Our Neighbors and Truth

Consider the following scenario, which is completely hypothetical. The point is: **How much responsibility does the church place on us when, out of ignorance, people in power refuse to act?
[size=]Say Samuel is jaywalking. Upon reaching the other side of the street, he realizes he just jaywalked right up to a cop. Having been caught in the act, he approaches him in order to cooperate.

The police officer doesn’t write him up, though. Instead the cop asks him what he’s doing, and Samuel responds that he just jaywalked and the cop saw him do it. The police officer says it isn’t illegal and dismisses Samuel.

But the cop is wrong, and Samuel knows full well he is. In fact, he can quote the city ordinance.[/size]

The question is whether it’s Samuel’s responsibility to inform the cop that he’s mistaken. Sure, everybody’s first impulse would be to take advantage of the officer’s ignorance. Is that the right thing to do, though? There’s no doubt the cop is mistaken, but would the Church require Samuel to correct the officer and insist he write him up?

Perhaps the cop should have arrested Samuel. Would that have made Samuel happy? He sounds like some jerk who wants to bother a cop over his own ignorance. Or perhaps Sammy could jaywalk in traffic and save everyone the trouble. Sam irritates me and probably irritated the crud out of the cop who is more concerned about not getting shot at than to deal with someone who was jaywalking and shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place.

It’s Sam’s responsbility to NOT BREAK THE LAW in the first place. I guarantee you that unless the cop is Barney Fife himself, he has bigger thugs to worry about than some self-important Sam who sounds like a cop-baiter to me

What the Church requires is that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

I don’t think hypothetical Samuel would be required to correct the officer. He should just resolve to not jaywalk again, since he realizes it’s wrong. He can appreciate the officer’s stance as mercy from God.

I would say Samuel has done everything he’s required to do. Perhaps the cop will look up the ordinance later on and realize his mistake. Perhaps not, but Christians are not the world’s cops. We don’t want to go around correcting people’s errors unless they are serious or have impact on other people.


Christianity does not require masochistic scrupulosity. The cop may have meant the dismissal as a warning, or he may not know the law." And He asked them, “Which of you whose son or ox falls into a pit on the Sabbath day will not immediately pull him out?”
Do we really want God to write us up when we make a mistake? Just be more careful and realise that laws have a purpose.

The cop has the authority to make judgement calls. As with the law, the Church allows us to exercise our conscience when faced with moral decisions.

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