What Happens When People Do What’s Right In Their Own Eyes

Written by Bill Thomas on June 3, 2020

Anyone familiar with the Bible will recognize Judges 17:6, which says, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”  This statement was made at the beginning of a series of chapters that described the moral decline of Israel as they simply did whatever they wanted to do without regard to what God expected.

When people do what they want to do, without regard to others and the consequences their actions bring, the result is moral decay leading to depravity.

Is there any better example of this than the events of the last two weeks?

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man was killed when police attempted to apprehend him on May 25, 2020. Former officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground by planting his knee on his neck until Floyd passed out and died. Chauvin and three other officers at the scene were fired. Chauvin has been arrested and charged. 

It seems clear to me that what happened to George Floyd was despicable. I believe he was murdered. Police brutality, while committed by a small number of law enforcement professionals, is horrific and unacceptable. It happens, as I see it, whenever police officers ignore training and protocols and do what they want to do. I don’t know of any police officers that defend it. Some are even taking a public stand against it. 

Peaceful protests have sprung up across the country to decry what happened to George Floyd. President Trump said it was  “a grave tragedy.” He continued, “It should never have happened. It has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief.” Though the president gets hammered by the hate-filled left no matter what he does, in my view, his sentiment is exactly right.

If the protests had remained protests, progress might have come from them. However, that isn’t what happened. Again, people are doing what they want to do without regard to consequences. Rioters and looters have hijacked this sobering, serious moment and turned it into a lawless riot. There is evidence that Antifa has a role in these acts of domestic terrorism. 

Cities across our country are burning. Law enforcement officers are under attack and business are being destroyed. Leaders in Democrat states seem loathe to confront rioters for fear of alienating people, though it is hard to see whom they might be alienating. The National Guard has been called in to some areas. Our nation burns as we struggle to find order. In my view, this is the outcome of people doing what they want without respect to who is hurt or the consequences.

What needs to be done?

As I see it, first, government officials must restore order. That applies to the rioters, looters, and also to those who abuse the power entrusted to them (police officers who abuse citizens). President Trump struck the right note in his speech on June 1, 2020. We are a nation of laws or we are no nation at all. There can be no tolerance or passivity when it comes to rioting and looting. That kind of action benefits no one and no cause. Likewise, though they don’t occur often, there can be no covering up acts of police brutality and violence.

Second, we have to recognize change comes from real relationships. While I suppose there is a desire for people to speak out, the social media posts and memes that are everywhere, as I see it, do little more than get lots of likes, retweets, and affirmation for the one posting it.

If real change is to happen, it will happen through genuine relationships. We must get to know people. See them, not as a “black life,” “blue life” or any other kind of “life,” but see them as a real person. This is George.  This is Breonna. This is Dave.

Third, opportunity to succeed in this country has to be available to everyone. Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate was at an all-time low for African Americans. In my opinion, policies that brought that kind of opportunity must continue.

Our country is at a crossroads at this moment. Will people continue to just do what they want, or will there be a return to a higher calling?


Bill Thomas
Bill Thomas lives in Washington, Missouri and is a professor at St. Louis Christian College. He's also on staff at First Christian Church in Washington, Missouri. He's authored two novellas, From the Ashes and The Sixty-First Minute published by White Feather Press of MI and three Bible studies, Surrounded by Grace, The Critical Questions and More and The Road to Victory published by CSS Publishing of OH.