I have started on the Yoder book, and will blog on it later today when I'm home from work. But in the meantime, Andi and Jeanne are both blogging on a story that has Yoder's issues written all over it.
A Christian police officer in New York is on trial for disobeying a direct order in refusing to go along with a clean-up-the-streets initiative that gives the homeless the options of a shelter or jail. I agree with Andi and Jeanne that he seems like a great guy, and I wouldn't mind having him working my precinct.
But there's a larger, thornier problem here: do we really want police officers deciding not to arrest people based on friendship and personal conviction? This is, after all, basically the same reason why policemen have historically failed to arrest lynchers, gay-bashers, wife-beaters and misbehaving fellows officers. So this is nothing really new, except that this officer's convictions are of the sort a liberal can love.
Back in that 2002 discussion on Christian pacifism at Clutter that I linked in the last post, one question that came up is whether there are jobs that Christians simply shouldn't do. Telford's attitude is yes, there are, and police officer is one of them. This was not only because the job sometimes necessitates violence, but because it demands obedience to an authority that is not God. The article spells it out:
To the Police Department, an order is an order, and officers are not given leeway to choose which ones they follow.
"The Police Department is a quasi-military organization where disobeying a superior's lawful order is a serious offense," said Paul J. Browne, the deputy commissioner for public information.
St. Paul, in Romans 13, (in)famously enjoined Christians to obey civil authorities, as they were "instituted by God." However, it is clear from elsewhere in the epistles, as well as in Paul's own behavior, that he did not mean that Christians should obey laws when they violate the faith (such as worshipping the emperor). Officer Delacruz disobeyed the emperor for what seems to me like a good reason, but he did this after swearing an oath to uphold and defend the emperor, so to speak.
Anyway, I imagine Yoder has much to say about this kind of thing. I'll read more and get back to the subject.Posted by Camassia at July 02, 2004 10:56 AM | TrackBack