Monday, November 07, 2005

A Christian Perspective on the Paris Riots

The New Testament book of First Peter encouraged the Christians of Asia Minor (and encourages us today) with these words:
For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (First Peter 2:13-17)
Christians see themselves as "aliens and strangers" in this world, as Peter writes just before this passage, because as followers of Jesus Christ, our real citizenship is in heaven. But we acquiesce to government authority for the good of all. We acknowledge that in a world suffering from the effects of human sin, not all will willingly respect the rights, prerogatives, or property of their neighbors.

The Christian accepts governments as gifts from God meant to bring the blessings of civil order in a world unwilling to voluntarily live directly under God's rule of love for God and love for others. Without civil order, there can be no justice.

When governments are unjust, Christians may feel compelled to challenge their governments for the injustices. But they're to do so peacefully for as long as is possible. (As was exemplified in Martin Luther King, Jr.)

What's going on in France, where young Muslims are rioting in the streets, may be readily explained. By most accounts, Muslims are treated with everything from indifference to hostility by the police and by French society.

But the violence cannot be justified or countenanced by the government there.

In a way, France now becomes another theater in the Global War on Terrorism. But it is more subtle than the one in Afghanistan, for example. Not all the young people engaged in civil unrest in France are aligned with Osama bin Laden. But they have the strong potential of becoming part of his Islamofascist horde. The French government has been guilty of creating a breeding ground for future terrorist cells. Now, it must reverse that course and commit itself to...
  • Integrating the five-million Muslims who are in the country into the life of the country. Many of the young North Africans and Arabs I have heard interviewed today consider themselves French and want to feel part of their adopted homeland.
  • Enforcing the law in ghettoized Muslim communities in Paris and elsewhere. From reports I've read today, the police had given up on being effective in maintaining order in these enclaves. They gambled that if they left the Muslim ghettos alone, all would be well. That "malign neglect" isn't good for anyone and no doubt gave rise to the belief on the part of many Muslim young men that they could begin this wave of violence and get away with it.
Without order, there can be no justice. The French government must be about establishing both order and justice now. From a Christian perspective, doing so is their most fundamental obligation.

[A few tangentially related posts from the past you might want to check out:
Fatwa Demonstrates World is at War with Fascists, Not Muslims
Can Democracy Take Root in the Muslim World?
Living In, But Not Of the World (Part of my 'Habits of Heart' series)
Can the Person Who Puts Jesus First Rule Fairly on Constitutional Questions? (Here, I delve into a Christian view of government)]


Dave Lucas said...

Excellent commentary, Mark! I've referenced it and incorporated a small excerpt into a post on my blog HERE.

Mark Daniels said...

Thanks so much for your comments and for the link. By the way, I just added one line to the very end of this post in order to clarify and summarize more adequately.

Your radio show seems interesting.

Thanks again!


Lores Rizkalla said...

Insightful perspective, Mark. Excellent post!

Mark Daniels said...

Thank you, Lores!