times, have protected me, and, like David, I’m incredibly thankful.

Jesus said of his father, “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” So let’s do the same, not in fear and trembling, but secure in God’s perfect, liberating love.