Monday, August 24, 2009

Don’t Do The Crime If You Can’t Do The Time

Imagine that you’re a Judge, a Magistrate. You sit in the Court of the land and wield power and consequence over people’s lives. You dispense justice to those who stand before you, guilty as charged.

Your own life however is not free from the consequence of crime. One day, your three-year-old Son is taken from your backyard. All the worst is done to him. His bruised and beaten body is found a week later. It had been thrown by the side of the road like a piece of garbage. The perpetrator is finally caught. I’ll call him Mark. Your Son’s rape, torture and murder was recorded and copies, ready to be shipped, were discovered in Mark’s apartment. Mark’s parents and friends are in shock. “Mark was such a nice person. He’d never hurt anyone.”
Two questions emerge:

The first question is, What should Mark’s punishment entail? In order for Mark to pay his debt to society and to render himself whole and fit and worthy of redemption:
a) Should Mark have to wash his hands and pray five times per day?

b) Should Mark be made to light incense and place food before an alter every day?

c) Should Mark spend the rest of his life trying to be as good a person as he can be?

Would that do it? Would any of these behaviours on the part of Mark be enough to appease the parents of this murdered child? Would any of these things be a just punishment, a deserving sentence for what he’s done? Would you be satisfied if that’s all that a child rapist, torturer, pornographer and murderer had to do? Or -

d) Should Mark be made to forfeit his freedom if not his very life?

The second question is, Who should experience the punishment of committing these horrific crimes?

a) According to one neighbour, an atheist, it was the fault of Mark’s Father that he turned out so cruel and heartless. Mark was practically innocent in this, just a pawn of an unjust and unfair society.

b) According to another atheist neighbour, since the universe is devoid of objective morals or concepts like right and wrong, there is absolutely no evidence that any crime has been committed. Therefore it would be unfair for anyone to be punished.

c) According to you, there is only one punishment that would be just. Mark should be the one to pay and he should not be allowed to reenter society ever again.

I’ve used the example of child murder and rape because it’s a behaviour that still repulses many people. It’s a act that still makes many people want to see the guilty party permanently removed from our presence. Yet we’re intimidated by the sickest members of our society to the point that we dare not do anything about it. Not in any real sense, that is. Not in any way that would make a real difference. That fact is, we’ve grown accustomed to sin. We’ve come to savour our sin like pigs bask in filth. We know at some level that if we require someone else to change their ways, it might come back on us in such a way as to require changes in our own lifestyle. It’s far better to just let the odd rape and murder take place.

Of course, from an atheist’s perspective there is no God. That means, even from an atheist’s point of view that the real rape of children, the real degrading of women and the real destruction of our planet is our fault. Knowing that we tolerate sin, promote evil and glorify the wickedness that is smothering us in the stench of spiritual death. God agrees with atheists that the evil that is present in the world IS our fault. According to God, our Creator, the wrong that we do are crimes committed against Him. King David got it right when he said, “Against You and You alone have I sinned.” Regardless of how we see our crimes against God, He sees our open rebellion against Him as horrific. God sees our callous disregard for and the habitual mistreatment of beings created in His image as worthy of eternal banishment from His presence. The place of banishment is called Hell.

But wait! There’s a difference here, and the difference is dramatic.

God has made it clear that ritual, religious behaviours, or trying to be as good as we can, will not:

a) Do anything to prevent us from committing crimes against Him, nor

b) Come even close to being a just penalty for crimes already committed.

God has made it clear that claims of, “You shouldn’t punish me because I’m actually a pretty good person,” or “I didn’t do anything wrong,” are nothing more than a delusion. We’ve made it necessary for God’s one and only Son to die, to be tortured to death and pretending that it didn’t happen or that it wasn’t such a big deal isn’t going to cut it.

So who exactly is going to pay the penalty for our sin of rebellion, for our sin of destroying the earth and it’s inhabitants? Some think that trying to “work it off” should do the trick but God says that an eternity in exile isn’t even close to a Just penalty.

