By Rev. Lakeya Stewart, M.Div. D.Min, ABD
“Obey them that have rule over you!” Most people that use this phrase are really referring to scriptures like that found in Romans 13:1-4. Verse 1 of chapter 13 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Our government is set up in such a way that we have military personnel and law enforcement to help protect us. This physical protection that has been “appointed by God” does not slight God nor does it attempt to undermine the power and authority that God possesses. The origins of this need for physical protection can be traced back to Adam and Eve with “The Fall” when humanity became separated from God and in turn became in need of a savior. Into the world entered sin and the desperate need to defend oneself.
My twin sister is a police officer. She is a committed Christian whose walk with God has not been compromised as a result of her position as police officer. What the scripture says in Exodus the 20th chapter concerning “Thou shalt not kill” is better translated from the Hebrew text as “Thou shalt not murder”. Here lies an argument about semantics. The true argument that Christians should grapple with is ones motivation and reason for killing. If my loving husband kills an intruder for unlawfully entering our home, he is not at fault. There are biblical principles and concepts that support this notion.
Now, concerning the church… what if an unruly guest enters into God’s house, a worship service, and attempts to shoot the pastor? Is it the biblical or social responsibility of the deacons to physically “protect” the pastor? Do we have the legal and spiritual right/authority to protect within the church organization as a husband would have the legal right to protect his family? This really depends on how a churches constitution is written and how one interprets such documents.
I once watched the reality T.V. show “Preachers of L.A.” During an episode, Bishop Clarence McClendon was featured on a particular episode discussing his need for bodyguards and/or security detail. I remember feeling as if he was doing “too much” with the bodyguard. My perspective did not change until I read the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker. Reading and hearing about the realities of this world that we live in made me realize just how WISE it is for churches to put in place plans, steps and procedures to handle issues of security that may arise in a church.
We must remember that there are two sets of laws. There are Spiritual laws as well as Civil laws. As Christians, it is necessary to abide by both. The spirit of God leads us. We know that in the past the Bible has been used to spiritually and physically abuse people (slavery). We must be wise in our dealings and should pray to God for direction in all things including church and ministry security.
Rev. Lakeya Stewart, M.Div. D.Min, ABD