Christian Living · Culture · Culture & Society · Faith · Family · God's Law

Seeking the Root Cause for the Baltimore Riots

Over the past several days Fox News has provided continual 24 hours of coverage of the Baltimore rioting, reminiscent of the 1968 rioting from April 6 to April 14, following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When the social, political, and legal experts are brought to the Fox news channel to explain why the Baltimoreans are rioting, many opinions are given, after acknowledging that the spark for the riots was the violent death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police on April 12, 2015. Not so widely reported is the fact that Gray had a criminal record that involved drug-related offenses, the destruction of property, and second degree assault. He had been involved in twenty criminal court cases, five of which were still active at the time of his death.  Mr. Gray also had resisted arrest when confronted by the police.

Setting aside the victim, attention has been completely turned to those who are using Gray’s death to riot. What is causing the rioting in Baltimore when other individuals have been hurt by police without rioting breaking out? One example is the case of Walter Scott in North Carolina who was shot in the back and killed by a police officer on April 7, 2015. There has been no rioting in North Carolina. So why are Baltimoreans engaging in acts of self-destruction?

One prominent psychologist said the reason for the rioting in Baltimore is because the young people are full of self-hatred and self-loathing. They are seizing an opportunity to express this inner rage. Well, that is an interesting perspective, but highly suspect.

A social expert opined that the root cause for the rioting in Baltimore is lack of education. Therefore, parents need to be given the opportunity to have school choice vouchers. The point was pressed that poor education has led to the black community destroying their own neighborhoods and infrastructure, as if these people do not even possess enough knowledge to understand that if they smash store windows, loot the merchandise and burn the buildings where they live, they will cut off the source of their housing, food, clothing, and medicine. Are the Baltimoreans really that uneducated? Are they really that ignorant? Or, does the reason for rioting rest somewhere else?

In the Fox news quest for why people were rioting in Baltimore it was stated that the cause was the breakdown of law and order. Judge Andrew Napolitano addressed this facet of the rioting. The absence of law and order is without question. The television cameras pan the police force, which is sworn to protect people and property, abandoning its responsibilities for long periods of time. As a result, individuals were free to slash and burn, rob and loot at will.

It was noted by Fox news that there was the absence of wise leadership from the president of the United States to the local mayor. That is true. Both said very unwise things. The president said the riots in Baltimore could be blamed first on the police themselves, and then on Republicans for not funding his programs. The first assertion may prove to be incorrect. There is a report to that another prisoner inside the van heard Mr. Gray thrashing about in the van and concluded he was trying to hurt himself. It is also possible that Mr. Gray had a seizure that led to a self-inflicted spinal cord injury. A medical report would shed light on that possibility.

The second assertion of the president is demonstrably unfair when it is realized that since the 1960’s 22 trillion dollars have been spent on the War on Poverty, developing the Great Society, and pouring money into entitlement programs enjoyed by so many in Baltimore. The president overlooked the fact that Liberal Democratic policies and politicians have been guiding the people of Baltimore for the past fifty years.

Just as unwise as the words of the president were the remarks of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The mayor said on Saturday, April 25, 2015, “I’ve made it very clear that I, um, work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their, uh, right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we, uh, try to make that they were protected from the cars and the other, y’know, things that were going on. We also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well.” And there you have it. Space was given to rioters to destroy property by the political leadership of the city. How foolish, how unwise can leadership be?

In the search to understand why the Baltimore Black Community is destroying itself, the breakdown of the home was examined. Where were the parents of all the young people out on the streets? One mother, Toya Graham, did spot her sixteen year old son involved in the rioting and went after him with shouts, curses, and smacks to his body that were heard and seen around the world. Good for her. Send in the moms. Send in the dads too. But wait. Where are the fathers in the community of the Black Baltimoreans? The answer is disheartening. More than 60 percent of African American babies in Baltimore are born without a married mother and father. Many fathers of black children are incarcerated themselves for crimes against society. They are irresponsible. Toya Graham is a single mother of six. She is doing the best she can, but it is not enough. The family unit needs to be intact, not broken apart leaving the children to their own devices.

While a poor self-image, inadequate education, the breakdown of civil law and order, the absence of wise political leadership, and the breakup of the home are all contributing factors to the Baltimore Riots, not one pundit offered the real root cause for the Black Baltimoreans doing what they were doing, because the root problem is spiritual. To understand the rioting in Baltimore involves understanding the natural corruption of the human heart. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19).

If Americans really want to understand the Baltimore riots they must begin with the human heart and address the issue of its terrible condition. The Bible teaches that man is born physically alive but spiritually dead in trespasses and sin. Because individuals are sinners by nature, and by choice, they express the natural depravity of the heart unless there is divine intervention.

From birth, in childhood, and throughout life, individuals need the Lord. They need to know that the wages of sin is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death. They need to know that God has provided a way for a person to enjoy an abundant life in time, and eternal life after death by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They need to know they must repent of their natural sin and be born again. They need to know that the new birth is a divine undertaking. It is not something the natural man can do. Those who are spiritually dead cannot convert themselves any more than a corpse can raise itself from the dead. “A stone rolling down the hill cannot by its own effort reverse its course, so fallen human beings cannot in their own strength return to God” (The Concordia Pulpit). People need the Lord. The rioters in Baltimore need the Lord.

The rioting must stop, and it will stop when the presence of God is once more recognized, and individuals are willing to accept personal responsibility, and live out the ethics of the Christian life. The Word of God would teach the rioters to stop stealing (Ex. 20:15), make restitution for the damage they have done (Luke 19:8), respect the law (Rom. 13:1), honor their parents (Ex. 20:12), respect women in marriage (Gen. 2:24), get an education (Prov. 4:7), and love God with all their heart (Mark 12:30).

In order to change the behavior of the rioters, it is necessary to change their hearts, and that is a spiritual work of grace to be done.

Apart from understanding and acting upon this, the root cause of the rioting will remain. The absence of God in the lives of individuals will lead to more manifestations of the face of evil. The face of evil is cowardly, reflected in the hoodies being worn by the rioters. They are all moral cowards. The face of evil is destructive. The face of evil is horrible. The face of evil becomes normal behavior apart from the Lord.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

Alexander Pope

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