In the example above, many people would lose very little sleep if Mark was killed in exactly the same manner that he killed your little boy. Most would certainly have no problem with Mark spending the rest of his life in prison. No one would suggest that he should be forgiven for his crime and then be allowed to go absolutely free. That would seem insane. From a human perspective it certainly wouldn’t entail any sense or form of justice. Let me return to my story. You, Mark’s Judge as well as being Mark’s victim understand Mark. You know that he entered life with the deck stacked against him. Both parents were drug addicts. He suffered Fetal Alcohol brain damaged while in the womb. He never completed grade four and by ten years of age Mark was on the street fending for himself. Mark was also a victim of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. He’s been beaten and discouraged, helpless and hopeless for most of his life. You step down from behind the bench, take off your robe and move toward Mark in an attempt to hug him. Certain that you hate him and that you’re out for revenge, Mark recoils with, “What are you doing? Get away from me!”

Mark’s Judge - Mark, I too grew up on the street. One of my parents died of a drug overdose and the other died of a suicide. I too was sexually abused. I know the pain, and rejection and confusion and anger that you experienced as a child. I want to forgive you for what you've done to me.

Mark - But I killed your only Son.

Mark’s Judge - I know.

Mark - You should hate me.

Mark’s Judge - I know.

Mark - I deserve to die.

Mark’s Judge - I know.

Mark - I deserve to die at your hands.

Mark’s Judge - I know that Mark. But I want to forgive you.

Mark - Forgive me!! I’m a misfit, a freak. Whenever I’ve tried anything in life, I’ve screwed it up. No one will give me a first chance, so why would you give me a second?

Mark’s Judge - I know you. I love you. I’ll help you change.

Mark - I can’t learn.

Mark’s Judge - I’ll teach you. I’m very patient.

Mark - I don’t have any place to live. I’m a pariah to society. I’ll be hounded from place to place for the rest of my life.

Mark’s Judge - You’ll come and live with me.

Mark - Why are you doing this?

Mark’s Judge - I feel compassion for you. I know what it's like to live the life that you've lived. I want to forgive you and let you know what it’s like to live in the presence of love.

Mark - I’m too bad a person. I can’t accept your forgiveness.

Mark’s Judge - Mark, you have committed a very serious crime. You have hurt me more than you can ever imagine. If I were to sentence you to die it would be just and fair. I am offering you a clean slate, forgiveness for your crime, freedom from any and all guilt. It’s one or the other Mark, freedom or judgment. What’s it gonna be?

Mark - This is for real?

Mark’s Judge - Yes. It’s for real.

Mark - So I can experience your love and mercy and grace and forgiveness at absolutely no cost?

Mark’s Judge - Well, it’s free for you, but it cost me the life of my Son.

Falling on his knees before you, Mark cries, “I am so very sorry. How can you be so kind to someone like me? I promise to love you and serve you for the rest of my life. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you.

Mark’s Judge - You’re welcome Mark.

As I reread this, the ending sounds pretty cheesy. And you might say that something like that would never happen. If you are talking about life here on earth you are probably right. But God sees things differently than we do. God is shamelessly in love with us, His creation. He cares about us. He wants what’s best for us. He wants that so badly that He came to earth in the form of Jesus to do exactly what is described in the story above. Jesus didn’t come to earth to make sure our outside was clean. He came to change our hearts. Jesus allowed Himself to be tortured to death AND to take God's wrath toward sin upon Himself to make that possible.

That God is a God of love is beyond dispute.

On the other hand, God is Just. He’s absolutely, completely and totally Just. God is the definition of Just. Genuine crime and rebellion require a real consequence, a just and fair consequence. Someone has to do the time for the crime that’s been committed. In our Creator’s mind the just and fair consequence for our open rebellion against Him, and for destroying His Creation through our choice of sin over righteousness, all of which necessitated the death of His Son, is eternal banishment from His presence. It’s a prospect that is horrific beyond description.

The Bible tells us two important things in regard to our crimes.

- Every single one of us have sinned and fall short of God’s expectations for us.

- The just consequences of our sin is death, but there is a second chance to receive freedom from guilt through faith in Jesus, God’s Son.

What are we to do? There is no way for us to change things. We are born, no, we are conceived into a state of real guilt. We come into this world deserving the just, and righteous wrath of God. It is a situation that is impossible to repair, unless - UNLESS someone with the power to do something about it, does what we cannot do for ourselves. In this case, that someone is God Himself. He is our Judge and our Saviour. Because we are already guilty of the crime by the time we understand the consequences, God, in His mercy and grace gives us a second chance.

