Originally published on The Cripplegate on 2020 06 08 by Clint Archer https://thecripplegate.com/why-looters-loot/
Social media has been looping footage of rioting and looting of an unprecedented—almost bizarre—scale. I saw one lucky lady nonchalantly toting a cake she had looted from a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, and a man peeved that the giant TV he had just stolen couldn’t fit in his car.
What is going on?
There is something in human beings that craves justice. We are created in the image of our just and righteous Creator, and the imago dei with which our souls are imbued rages against injustice. This self-evident, universal experience of mankind is an effective argument against atheism. If there is no God, then on what basis do you declare an act of malevolence to be a “wrong” that calls to be righted?
When Cain killed Abel God declared ominously, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Gen 4:10). Nature itself reels under the cursed burden of murder unpunished.
Even the joyful bliss of Heaven harbors an eerie Shepard tone of unfinished business: the cry of unavenged martyrs aching for closure. “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:9-10). This isn’t bloodlust; it’s justice.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
So why do looters loot and rioters riot? How is a series of unbridled crimes of vandalism, theft, arson, and assault in any way righting the wrong of police brutality? What good could possibly come from provocative graffiti on veterans’ monuments, or defacing the Lincoln Memorial, or killing 82 (and counting) innocent bystanders and business owners of various races? These bewildering questions are wafting around like the fumes and smoke of the riots themselves.
But the criminal behavior of looters is not trying to right a wrong or bring justice to injustice. They are doing what they are doing for one simple reason: they can. They can commit an atrocity without fear of accountability.
Crime without consequence.
It’s what we saw with the Nazis, with the Stanford Prison experiment, with David and Uriah, and with any elementary school classroom when the teacher steps out. It’s what William Golding explored in Lord of the Flies. Humans are evil by nature and what keeps them in check is accountability, punishment, justice.
The news coverage today is an IMAX reboot of what happened when Rodney King’s assailants were acquitted. The LA riots didn’t begin on March 3, 1991 when King was mercilessly beaten by four policemen. The furor erupted on April 29, 1992, a half-hour after the acquittals were announced. The brutal treatment of King made people seethe; the lenient treatment of the police made people boil over.
When justice is absent, all bets are off and chaos reigns. That’s what’s happening now. Looters are acting out the world view they have been forced to adopt. As if to say, “Since there is apparently no accountability these days, let me at least get a new TV and some jeans, and I pity the fool who gets in my way. Since violence is the flavor de jour, I’ll take mine with a side of cheesecake.”
The unmistakable irony is, of course, that in killing innocent bystanders, the rioters have degraded themselves and their cause to the same sewer-level as the culprits of the very atrocity that they decried the day before. Like Orwell’s pigs, they have become indistinguishable from the men they rose up against.
Only Christians know that there is no such thing as denied justice. There may seem to be a delay, and we cry out with victims of centuries past, “How long oh Lord?” And scoffers may mock how patient we are willing to be. But justice is coming, and very soon.
Coming like a thief
2 Peter 3:9-10 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Christians anticipate a time when God will wrap the earth up, and all actions and reactions will be weighed (Revelation 20:11-15). Some wickedness might nimbly dodge the myopic gaze of Lady Justice, but the divine reckoning is inescapable.
So Christian, take comfort. God’s verdict and sentence will satisfy your longing for justice. Do what you can to achieve justice here on earth, but do not despair when evil seems to go unpunished. And rest assured that your inheritance is being kept for you in Heaven and cannot be looted.
In the meantime let us do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We do what we can to be part of the solution, but never despair when evil wiggles out of the arthritic grip of our justice system. Everyone will have their day in the eternal court. As Paul reminds us in Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Justice delayed is not justice denied.