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The thin line between rights and crime


Even in the crib most of us know about crossing the thin line between our privileges into the regions of disobedience. Stretching our personal rights is one of those personal autonomy things registered in our free will. Even sweet, yielded children are wired to do their own thing regardless of the rules established for our well-being. As we age and grow these infractions take on more serious boldness and consequences. The degrees to which we'll stretch personal boundaries has been one of the more shocking truths in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. It's nothing new. We've witnessed many similar occurrences, when we humans will cross that thin line and enter the world of criminal behavior.


The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States covers a lot of ground in establishing our personal rights.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the

free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of

the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of

grievances.


The "right of the people peaceably to assemble" opens the door to protests against perceived intrusions of the government in our personal freedoms. Throughout our national epoch Americans have gathered to protest injustice, issues critical to segments of the population, and events deemed harmful by our diverse factions. Our people have protested voting rights, government prohibitions, police brutality, racial prejudice, and any number of legal or social issues affecting portions of our populace. Many instances record people crossing the thin line separating lawful protest from criminal behavior. That has been clearly obvious in recent weeks. We've seen the horrible video recordings of massive looting, destruction of business and personal property, burning of buildings, defacing monuments, advances against official government headquarters, and even attacks against police and safety personnel. They are tragic and sad evidences of our daring challenges to that thin line between rights and crime.


Of course the Christian or biblical worldview addresses this illegal behavior. Up front is the instruction of Romans 13. Christians are expected to submit and honor those in official capacities and their rulings for the common good. The Apostle Paul wrote---


Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except

from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists

the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur

judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no

fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his

approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he

does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries

out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to

avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay

taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all

what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is

owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13: 1-7, ESV


The American system of law and justice was established by our founders on these biblical precepts. As law they should be honored by everyone holding citizenship. Crossing that thin line between our rights and criminal responses should be anathema to every American. We should expect authorities to enforce these abuses. Even more, our population should weigh our disdain of such illegal behavior when we go to the polls at election time.


Today some elements of our society are attempting to abandon our police departments and legal authorities because of the actions of those who cross that thin line, millions of them. We citizens should stand with those entrusted with the care and safety of our people. And, we should obey those restrictions that keep us on the right side of that thin line.


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