He says in effect:
If you will let Me, I will pay the consequence of your crime for you.

If you let Me, I will keep you from eternal banishment and instead bring you into my very own home.

If you let Me, I will lavish you with eternal gifts and riches beyond imagination.

If you let Me, I will die in your place and allow you to live forever in paradise.

All you have to do is let me do this for you, accept the deal, take the gift, make it yours.

Now, I ask. Who’s insane? Is it God, for offering to pay your penalty and then declaring you not guilty, or you for refusing to take Him up on the offer?

23 comments:

Glen20 said...

"...since the universe is devoid of objective morals or concepts like right and wrong..."

A concept is by definition not objective.

Concept:
1 : something conceived in the mind : thought, notion
2 : an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instance
s

On to your story... That's still not justice. In your story, the judge's son is no longer punished as such but now no injustice goes punished or rectified.

We are born, no, we are conceived into a state of real guilt.

So children/aborted fetuses go to hell? How is that fair?

Jeff said...

A few comments:

"On the other hand, God is Just. He’s absolutely, completely and totally Just. God is the definition of Just. Genuine crime and rebellion require a real consequence, a just and fair consequence. Someone has to do the time for the crime that’s been committed."

No no, justice requires that the person who committed the crime should pay the punishment. That is one of the fundamental tenets of justice. Would a judge be right in sending the criminal's lawyer to jail instead of the criminal? Even if he wanted to go? Of course not. Justice has only been served when the culprit of a crime serves the punishment for what he did. You can call God sending his Son to die loving, merciful, etc., but don't call it justice.

"We are born, no, we are conceived into a state of real guilt. We come into this world deserving the just, and righteous wrath of God."

I find it quite repulsive to believe that an infant stands condemned for doing anything wrong. This was always something I struggled with as a Christian, but now I don't have to. I know that saying that a child deserves to die a thousand deaths for the crimes of his ancestors is clearly wrong.

"Now, I ask. Who’s insane? Is it God, for offering to pay your penalty and then declaring you not guilty, or you for refusing to take Him up on the offer?"

That is all predicated on the assumption that God has indeed done so. Obviously an atheist does not even believe God exists, so he can't "do" anything at all. Thus you can only be preaching to the choir here, really.

The Atheist Missionary said...

The one who is insane is the Judge if he stood by and watched the death of his son and did nothing about it. Oh, I forgot ... he's a sadomasochist.

Makarios said...

A concept is by definition not objective."

Well excuuuuuuse me! :-) Thanks for the correction. That's too bad. I like that word. It's going to be hard to change.
=========

On to your story... That's still not justice. In your story, the judge's son is no longer punished as such but now no injustice goes punished or rectified. "

As you know, it's hard to come up with the perfect analogy.
=========

So children/aborted fetuses go to hell?

Do you think that's what the Bible teaches?
=======

""This was always something I struggled with as a Christian, but now I don't have to."

How handy for you.
===========
The one who is insane is the Judge if he stood by and watched the death of his son and did nothing about it."

In the case to which you're referring, the Judge is the Son and I think He is quite capable of deciding for Himself the rightness or wrongness of His decision.

Makarios said...

"No no, justice requires that the person who committed the crime should pay the punishment."

And you will! You atheists are something else, you know? First you're angry if you get punished. Then you're upset if you don't get punished. And THEN you wonde why people see atheists as a crabby bunch of jerks. Anyhow, don't worry about someone else being punished in your stead. It ain't gonna happen. Unless! -

Ya see Jeff, you and I and everyone else have run up a debt that we simply can’t pay back. Even if you pay and pay and pay for all eternity, it won’t come close to paying back your crimes against God.

I know, I know. You don’t think the punishment fits the crime. In truth it really doesn’t matter what you or I or anyone else thinks - does it? It only matters what your Creator thinks.

You can at least be thankful that you know the ground-rules ahead of time. Ignore them if you will but don’t try to claim you didn’t know.

At any rate, because you stand no chance, none whatsoever of ever paying off your debt, God has said that He will pay it for you. Not too bad if you think about it. You can either allow Him to do that for you, or you can be thrown out of His kingdom for ever and ever.

