Friday, February 09, 2007
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth was a huge improvement in justice for the time. Prior to its acceptance a person might feel they were entitled to two eyes and a tooth, a few lives and maybe a couple of young maidens if he were wronged. Hammurabi's Code, which came from an ancient Sumerian world, from a region we now call Iraq, strove to be a giant step towards justice. Jewish history then brought us the concept of,” An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, which is about equality and fairness in justice; not the vengeance or revenge (or preemptive strike) so many from our present time would like to equate it.
If you are a Christian you believe that Christ took this further to subjugate justice to the concepts of love, forgiveness and mercy, as is expressed throughout the New Testament. This is why Christians should be against:
Cruel and unusual punishment,
The death penalty,
(Jesus Christ suffered all of the above and He offered Prayers, Mercy and Forgiveness to all involved. If the object of being Christian is to strive to be Christ-like, as much is humanly possible for our lowly state, then it would seem necessary that we should not go without noticing the examples of His Passion.)
The weapons industry,
Violent Reactionary ‘solutions’,
And unjust wars, (as if there were such a thing as a just war)
to name just a few.
Jesus tells us that we are to forgive those who do us wrong 7 times 70 times a day, which means always. This even applies to our enemies.
Is He just asking too much? Does He not understand the problems of our current situation? Didn’t He tell us, “His yoke is easy and His burden is light”. We are supposed to forgive those who do us wrong 7 times 70 times a day, which means always, even to our enemies. because we should be concerned with their best interests as well as our own?
God understands that there would be nothing to forgive if you weren’t hurt and that it may be difficult. It takes the Holy Spirit to aid in forgiveness especially when the wrong done was egregious. Prayer is a necessary aid.
I know a little trick that helps, at least it's what helped me, although I must confess I continue to always struggle.
First, realize that forgiveness is a necessary requirement for the health of the soul.
Second, Level with God about having trouble doing it and be honest with yourself and Him.
Third, make a conscience acknowledgement that you desire to forgive and that you do forgive.
Fourth, pray that they be forgiven by God.
Fifth, ask that they be blessed.
Sixth, frequently repeat one through five.
I’m convinced that this act eases the pain. (Maybe this is one of the ways of finding that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.)
I know this seems really hard but remember He said His ways were foolishness to the world, and that we were supposed to at least try to trust in His ways. Trust is the greater part, the harder part, of faith.
This doesn’t mean that society has no responsibility to track down criminals and punish crime, but it does mean that the punishment should not be vindictive or cruel and that the best interests of all involved, society included, must be taken into account.
Love, forgiveness, turning the other cheek, loving our enemy, and doing good to those who hurt us are teachings of Christ that are wonderful gifts from God that we all too easily turn our back away from when we are wronged or even worse when, as a country, some financial or foreign policy benefit may be realized. The temptation to give into rationalizing away someone’s humanity is often great but it’s also always wrong; always sinful.
The Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi