Looting has turned both the flooded and the unflooded streets of New Orleans into states of lawlessness. There are even reports of New Orleans Police driving looters out of stores and then piling merchandise into their own vehicles. Police have also been reported to have broken into car dealers and driven off with SUVs, supposedly commandeered for their "police work."
In some precincts 30-40% of officers have reportedly "quit" and simply stopped doing their job at all, leaving the isolated and besieged citizenry to fend for themselves.
What is it that drives men and women to act in such a way? Sin? Of course. But the nature of that "sin" is complex and convoluted.
If I was protecting my family under the circumstances we are seeing in New Orleans, and if my family was going hungry, I would "loot." Of course I would.
I would justify this as follows: Normally I would go down to the store to buy what I need. Today, there is no one there in the store to take my money. I will take what I need, keep track of it and try to pay the owner back later.
Well, that's probably what I would do. Is this really stealing? Technically and legally, yes. Morally? I'm not sure. Jesus' disciples plucked wheat from a field and ate it. This was done on the Sabbath, which got him a lot of criticism for having allowed his disciples to "thresh" wheat on the day of rest. I doubt, however, that Jesus owned the field from which he took the wheat. Was this stealing? Did Jesus sin?
Even David took the shew bread from the presence of the Lord when he was hungry. Was this sin? Or was it morally right to use available food to satisfy hunger that cannot be satisfied in any other way?
Is it morally right for someone to hoard food...far more than they need for themselves...while others are starving nearby? Do those who are starving have a moral "right" to force their way into the person's home and take that food in order to survive?