Are you a smart man Jeff? Do you like to think of yourself as a bright boy? Are you going to accept you Creator's offer to pay off your debt for you? Or are you going to stand there and quibble about whether it meets your standard of justice?

Glen20 said...

You atheists are something else, you know? First you're angry if you get punished. Then you're upset if you don't get punished. And THEN you wonde why people see atheists as a crabby bunch of jerks. Anyhow, don't worry about someone else being punished in your stead. It ain't gonna happen.

The atheists here are just pointing out the holes and absurdities of your worldview.

Jeff said...

"And you will! You atheists are something else, you know? First you're angry if you get punished. Then you're upset if you don't get punished. And THEN you wonde why people see atheists as a crabby bunch of jerks. Anyhow, don't worry about someone else being punished in your stead. It ain't gonna happen. Unless!"

Lol...I wasn't talking about atheists in particular. Christians believe that Jesus took the punishment for them - so they don't have to be punished at all. That goes against every principle of justice we have. You did the crime, you do the time.

Oh, and I'm not angry or upset. I don't believe that this almighty judge even exists, so why should I be angry if a non-existent being wants to punish OR not punish me? Why would that inspire strong emotions of any kind?

"Ya see Jeff, you and I and everyone else have run up a debt that we simply can’t pay back. Even if you pay and pay and pay for all eternity, it won’t come close to paying back your crimes against God."

I think this is ridiculous. I'm sure you have heard the argument about how on earth a finite lifetime of sin could merit an infinite lifetime of punishment, so I won't bother repeating it. All I can say is that again, it goes against our principles of justice.

"Or are you going to stand there and quibble about whether it meets your standard of justice?"

I'm going to stand here and quibble about whether it meets any standard of justice that is in existence today. We are made in God's image, right? That means we have at least some limited sense of what justice is. Correct? So one should also expect that God's standard of justice should at least be equal to our own. Killing an innocent man to pay the price of an infinite punishment for a finitely guilty person is not in any sense "justice". It is a plain and obvious perversion of it.

If you were in a courtroom, and the judge was declaring the punishment for a murderer - "life imprisonment!" And then the murderer's friend walks in and says, "No! Throw me in prison instead!" and the judge says okay...would anyone in that courtroom say that justice had been served? The guy's friend goes to jail and the murderer now is free once again to roam the streets. That is not justice. Certainly the friend is showing love and compassion, but please don't try and fool anyone by saying it's just. If God has such an amazing sense of justice, it should at least be as good as our own. This is nothing of the sort.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Jeff wrote: I'm going to stand here and quibble about whether it meets any standard of justice that is in existence today. We are made in God's image, right? That means we have at least some limited sense of what justice is. Correct? So one should also expect that God's standard of justice should at least be equal to our own. Killing an innocent man to pay the price of an infinite punishment for a finitely guilty person is not in any sense "justice". It is a plain and obvious perversion of it.

Stop it. My head hurts. You're making too much damn sense.

Makarios said...

Glen:
“The atheists here are just pointing out the holes and absurdities of your worldview.”

To who? Other atheists? You aren’t making any points with me. I’ve heard your points of view a thousand times. They mean nothing. You're arguing from what you want, not from what is.
=============

Jeff:
I thought you’d said you used to be a Christian so I assumed that you’d know all this stuff. Guess I was thinking of someone else. So, point by point:

- Because all of us are born into a state of rebellion, it is only God’s GRACE that will ensure that some humans get what they don’t deserve (life in eternal paradise) while God’s MERCY will ensure that those same humans don’t get what they do deserve (eternal separation from God).

This is the part that bothers most atheists. If they’re going to be separated from God for eternity, atheists want EVERYONE to be separated from God’s love for eternity. Like my four-year-old, atheists whine "It's not faaaayer."

Well, too bad. Everyone being punished is not going to happen regardless of what atheists think regarding justice.

- We can know of God’s PATIENCE because God persists in blessing those who continue in evil. He will continue to do this until all those who are going to receive His merciful salvation have turned from their rebellion.

