Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Humanitarian Act (Part 2)

You may have read my opinion in part 1 concerning the release of the Lockerbie terrorist, and may be thinking, “Isn’t Christianity all about mercy and forgiveness? Where’s this guy coming from?”

Let’s take a quick look at the Christian understanding of God’s justice. If you repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus, you are spared the penalty of all that you’ve done wrong over your whole lifetime. Now that’s forgiveness! However, in order for that to happen, somebody did have to pay that penalty. If it isn’t you, then who paid? By his death on the cross, Jesus paid.

So God’s perfect justice demands that the penalty must be paid, either by Jesus or by us. If we trust Jesus for our salvation, we escape paying the penalty. If we don’t trust Jesus for our salvation, we pay the price, which is eternal separation from God. “Salvation” (from the Latin salvare meaning “to save”) means being saved from having to pay that penalty for our wrongdoing.

Man’s justice, while imperfect, also demands that a penalty must be paid for breaking the law. The worse the crime, the longer the time. If the full penalty, as determined by a court, is not paid, then justice is perverted. Even though the Lockerbie terrorist is dying, I believe he should die in prison in accordance with a life sentence. That what a life sentence means: you’re in prison until you die. No exceptions.

Another point is that governments are not necessarily subject to the same biblical guidelines as individuals. Jesus told individuals to “walk the extra mile” and “turn the other cheek.” Governments, by their nature, need to operate according to different standards because of the need to maintain order, seek justice, and defend its citizens. What might be a good act by an individual may be an irresponsible act on the part of a government agency. I’m not saying governments should be despotic, but their role is different.

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