Posts Tagged ‘law’

Justice and Forgiveness

April 10, 2014

Last night in our Bible study at church, we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer and the emphasis on forgiveness.

And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)

We were in agreement that it is necessary for us to forgive those who have wronged us.

Then someone asked about justice.  Just the day before, a family had observed the one year anniversary of a tragic event.  A baby had been shaken by his father, causing severe damage.  The child went through months of seizures, and has lasting damage that, unless miraculously healed by God, will likely be permanent.  While the baby fought for his life, and while the mother and family dealt with the multiple treatments, seizures, and ongoing effects, the father moved out, and was free to go about his business while the justice system went through the various steps leading eventually to conviction and confinement.  The family was, and is, concerned about justice.  A wrong had been done, a penalty should be paid.

How do we reconcile forgiveness and justice?  This blog does not claim to present the final solution to that problem, but rather, a starting point for thought, and perhaps discussion.

I would suggest that forgiveness is an act of an individual, while justice is a function of society.  Forgiveness is an attitude that allows us to let go of the anger, resentment and hatred that poisons our hearts.  Justice is a necessary component of society that punishes wrongdoers, thus preventing us from taking matters into our own hands.

It would be wrong to think that God only supports forgiveness.  The Mosaic Law set forth laws, and punishments for those that broke the law.  These penalties were considered to be just.  It would be wrong to think that the God of the New Testament, with the emphasis on forgiveness; and the God of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on judgement, are incompatible, or different Gods.  God is both just and forgiving.

There are consequences to wrongdoing.  These consequences can be both temporal and eternal.  God is both merciful and just.  We can be forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins, and still face the temporal consequences of our actions.

For the believer who has been wronged, it is important for us to forgive the wrongdoers and leave the consequences for their actions in the hand of God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Clearly there is a tension between justice and forgiveness.  As individuals we must forgive those who have wronged us.  As a society we must pursue justice for those who have been wronged.  The Holy Spirit can help us have the ability to forgive in our hearts,  and the wisdom to pursue justice in our land.

Any ads that accompany this article are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Advertisements

Traffic Cameras

February 23, 2012

Here in Iowa there are a number of cities that utilize cameras for both speeding and red-light violations.  The Iowa congress is debating banning the use of cameras for traffic law enforcement purposes.

I fully support the use of cameras,  for the following reasons.

Speeding and running red lights increase the risk of accidents.

People are less likely to speed or run a red light if they know they will get a ticket.

There will likely be fewer accidents in areas that utilize cameras.

People who are ticketed shouldn’t have been breaking the law.

People should not expect privacy on public streets.

Criminals do not deserve privacy so that they can break the law.

The income from fines can be put to good use.

Owners are responsible for their vehicles.  If a car is loaned to someone other than the registered owner, the owner should recoup their costs from the person to whom they loaned the vehicle.   If that is a problem, then people will be more judicious about whom they let use their vehicle.

I suspect that the only people who really oppose traffic cameras are people who habitually disregard traffic laws.

Oh…

Many people do habitually disregard traffic laws.

No wonder there is such a fuss.

Judging Judges

August 25, 2010

This November, in Iowa, three of the judges that made the decision to allow gay marriage in Iowa will be on the ballot.  The people of the state are given the opportunity to ratify their appointment, or not.  This is an opportunity to express how we feel about their work.  It will not change any laws, but it may send a message about what the majority of the  public thinks about their decision.  This could make a difference in what happens in other states.

The Iowa Supreme Court  created something new in our state by allowing gay marriages.  It is my opinion that the judges exceeded their authority.  I am glad that I will have the opportunity to express my opinion with my vote in November.

Religion, Medicine and Children

May 26, 2009

Currently in the news is the case of the Minnesota teenager, Daniel Hauser.  Daniel has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  He received one treatment of chemotherapy before deciding to try treatment by alternative means, claiming religious belief inspired the change of treatment.  The court has become involved in the case. 

Historically, our country has been divided over how far we are willing to allow religion to dictate treatment of children with curable conditions.  Jehovah Witnesses have often made the news with their refusal of receiving blood transfusions.  Recently, in the courts there have been cases where parents felt that prayer and faith were all that were needed for their children to be healed. 

At the core of this problem is that we are struggling over freedoms, rights and responsibility.  How far do we allow religious freedom to dictate action?  Does a child have a right to the statistically most successful treatment?  Do parents have final responsibility for the welfare of a child, or does the State?   To what extent are we willing to allow religious freedom to dictate the medical treatment of children?  Are we willing to undermine personal freedom, parental authority, and entire religious communities ways of life?  Does society have the right to demand compliance?  These are questions that are not easily answered.  We should think carefully before we take action as the decisions may have far reaching implications.

Obama Reverses Stem-Cell Policy

March 10, 2009

President Obama has reversed the Bush administration’s policy on stem-cell research, opening the way for new embryo’s to be processed for use in research, funded by government dollars.  He said “Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values.”

Actually, he is the one making a false choice.  It is not all sound science that is the problem.  It is science that intentionally destroys innocent human life.

As for morality, I hope that we can agree that it is wrong to intentionally destroy innocent human life.

So, this brings up the question of when does human life begin?  This is a religious, or philosophical question, not a scientific one.    There are many people in this country who believe that human life begins at conception.  Therefore, for all of those people, embryonic stem cell research may be  scientific, but it is, and always will be immoral. 

President Obama has clearly sided with a certain philosophical view regarding the beginning of human life.  That is clear from his views, and his action, on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.  That is the choice that has been made, not a choice between morals and science.

It is the wrong choice.