- We can know of God’s LOVE in that He, in the form of His Son, has forgiven evil by taking His own punishment, and suffering His own wrath for the horrible act of continued rebellion against a Creator God who is perfectly pure, holy, righteous, just, merciful, slow to anger, filled with great patience, filled with grace and abounding in Love.

- We can know God’s JUSTICE because we know in our hearts that rebellion against God is wrong AND we know in our hearts when we’ve done wrong. Those who continue in their rebellion will die spiritually and eternally.

Listen up Jeff:
God will:

. Rescue those who are not looking for Him,

. Love those who hate Him, and

. Make peace with those who are His enemies.

. The rebellious (like atheists) cannot complain because they are in fact guilty of rebellion.

. The saved cannot boast because they have done nothing to deserve salvation.

Again, it doesn’t matter what YOU believe is just or unjust. We live in a universe that operates under the banner of Creator God’s decrees.

You can rant or whimper about that - and lose like never before.

Or you can humble yourself and come under your Creator’s leadership - and win like you’ve never dreamed possible.

Flute said...

atheists want EVERYONE to be separated from God’s love for eternity...

Atheists don't believe in gods.

...because we know in our hearts that rebellion against God is wrong...

To use something you said to Glenn "You're arguing from what you want, not from what is."
-----------
Makarious: The place of banishment [for the guilty] is called Hell.
...
We are born, no, we are conceived into a state of real guilt
.

Glenn: So children/aborted fetuses go to hell?

Do you think that's what the Bible teaches?

A common technique for refuting an opposing position is to show that it's internally inconsistent.

Makarios said...

Atheists don't believe in gods.”

Right. But you only write about the unfair treatment you receive at the hands of the God described in Christianity. Although, to be honest I haven't checked you blog history. Perhaps you have a number of earlier posts on why you don't believe in Santa and Zeus?
============

“A common technique for refuting an opposing position is to show that it's internally inconsistent. “

Yes - and? Someone born with two alcoholic parents is predisposed to becoming an alcoholic h/himself. That doesn’t mean that s/he WILL become an alcoholic. But it’s more likely.

We, including the children to which Glen refers are born with the predisposition for evil and rebellion toward Creator God. As Glen and others have pointed out, that doesn’t mean that a two day old child HAS sinned. But you and I both know that it’s just a matter of time. No one has to teach of us put ourselves first or to become intensely annoyed when others put themselves before us. No one has to teach us to take what doesn't belong to us. In fact, a great deal of parenting involves teaching our children to do what we call "right;" those things that entail kindness and generosity.

God is entirely fair. We don’t need to worry about innocent people being denied access to paradise. While It doesn’t say a lot on the issue, in keeping with internal consistency, the Bible indicates that infants, those who have not yet CHOSEN to do evil, AND who haven't been able to make a decision regarding Jesus' offer of salvation, will in fact be taken to heaven.

Flute said...

But you only write about the unfair treatment you receive at the hands of the God described in Christianity.

I only write about the god described by Christianity and Islam because they are the ones that have followers.

are born with the predisposition for evil and rebellion toward Creator God.

Before you said people were born and conceived in "a state of real guilt". I can understand why you backed down from this.

We don’t need to worry about innocent people being denied access to paradise.

But you said no one is innocent so it's a moot point.

While It doesn’t say a lot on the issue, in keeping with internal consistency, the Bible indicates that infants, those who have not yet CHOSEN to do evil, AND who haven't been able to make a decision regarding Jesus' offer of salvation, will in fact be taken to heaven.

Wouldn't that make abortion one of the greatest goods in the world? You are saving babies from the chance of going to hell! Christians should be all for abortion.

And on your second point; why tell people about Jesus? Isn't that just spoiling peoples chances of heaven?

The Atheist Missionary said...

I'm eagerly waiting for Mak to explain why all babies should not be aborted. It sounds like a ready made plan to ensure a soul gets to heaven!

Makarios said...

“Before you said people were born and conceived in "a state of real guilt". I can understand why you backed down from this.”

We ARE born in a state of real guilt. John 3:18 (“stands condemned ALREADY”) and 36 (“God’s wrath REMAINS on him”) show that if we do nothing about that state, we will be condemned. We need to accept the change that is being offered.

It appears however that you have caught me in an, um, position that I haven’t thought through carefully enough. I can’t remember when this has happened last so - Thank you for the challenge. If and when I figure out what I’m trying to say I’ll get back to you.

