Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't Speak too Soon

I didn't follow the Casey Anthony trial other than catching a few reports about it from time to time on the news. It strikes me as a bit odd at the amount of times in the last few weeks I have heard the issues of the trial come up not just as discussion but adding commentary. Sometimes people are certain of guilt or certain   that the jury allowed a miscarriage of justice to go on.

Most of this commentary and speculating strikes me as, quite frankly, unbiblical.

Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

1. Consider this, other than the mediate reports about the alleged evidence the prosecution would present and perhaps a scant recounting of the argument the defense would/did make--most of us followed the trial from the outside looking in. 

2. Most of us paid attention to one side of the story, particularly the lies to the police of which Casey Anthony was convicted. We then put our moral reasoning together and say "who would do something like that?"

The reality is, just because it is morally wrong to do one thing, namely lie. And people who lie often cover for more heinous actions or may lie because of deeper moral deficiencies in their character, it is still a long way from proving guilt to the satisfactory requirement of a court of law--beyond reasonable doubt.

3. A Christian reflecting on the case, should just apply Biblical wisdom and say "I wasn't on the jury, I didn't hear all the evidence, counter-evidence, and potential reasonable doubt." The person, like you or I, standing on the outside wasn't in the courtroom and so we were not presented with the best side of both cases. For the most part, people weighing in have decided what is right without having the case examined by the opposing party-the defense. (The rare exception to these might be the serious legal analyst who followed the case closely.

4. What is trouble is the need of so many to weigh in on this. In fact, according to one pole, two-thirds of America think that Casey Anthony is guilty. The problem: justice is not about democracy. The courtroom process and trial by jury is essential--and the jury must come up with a unanimous verdict.

5. It may be that a guilty person got off. But that is far more favorable than an innocent person being condemned. Christians shouldn't be opposed to a state that establishes justice. In fact, Romans 13 and 1 Peter tells us that state has that right.

“For thousands of years, Western society has insisted that it is better for 10 guilty defendants to go free than for one innocent defendant to be wrongly convicted. This daunting standard finds its roots in the biblical story of Abraham’s argument with God about the sinners of Sodom.
Abraham admonishes God for planning to sweep away the innocent along with the guilty and asks Him whether it would be right to condemn the sinners of Sodom if there were 10 or more righteous people among them. God agrees and reassures Abraham that he would spare the city if there were 10 righteous. From this compelling account, the legal standard has emerged.
That is why a criminal trial is not a search for truth. Scientists search for truth. Philosophers search for morality. A criminal trial searches for only one result: proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” (HT: Mere Orthodoxy)
6. All this clamoring for justice in the face of a perceived injustice can be a good thing. People are still made in the image of God and so they have the works of the law of God written on their heart. Yes, sinners suppress that law--and yet a time like this reveals conscience is not eradicated in humanity despite our being dead in sin without regeneration.  Whether or not Casey Anthony is guilty isn't so much the issue as the fact that someone did something horrible and, at least for now, seems to have gotten away with it. 

A crime unpunished is injustice. There is a shout from the general public that this whole thing is unfair and a travesty. Someone has gotten away.

The Bible describes are sins against God--our failures to love him, our corruptions and things that are a travesty against justice. Sin is rebellion against the Creator of the universe. It is looking at our Maker and Creator who loves us and slapping Him in the face. To get away with it, is to get way with murder. 

Many people treat God's forgiveness of sins as if God just "forgets about sin" in a sort of "sweep it under the rug." Ironically, many people are worked up and can't just 'sweep away' the remembrance of little Caylee Anthony, nor should they. If we who are made in God's image understand that justice requires judgment upon sin, why is it that we do not apply that to our view of God? We expect God is a jolly giver who just says "Pu-shaw twasn't anything" to our horrible sin against him. 

Injustice in our world should remind us of the final judgment that awaits. The only way to be vindicated at this judgment is to be united by faith to the one who already underwent the judgment and passed it for His people. While the wages of sin is death--God sent His Son Jesus to be “the propitiation for our sins.” This means Jesus, an innocent man, stand in our place before God’s justice. Very simply, Jesus is willing because of God’s love, to stand and be punished for crimes he did not commit, all so that we could go free. This makes God both just and the justified of those who have faith in Jesus.

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