The Lowest Common Denominator
Note: I originally wrote this in May of 2006. I find it still very applicable today.
I’ve been thinking a bit about capital punishment lately mostly because it’s part of the assignment that I’ve been working on for the tail-end of my ethics class.
I very much used to be gung-ho when it comes to this. My argument went along the lines that:
1. God killed people in the Old Testament.
2. Society has to be just. You should have the option to kill others if they kill to act as a deterrent as well as to administer justice.
However, in looking over Jesus’ possible take on it all, I think I might be changing my stance on this. Not that I’m going to stand in line with a sign in front of a state execution (those are few and far between these days anyway). I’m wondering if we’re catering to the lowest common denominator here, and if that’s necessarily what Christ would do?
Check it out: we most often are first concerned about our inner-circle (ourselves, family, and friends) before others. As such, our first priorities are tailored to meet some sort of need by that particular circle. Sometimes we spend time to provide, sometimes we spend time to enjoy ourselves, sometimes we spend time because we want to look as good or better than our friends from a financial or affluence point of view.
One of the criticisms I have towards government law in general is that it’s most often cold in its administration of justice. This is required because there is a snowball’s chance in hell that the judge and a jury would include you in that aforementioned circle. As such, they administer justice based on facts and responsibility. That’s all well and good, but we aren’t called to be cold as a person who follows Christ. Christ was never cold and calculating, although he had lots of opportunities to be so. When he was being brutally killed, he asked that God would forgive them for their ignorance.
My point is really this: if we spent as much time interacting, communing, and caring for others as we do trying to “make-it”, we could affect a lot of change in this manner we could maybe assume the best about someone instead of the worst.
Somehow, I find it hard to believe that Jesus would support killing as a form of justice. Maybe he would, but we’re talking about a guy who gave up his life so that we, the most unjust and most deserving of death, could live.
Thank God for his injustice!