1 Peter 2:13-14 (NASB)
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
We as believers are called to submit to human governmental institutions. This submission or yielding to the lead of these authorities is not merit-based. We do not respect and honor them because they earned our submission, but because that authority was delegated to them by our God, and it is for His sake that we then submit (Rom. 13:1). The chapter actually goes on to say that those on whom God places this authority has been ordained by God to be ministers of social justice and civic righteousness. Yes, the same way ministers are ordained by God to serve His people, those in authority are ordained by God to carry the might/sword of civic righteousness and civil defense.
We honor these authorities for the sake of our Lord, and for conscience sake (Rom. 13:5). In doing so we honor human life and support intolerance of those who would murder human life. Our subjection then is evidence of our love of Christ’s Lordship over us. Our submission to them stands until it conflicts with God’s commands, or if God forbids us from doing something that a civil magistrate commands. Herein we affirm the reason we submit to those in authority because they are answerable to the One from whom they received their delegated authority.
This kind of honor must be shown in speech, online kindness, gracious treatment of those in these positions, and the showing of honor towards those in authority. That is why we speak to the police in the honorific “Officer.” We don’t call them names, slurs, or refer to them in slang. I chose to believe that majority of officers we are likely to meet will never intentionally pursue a case against an innocent person. Yet, the US has seen several cases of innocent people locked up for many, many years. The Innocent Project even shows that 25% of people that were proven innocent based on DNA evidence were convicted based on the statement they made to the police.
Now, herein we have to understand that the Scriptures do not say we need to trust the government. Honor or submit, yes, but not trust. We hold to our privilege under the law. The majority of the time, we are facing people of great courage and character. Yet, at times, we will also encounter those that abuse their position and are of lesser character. Nonetheless, those in authority have been ordained by the Lord to carry the sword.
Herein we as American Christians have the freedom of speech that our Constitution affirms, but will refrain from some of those "free words" for the sake of showing honor. Also, on the basis of the Fifth Amendment, given to us in the Bill of Rights, we are granted the protection from any need to answer questions from those in authority (especially the police), if the truth might be used to help create the misleading impression that we were somehow involved in a crime that we did not commit.
The Supreme Court of the United States stated (Ullmann v. United States, 350 U.S. 422, 426 (1956)), that “too many, even those who should be better advised, view this privilege as a shelter for wrongdoers. They too readily assume that those who invoke it are either guilty of a crime or commit perjury by claiming the privilege.”
Pleading the 5th is not put into our Bill of rights for the sake of making it hard for evil people to be convicted, but so that innocent people would not be entrapped or become associated with criminal behavior. That is why we as believers must become people who do not talk to the police. Assuming we are innocent of criminal pursuits, we can under no circumstances “tell our story” when asked by the police to answer a couple of simple questions.
Again, the United States Supreme Court (in Ohio v Reiner, 532 U.S. 17, 20 (2001)(internal punctuation and citations omitted)) stated: One of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent men who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances. Truthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as those of wrongdoers, may provide the government incriminating evidence from the speaker's own mouth.”
My brothers and sisters, we are not on some police watch list currently and prayerfully I hope we never are, but understanding how we need to respond when those in authority knock on our home doors, walk into our church buildings, or pull us over on the road, is vital. Our response: “Thank you very much Officer, but no thank you.” Don’t talk to the police.
Regent University Law Professor James Duane said (1) with all due respect (remember that is our Christian response), (2) I will never talk to a Police officer under any circumstances. He said in the many years he has practiced law, along with the advice of all his colleagues in the law profession, there has never been a situation where it was a good idea to talk to the police. Here is a link to Prof. Duane’s 25-minute talk on the subject, and a veteran police interrogator’s response to his talk. I have summarized Prof. Duane’s top reasons for never to talk to the police below.
The 7 reasons never to talk to the Police.
1. There is no way it can help you.
You cannot talk your way out of being arrested.
You cannot give them information that will help you in a trail.
What you tell the police is only used and offered in a case against you by the police.
Under the rules of evidence, even if it's exculpatory, it cannot be used to help you. (“it's ruled as hearsay”).
Whatever you say to the police can and will be used against you.
2. If you are guilty, and even if you are innocent, your admitting of guilt won’t bring you any benefit in return.
What’s the rush? Why talk to the police without your lawyer present? Wait to talk to the provided legal advisor.
If you wait, sometimes there are arrangements of payment, or plea-deal with lesser sentencing time, etc. that can be made.
3. Even confessing to stuff the police already knows is helpful to the police.
If they mess-up an investigation, without any “confession” the case gets thrown out. But with you saying something… it helps the case against you.
In 25% of the cases (The Innocence Project) where DNA proved the person’s innocence, they were found guilty by delivering incriminating statements, or confessions.
4. Even if you are innocent, and deny your guilt, and mostly tell the truth (getting some details not perfectly right), or get carried away in telling something, or tell a little lie, that will be enough to get you in serious trouble.
Even if you tell only the truth, you could give the police some information to use against you.
5. Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth, and do not tell the police anything incriminating, there is still a chance that your answers can be used against you if the police don’t recall his/her testimony with 100% accuracy.
6. Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the police anything incriminating and your statement is videotaped, your answers can be used against you if the police don’t recall the questions with 100% accuracy.
7. Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the police anything incriminating and your entire interview is videotaped, your answers can still be used against you if the police have any evidence, even mistaken or unreliable evidence, that could prove or bring serious doubt to any of your statements as being false.
I hope this will be helpful to all my brothers and sisters in the Lord. In the past, it has been my privilege to serve with an elder of our church who served in the police. I deeply respect who he is and how he served us all within his profession. Many officers serve the Lord with us and attend worship services. This blog is not intended to rob us of meaningful fellowship with our brothers and sisters that serve. We are to honor them. I write though because we are wise to the laws of this country and for the sake of our witness and our innocence, we will not speak to the police under any circumstances.