Peace Without Justice

The most infamous riot in Jesus day was during His trial before Pilate. The chief scribes and religious leaders stirred up the crowd at the trial (Luke 23:4; John 19:4; Matthew 27:20; Mark 15:11). The very people who shouted praises for Jesus only days before now shouted, “Crucify Him” (Mark 11:9-10; Mark 15:13-14).

Riots always have an instigator with an agenda. Riots are usually fueled with inflammatory speeches, exaggerated details, and the cooperation of a few to make the situation seem spontaneous. The mission is to slowly manipulated people by social pressure into believing the endeavor is righteous. However, the moral person will most likely regret the consequences later.

Rioting is a state of lawlessness, which the Bible condemns (1 John3: 4). People who deal in lawlessness think rules don’t apply to them. Law-abiding people can become inflamed with fury and self-righteousness and decide their cause is worth breaking legal, moral and ethical laws. The leaders of lawlessness place themselves above the law. Anger, when motivated by vengeance, is never a good thing (James 1:20).

Peace cannot exist without Justice. This statement is rooted in Christian teaching. Social unrest has followed Israel throughout history. Social justice appears in the Old Testament in Amos and Isaiah whose call for justice and equality is a constant theme. The New Testament also attests to social unrest when Jesus turned over the tables of the moneychangers. Some think in Romans 13, gives revolutionaries the right to resist tyrants using violent means, for example, the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War. Therefore, repeated injustice was grounds for revolution.

So on one hand, there is a concern for justice for the oppressed, and on the other hand, there are governmental laws to be upheld. Destructive riots are not an effective tool to achieve the goals of a movement. Riots alienate sympathizers and the one’s who affect policy. However, violent protests do get their share of social attention, and from these ongoing present demonstrations, whether peaceful or violent, there will be reforms forthcoming.