Trayvon Martin Case: A Biblical Perspective

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

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Sometimes, not always, this Blog focuses on a current event that is on the minds of many. Early on I recognized that the Trayvon Martin Case was such an event. My initial reaction was that I wanted to write on something else. I did not want to deal with this issue. But I realized that we must look upon issues like this from a biblical point of view.

Part of the story is clear: George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  His argument from beginning to end was that he used his pistol in self-defense. Many in our country saw this as a white (Hispanic) man killing because he hated blacks. At the end of the case, the lead attorney for the prosecution, Angela B. Corey said: “This case has never been about race… [or] about the right to bear arms,…We believe that this case all along was about boundaries and that George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.” (L.A. Times, 7-14-2013)

It is apparent that the jury was convinced that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. If they were right in their judgment, then Zimmerman was not guilty of the accusations brought by the prosecution. This is not to say that Zimmerman acted wisely or that he did not have other alternatives. However, it appears that he was attacked and that, in desperation, whether out of necessity—we do not know—he used his pistol to defend himself.

Respected legal authorities, including Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, have said, “This case should never have been brought.” He did not mean that Zimmerman was either right or noble. What he did mean was that there was not enough evidence to put him in prison for the better part of his life.

Unfortunately, a substantial group in our population, both black and white have reacted irrationally. They believe that an unseen and unproven underground river of prejudice and hatred against blacks exists in this country. This is not to say that we are free of all prejudices in the United States of America. To the degree that prejudices exist, they are misguided and even silly. But the idea that there is a substantial reservoir of malice toward blacks is simply wrong.

You may or may not agree with me. In either case I hope that I have helped you to think more clearly. Let us affirm some biblical principles:

1. There is no justification for racial prejudice. We are all created in the image of God: Genesis 1:27, So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

2. Taking the law in our own hands is wrong and undermining to civil government. Romans 12:19, Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

3. Hatred is evil. I John 2:9, He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. Hatred leads to evil deeds, and is destructive to the person who entertains hate. We are warned by scriptures, and by our own frailties, against taking judgment into our own hands—the outcome is to render evil for evil. We are taught by our Savior that we do not overcome evil with evil, we overcome evil with good!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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