11/6/08

Wrestling With The Word


I have been wrestling with the Word lately. As I shared the following with my family, my daughter told me not to wrestle too hard, or I may come away with a bad hip! (Gen. 32:25) Ah, the insight of youth. So, what was it that elicited that comment? In brief:

I remember growing up hearing people refer to themselves as hawks or doves when it comes to the issues of war, the death penalty, etc... I was always a bit of a hawk. Over the years I have been quite vocal in my support of the death penalty and for a "just" war.

Recently, as I have been examining the Scriptures more and more I am beginning to rethink this position. Now let me state I've never been a "warmonger" but I have not been opposed to justice being served in this life.

However this week I was confronted with numerous Scriptures that just came alive to me in a new way. First it was the Scriptures in Matthew that say, "Blessed are the meek", "Blessed are the merciful" and "Blessed are the peacemakers." (Matthew 5:5, 7, 9)

Then I read the part in Matthew 5:21-22 that talks about murder. While chewing on these passages of Scriptures I then was reminded of the women caught in the act of adultery. (John 8:3-11). This was a death penalty sentence at the time. Yet Jesus showing mercy did not condemn her. In fact He said if the accusers were without sin they should cast the first stone. They all left and Jesus told her to go and sin no more.

While my mind was being blow away by all this I realized....even a terrorist is not beyond God's redemption. Those who attack our countries and murder our friends and families are not beyond the reach of a loving Father. As much as I want to see justice done in this life I am coming to believe Jesus wants us to extend mercy more. To reflect Him.

So there you have it. I am slowly, slowly moving away from my stance as a hawk. I am starting to feel the death penalty is wrong. I am starting to reconsider the policies of war. I really am thinking.....what would Jesus do?

10 comments:

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

I think you are moving in the right direction. Thanks for your humility while wrestling with a difficult issue.

Michael B said...

Hi Rick,

Honestly, I think it is better if criminals remain alive in prison.

Not only might they realise how long hell might be, but unlike when they are in hell, God might work in them and give them a repentant heart and faith in Christ.

As far as war, I think that it is biblical if it is on just grounds, not selfish.

In Christ,

Michael

abond said...

That's a tough one, isn't it? The practical twist on the law vs. grace issue.
Personally, I am comforted by the frequent biblical reminders that He is our sovereign Lord and judge. It requires an at of faith to forgive - To trust God to be just and do justice, even when we can not see it.
I can't speak for national policy, but on a personal level it is good to know that the call to forgiveness is crystal clear.

Paul Wilkinson said...

What counts here is not so much which position you end up at -- although that's important -- but that you're willing to allow scripture to shape and inform your opinions and you're open to the possibility of the Bible modifying a long held viewpoint. That's what the Word should do in every area of our lives.

Fred Aron said...

Personally I believe that authority is still held by the king(gov), but perticualy in the case of the lady that Christ showed mercy to, is more of the issue of Lynch Mob justice which was(and in some places still is) common in that day. I spend my time working in the Federal Gov, in the Justice dept, and the cases I get to review do make me fully believe to my core that a man can forfeit his right to breathe and can be truley evil. I believe we as citizens should not take justice in our own hands, but Romans 13:1-5 says "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." I do believe as a citizen one should look for the peaceful solution when ever able, but I also know that there are those who do not value words or threats, only force. I strongly believe that if a man/men threatens your family, lethal force is not only ok, but your responsibility as you are the responsible for their safety. I spent two years being educated by Mennonites on this and have had to study both sides to find my position. I pray, I lock my doors, I have a sweet but big dog, but also have a 12 gauge and sidearm at hand. Being that I review criminal reports regarding sexual/pedophile/slave trading/drug related crimes for 40 hours a week, I know what is out there, and what man is capable of. I do believe that more of the convicted cases should end with a more final resolve.

Anonymous said...

I have watched beheadings (in the Middle East), shootings and hangings but my main concern has been the fact that there is always a possibility of executing the wrong person. I do believe in the legitimacy of just wars - not unjust ones like Iraq and Afganistan. There is genocide in Congo and I believe it is right for the UN to go in and defend the defensless.

RDA said...

I want to thank each of you for commenting on this issue. I cannot say I have reached solid conclusions yet. This is a journey for me.

Some of you have said a just war is ok. I would invite some Scriptures here as I continue to wrestle with this.

Brian said...

The Bible talks about "just wars". I believe Iraq is a just war, my wife does not believe in war at all. David committed sin with Bathesheba at a time when kings go off to war.

Any war that happens that we are a part of as a nation should come under scrutiny. That being said only God knows if it is truly the right decision.

I appreciate your honesty and willingness to open your heart for all to see.

God Bless you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving.

Brian

Anonymous said...

In response to Fred Aron... I'm assuming you are a Christian, so I'll write something in another perspective: you're in your house and are robbed. You can only assume that the robber is not saved. You, however, are saved. You shoot him in self defense. He goes to Hell. Where's the God in that? What about "love your neighbor as yourself?" What about, "No greater love is there than a man lay down his life for his friend?" What about "turn the other cheek?" Isn't it worth it to die and go to Heaven so that someone can have the opportunity to do the same?

RDA said...

Thanks for the replies everyone. Anonymous you posted an interesting question. I know I would do everything within my power to protect my family....taking a life though? Not if I could incapacitate him another way.

Tough call.