Crime and Punishment

I’m weird, I know, but I enjoy reading the law. I know we’re continents and centuries apart, but it’s interesting to see how God’s plan for the people panned out.

Too many people force either/or dilemmas where they aren’t required of issues. Most of our political hot-button issues today are because there’s a notable lack of common sense: candidates are portrayed as either for healthcare (cough universal cough) or against it, at all. We’re told we must pick between building a 9-mile tall, barbed-wire, broken-glass electric “Berlin Wall” fence between us and Mexico, or choose to grant amnesty to anyone who ever came across the border, regardless of intent.

I’m not sure I like either of those options!

Now, don’t get me wrong: there are absolutes. There is still black and white. There is still right; there is still wrong, but oh how we need a dose of simple common sense and moderation!

It amazes me how well God does that in the law, even if we don’t always notice. The same God (who does not lie, by the way) explained that for some crimes, the people should “Show no pity.” (Deut 19:21). Did you hear that? The all-merciful benevolent gracious for-God-so-loved-the-world God said no pity! (It was for those who intentionally and premeditatively deceived to hurt others for their own gain…)

But just pages later in Deuteronomy 25:1-3, he limited the beatings given to a man (who was judged guilty) to what was deserved by his crimes, and “not…more than forty lashes.” Why? Because “If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes.”

There is a place for the carrot and the stick. There are places for better carrots and harder sticks, too! God recognized that need in his justice system. How are we doing in ours?