“He who would seek revenge should dig a grave for two.” Jewish proverb
This week I wrote a letter to the editor of the West Australian newspaper disagreeing with the opinions of another Christian.
His letter basically stated that the death penalty was the only appropriate punishment for the Bali bombers and that this would be ‘God’s justice’ meted out to them. He quoted the OT and was pretty vitriolic in his comments towards a previous letter writer who had suggested death was not the only option.
I was reading the paper while sipping a long mach in Cranked Cafe and couldn’t help but respond. It was a ‘gut’ response rather than a much thought thru and deliberated upon letter.
My letter reads:
The same book Don Jackson cites to advocate the death penalty for Bali bombers also says ‘do not return evil with evil but overcome evil with good’. Which one is it? Which one will build a better world? Justice must be done – no question – but you have limited it to one response and called it ‘God’s justice’ when it actually sounds a lot more like ‘Don’s justice’.
I find the question of what to do with the Bali bombers a hugely vexed one with no easy solutions. I think the death penalty is
a neat and tidy, ‘easy’ solution. It removes them from the planet and they can kill no more…
However this action gives birth to many consequences. To kill these men is simply to return evil for evil – which in turn will get responded to by more evil and so on. Someone has to break the cycle. It may also serve to make them martyrs and heros – probably not the desire result either. But it won’t act to dissuade people from killing. And even if it did I would question whether it is an appropriate response.
In talking with Mike & Rachel the other night (when I dropped in for dinner and had an amazing prawn salad) Mike mentioned that all of our attempts at justice are only approximations. We are not God and can never get things perfectly right. While in this case there may be a clear situation of wrongdoing we are still approximating a response.
To be quite honest there is a part of me that thinks they should die and even more, they deserve to die, yet I find it hard to hold that position biblically. I don’t expect a secular world to hold any regard for the biblical story, and I recognise that we as Christians will even disagree on best responses at times.
The reason for my letter was not because I am an ardent ‘anti-capital punishment’ supporter (although I would definitely err on that side of things) but it was because sharp, black and white often simplistic responses based on Old Testament passages of scripture leave me cold and infuriated.
Life is rarely as simple as I hear it made out to be.download red letters free