A Pentecostal View on Human Government and Law Enforcement
How should Pentecostals approach human government generally and, more specifically, law enforcement agencies and personnel? First, we follow Romans 13:1-7, which advocates respect and submission rather than opposition to governmental authorities, acknowledging that “the powers that be are ordained of God.” This statement doesn’t mean every governmental action is appropriate and shouldn’t be corrected, but it means God has ordained government and Christians should uphold the rule of law in a fallen, imperfect world. (See also I Peter 3:13-17; I Timothy 2:1-2.) God has given humanity the right and responsibility to establish and maintain human governments committed to goodness and justice. The form of government may vary from nation to nation, but Christians should support the following basic principles:
1. Every human should be treated with respect and dignity, and every human life should be held as sacred.
2. Citizens in our pluralistic society should have the right and freedom to think, speak, and act as they choose, as long as they extend the same rights and freedoms to others, respect the property rights of others, and do not harm other individuals or society.
3. A commitment to truth and fairness should inform the writing and enforcement of laws. We should reject corruption, partiality, and prejudice.
4. The government is responsible to maintain peace and security.
Second, the task of governance, including law enforcement, is a collective one. The authority of human government is not located in the person of individual officials, but in the principles just outlined. Likewise, authority to enforce law is not vested in officers as individuals but is based upon the principles they collectively represent and defend. Therefore, no individual government official is above the law but rather must be held accountable to the law without partiality or preference.
There can be room for improvement in even the best systems of government. Moreover, overt injustice and corruption are common in many parts of the world. Thus, both affirming and dissenting voices should enjoy free expression. Under no circumstances, however, should an individual attempt to take justice into his or her own hands to perpetrate violence or kill in the name of reform or retribution. Because we are all affected by the way governance is implemented and laws enforced, and we are called to live out our faith in this world, we should work to promote truth, peace, and justice in government.
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