During my Q&A last week with Pastor Dale Lowrimore, he told me it’s not a sin for police officers to kill people as long as they acted to preserve life.
Lowrimore is a full-time police chaplain for the county’s two largest law enforcement agencies. I asked him about officer-involved shootings and what he tells officers about “thou shall not kill.” We published a short answer with the Q&A on Friday. Here’s his long answer.
First, Lowrimore said the sixth commandment is better translated from Hebrew as “thou shall not murder.” Then he read me a section of the Bible (Romans 13:1) that talked about God ordaining people to execute wrath on His behalf:
Let every soul be subject under the higher powers, for there is no power but of God and the powers which are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Will thou then not be afraid of the power? Do thou that which is good, and thou shall have praise of the same. For he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he bears not the sword in vain, for he is a minister of god, a revenger to execute wrath, upon him that does evil.
Then Lowrimore gave me a little background on the passage. It’s was written for the New Testament by the Apostle Paul.
Contextually, you have to realize that when Paul wrote Romans, he was writing to Christians that were in Rome and they were under Roman authority, and the Roman legion, they were the police officers. Paul is telling the Christians, look, they’re the law enforcement agency where you live and you need to be respectful of them. He says they’re here for your good, they’re here for law and order, and you need to obey them.
Lowrimore read me the chapter again, this time adding his application to modern times.
Let every soul — every person — be subject under the higher powers — the police officer. For there is no power but of God and the police officers that are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the police officer resists the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive unto themselves damnation — or they’ll get what’s coming to them. For rulers — or police officers — are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Will thou then not be afraid of the police officer? Do that which is good, and you shall praise of the same. In other words, if you’re doing good, you don’t have anything to be afraid of. For he — the police officer — is the minister of God to thee for good. It’s interesting that God calls a police officer a minister. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he bears not the sword — today we use pistols — in vain, for he is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath, upon him that does evil.
Lastly, Lowrimore brought it all together.
There, God gives them their mandate. It’s OK if they have to use lethal force in defense of another. So when I put it in that context, that God has ordained them to use absolute force if necessary, it just dispels a lot confusion and angst in their heart (about officer-involved shootings).
So what do you think? Do you agree with Lowrimore’s reading of the Bible? I’m interested in your thoughts and I’m sure other readers will be, too. Please share your view in the comments section.
— KEEGAN KYLE