JD? Any ideas on how I can explain this? Leo? If you’re around, any thoughts on this?

This I know.
. We are saved by what we “believe” regarding Jesus.
. We are condemned by what we do.
. What we do is determined by who we are.
. Our sins are just a symptom of who we are.

Like the saying goes, “What’s down in the well, comes up in the bucket.”
=============
We don’t need to worry about innocent people being denied access to paradise.
"But you said no one is innocent so it's a moot point."

Yes, that’s right. Both of them, I mean, are correct. We aren’t invited into heaven based on merit. Rather it’s solely by the grace of God.
. Because infants have not chosen to “sin” and
. Because God is fair, and
. Because He can bestow His grace upon whom ever He chooses and
. Because there are a scattering of verses that seem to imply infants go to heaven, that’s what I believe.

On the other hand, I think a case could be made that it’s only those infants who would have come to Jesus as adults but who die in infancy who are the ones to go to heaven. The others, remember it’s the soul or spirit that is being cast aside, not the infant per se, go to hell.

Like I said, I’m not sure that I’ve thought this through as well I perhaps should have. Thanks for the challenge.
==============

“Wouldn't that make abortion one of the greatest goods in the world? You are saving babies from the chance of going to hell! Christians should be all for abortion.”

My, my, my - You’re a clever girl today aren’t you? :-) I think the Spaniards had somewhat the same concept whereby they baptised children and then bashed their heads in. I wouldn't recommend abortion to anyone on those grounds.
============

"And on your second point; why tell people about Jesus? Isn't that just spoiling peoples chances of heaven?"

Wow, four good questions in a row. Or was that five - whatever. I think I pretty much answered this in “Not Enough Evidence!" God knows who will and who will not respond to any amount of evidence. The degree of evidence is perhaps not as much of an issue as we might think. To those who respond in a positive way to the evidence they have (regardless of amount) God gives more. To those who reject the evidence that they’ve been given (regardless of amount), even what they have will be taken away.

As I said in that post, if a person ignores the evidence from Creation, it won’t be enough to sway them “even when I rise from the dead,” as Jesus said on at least one occasion. Nevertheless, to me, life with Jesus is so superior to life without Him that even if there wasn’t any life beyond this one, not telling people about Jesus is horribly negligent.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Mak wrote: On the other hand, I think a case could be made that it’s only those infants who would have come to Jesus as adults but who die in infancy who are the ones to go to heaven. The others, remember it’s the soul or spirit that is being cast aside, not the infant per se, go to hell.

ROFL! I should start a file of ridiculous Makarios quotes for future reference. You don't fly by the seat of your pants, your pants are doing the flying. Sometimes I wonder if this site is serious or just an elaborate joke perpetrated by some atheist college student with too much time on their hands.

Jeff said...

Lol I think I saw that idea in a movie once, The Minority Report. They are able to see the future, so they go around arresting people before they commit the crime. Hmm...maybe God is really just Tom Cruise? :D

Makarios said...

"I'm eagerly waiting for Mak to explain why all babies should not be aborted. It sounds like a ready made plan to ensure a soul gets to heaven!"

It isn't our / my job to make sure souls get to heaven and murder (the killing of an innocent person) is wrong.

Glen20 said...

It isn't our / my job to make sure souls get to heaven

then why tell people about Jesus?

and murder (the killing of an innocent person) is wrong.

No one is innocent. (taking my cues from Flute)

Makarios said...

"then why tell people about Jesus?"

Because I'm told, by my Lord and Saviour to go into all the world and tell people that your sins can be forgiven and you can have peace with your Creator. You can have peace in your sould and you can have peace in your home.
===========

No one is innocent.

You and I are not their judge.

Are you in favour of abortion Glen? Do you think that the killing of one segment of society, the least powerful segment of society, is a good way of pleasing and placating another segment?

Glen20 said...

"Are you in favour of abortion Glen? "

No. Who is in favour of abortion?

JD Curtis said...

JD? Any ideas on how I can explain this? Leo? If you’re around, any thoughts on this?

Were you looking for an age of accountability sort of scenario?

Makarios said...

Ya, I guess.

Lam said...

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