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Justice vs forgiveness

The scales of justice

Several years back I stumbled upon a conversation a couple coworkers were having in the coffee room of the place I worked. One was asking the other who was a believer about a Bible discrepancy.

How come the Old Testament talks eye for an eye and executing murderers and the New Testament talk about loving and forgiving everyone including our enemies, he wondered?

These two commands seemed diametrically opposed to each other and from outward appearances a contradiction.

It was a legitimate question.

But we see the answer to this alleged contradiction in a recent story out of Alabama.

On Thursday, July 28, 2022, Joe James was executed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, Faith Hall, in 1994.

Faith, who was 26 at the time, had two daughters when she broke up with James after they had briefly gone out.

James was found guilty and sentenced to death in Alabama for the senseless murder and 26 years later he had run out of appeals.

But then a strange thing happened, Faith’s two daughters, now adults, petitioned the government to not execute James.

In his article for Breitbart, John Nolte explains:

Now fully grown, Hall’s daughters lobbied to have 49-year-old James’s life spared.

“I don’t want [the execution] to go forward,” Terrlyn Hall told a local CBS affiliate.

“An eye for an eye has never been a good outlook for life,” said Toni Hall, her sister.

In fact, James’ lawyer noted in a last-ditch, failed appeal how Faith’s daughter did not want their mother’s murderer executed.

This is a perfect illustration of the difference between the Old Testament eye for an eye and Jesus teaching that we must forgive everyone, including our enemies.

Because Jesus was speaking on a personal level. The Lord was talking about our personal response, as we need to forgive everyone, including our enemies.

But the Old Testament was the law for government, and the government still needed to carry out justice.

As Nolte wrote in his article, it was “not ‘the victim vs. the alleged perpetrator,” but rather the state of Alabama against the “alleged perp.”

This is exactly how God wants this to play out.

It seems that the two daughters had so completely forgiven the man that murdered their mother, that they petitioned for leniency.

However, the state still had a responsibility, because anything less than execution for first-degree murder would not only be a devaluation of Faith’s life, but all human life in general.

There is a man in Canada, which doesn’t have the death penalty, who allegedly murdered upwards of 49 women and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

In other words, the man, who was 60 when he was sentenced, could be released when he is 85. And parole boards typically release people who they no longer believe are a danger to society.

This means that the government essentially put a value of half a year, on each of those women’s lives.

As we increasingly remove God from our society, the value of human life will continue to steadily drop in an accompanying response.

READ: Nolte: Murderer Executed Over Objections of Victim’s Family

Eye for an eye vs loving your neighbour

I know the Old Testament law of eye of an eye has proven controversial, with some believing that people had eyes gouged out and fingers lopped off because of crimes they committed.

But did you notice, that we don’t see a single example of a person’s hand being cut off in the Bible?

Why is that?

I believe an eye for an eye was at the very heart of Jesus’ teaching that we need to love our neighbour as ourselves and I explain why in this podcast:

#1 | Why eye for an eye means you love your neighbour as yourself

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