The Scriptures denounce officials who abuse their authority to harm rather than protect the people they serve.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

The nation stands shocked, once again, by a video of horrific violence by police officers against a young Black man beaten to death—this time Tyre Nichols of Memphis.

We instinctively flinch from watching this video because most people with a functioning conscience intuitively know it to be evil. At this moment, Christians should acknowledge not only that the Bible condemns this sort of police behavior but also why.

Whenever a violent revelation like this occurs, some are immediately defensive, saying, “Not all police officers are like this; most are good.” And, of course, that is true; but that truth makes such actions even worse.

That’s why, among those I know, police officers are some of the angriest of everybody at this kind of behavior. They see it in the same way I might view preachers using the Bible to “justify” their financial grifting or sexual predation. I realize what they’re doing and, even further, how awful it is. Good police officers see such horrors the same way.

This killing would be a grave moral evil no matter what group of people carried it out. Tyre Nichols was a human being made in the image of God, and to take his life not only robs his family of their loved one but also assaults his Creator. But the fact that this violence was carried out by those entrusted with maintaining justice perverts the situation even more.

Police brutality is wrong not because the idea of policing is wrong. However one interprets Romans 13, we can all agree the apostle Paul acknowledged the legitimate authority of those charged with keeping order and restraining injustice. Paul recognized this in his own life. …

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