Saturday, April 02, 2005

Mule Day

Today is Mule Day in historic Columbia, TN. I ran the Mule Day Kick 5k in a worse time than I expected... though 2 different guys with GPS told me that the course was 3.23 miles, not 3.1, so maybe I did better than I thought.

I've been reading poetry today. Thats alright since the cold weather of the UK decided to follow us to Tennessee. The temp at race time was 45 degrees F, and the high is supposed to be around 53. I thought it was April.

Now I'll make a belated response to BK's musings on Romans 13, justice, and the death penalty.

1) Romans 13 - Like any good historian, BK notes the several evils done by various governments and leaders over the centuries using Romans 13 as a justification. He's right. But that doesn't change the text. And BK hints that he thinks that the text seems to indicate some justification for capital punishment. His problem is with the author, Paul, and not the text (but he admits it freely). His reasoning follows that of much of modern biblical scholarship in creating a sharp distinction between Paul's thinking and Jesus'. However, new insights are being made into this subject, with NT Wright having the best stuff to say about it, IMHO.

2) Justice - No doubt that Jesus was a "turn the other cheek" kind of guy, all the way to his own death. However, from a state perspective, there is a difference between mercy and justice. If you steal my car and I forgive you, the state may or may not have the ability to show mercy. As a Christian, I have an obligation to show mercy and forgiveness to you. However, if you steal my car, and I forgive you but still want my car back, the state would harm me by offering you mercy by allowing you to keep the car. State forgiveness and mercy to one party quickly becomes oppression of another party. The state should follow Jesus' concern for justice, making sure that those who are wronged are not ignored. I firmly believe that, if I am wronged, I can forgive the offender and at the same time expect him/her to face the consequences.
So, in BK's scenario, if I knew without a shadow of a doubt that a certain individual killed a loved one of mine, I believe two things are appropriate. 1) I must forgive and I will spend the rest of my life trying to do it and 2) the murderer should pay with his or her life. The 'eye for an eye' notion which Jesus taught against was what we might call 'vigilante justice' . In the OT, God laid the 'eye for an eye' (henceforth EFE) rule down to make the point that the punishment should fit the crime and NOT EXCEED it. This inherently carries with it an element of justice for the offendee. By Jesus' time, the EFE principal had become an excuse to personal retaliation, ie revenge. This is what Jesus taught against, IMHO. And, on another note, punishment need not be about revenge. Ideally parents punish to change behavior, not to get back at their kids.

And I promise not to blog about this again.


At 7:04 PM, Blogger amanda said...

you guys were at Mule Day?? I wish I had known and you could have come out to Mom and Daddy's for some lunch! I brought about 12 friends down to bask in all the mule glory!



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