Honoring Police Officers

It’s popular to trash talk and put down police departments and officers in America today.  A few NFL players (see my previous blog) have refused to stand during the National Anthem due to perceived racism in police departments.  Riots in both small and large American cities have focused their anger on the police.   This growing anger has contributed to shootings of officers (in Dallas and other cities) and has put the lives of all police officers in serious risk and danger.

It is becoming popular to put down police officers.

But it’s wrong.

Let me explain by starting with a rather obvious (to me) truth.  Yes, there are some racist police officers and these officers have acted immorally, in some cases illegally, and in a few cases atrociously.  These officers need to be dealt with appropriately and immediately by their superior officers and by the courts.

But let me state another rather obvious (again, to me) truth:  The overwhelming majority of police officers are honest, hardworking, committed, unbiased, dedicated, competent, and fair.  I can’t point to specific statistics, but my personal experience tells me that 95% or more of our officers are what we used to call “the salt of the earth,” fine people who make good neighbors, good friends, good church members, and good citizens.  You might disagree with my percentage, but think about it.  What would you say?  It is 80%?  90%?  99%?

To trash a whole class of people due to the actions of a small minority is wrong.  If the judgment and anger were directed at people with a particular skin color, we would call it racism.  If the judgment and anger were directed at a particular sex, we would call it discrimination.  If the judgment and anger were directed at a religion or denomination, we would call it blatantly unfair.

It’s simply wrong to judge a large group of people by the actions of a few, even if the few act horribly.

There are a few ungodly teachers in America, but we accept the fact that most teachers are fine people who should be respected.  There are a few dishonorable doctors and nurses out there, but we don’t judge the profession by the actions of the few.  There are (I admit it) more than a few ungodly and immoral preachers out there, but we accept the fact (at least I hope you do) that most preachers are respectable.

It’s the only fair way to act.

And though I’ve used the examples of teachers and preachers and doctors, it’s really an unfair comparison.  Teachers work hard and long preparing the next generation of Americans.  Doctors work hard and long healing and teaching and helping their patients live healthy lives.  Preachers work hard and long deal with important doctrinal, emotional, spiritual, moral, Biblical, and even eternal issues.

But preachers and teachers and doctors in America don’t generally put their lives on the line every time they go to work.

Police officers do.

I concede that there are a few officers who need reprimand, correction, and dismissal.  And there are also a few who need to be arrested and tried for serious crimes.  And leaders who have protected guilty officers or who have failed to act should be held accountable.

And it’s fully acceptable to be angry and demand action in those particular cases.

But let’s not judge the whole by looking at the actions of a few.  It’s not right.  It’s not healthy.  It’s not fair.  It’s not Christian.   

Instead, let’s offer police officers our highest level of honor.  Treat them with respect when we interact with them.  Understand the stress and strain they are under when they pull over a car, intervene in a domestic assault, observe a crime, or respond to a plea for help.  Recognize the overwhelming challenge they face to make life-or-death decisions in a fraction of a second.  Obey them when they give us directives.  Defend them when their integrity is unfairly attacked.  Pray for them on a regular basis, and again when we see them on the street.

The Apostle Paul instructed the church in Rome, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”  (Romans 13:7, NIV)

We owe our officers–because of the work they do, the risk they take, and the responsibility they shoulder–both honor and respect.

It’s the right way to live and to act.


PS.  We will renew our efforts to pray for our own local police officers in the City of Avondale.  Our mission team will have the badge numbers available within a few weeks so that members can adopt–and agree to pray regularly for–an officer.  We do it anonymously, but we believe that God honors our prayers and our officers know we care for them and pray for them.

About Pastor Jack

Pastor Jack Marslender is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Avondale. He is married (Dawn) and is the father of Tina, Rebecca, Kimberly, Melinda, Angela, Maria, Kenneth, Kevin, and Lorissa. He is also the grandfather of Wyatt, Emilie, Everett, Olivia, Dylan, Charlotte, and Aiden.
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