Saturday, 12 November 2016

A Good Government Punishes Crime

Good Government Punishes Crime

Yes I know. Modernists want to cut “punishment” out of the dictionary - except of course for people who don't agree with them! They are wrong, and hypocrites at that.

It is one of those truisms that, like a pendulum, corrective measures often go too far in the other direction. In the 1800's punishments at home, in schools and worst of all in prisons were often brutal. In England writers like Charles Dickens awakened the public conscience to these cruelties. I won't labour the point since I expect nowadays the very thought of these sorts of punishments – often meted out for minor infractions - fill most people with horror.

I will claim however that we have gone too far the other way. Now we are being unkind in a quite different way by not appropriately whacking our children when they do wrong.

We are sending them undisciplined into a world where reality can be unforgiving: Drink-drive and someone dies; be rude or insubordinate and lose your job; and so on. We ban corporal punishment at schools and end up having to employ security guards to protect teachers from violent students. Not to mention unruly students blocking lessons for those who want to learn.

What I am saying is not new. Bernstein in “West Side Story” included a satirical song where the young gang members tell the policeman it is not their fault they are hoodlums: its society, its their parents, its everyone but them.

In criminal matters, there is on one hand academics and left-liberal churches advocating greater leniency on offenders and on the other in the community a widespread angst that the courts are not protecting the ordinary citizen, and are not adequately punishing criminals.

Last week there was the surprise (for some people!) result of Donald Trump as president elect of the U.S. I think this exemplifies the two camps I am talking about, and indicates a groundswell of feeling that there has not been “good government”. For any readers who would like to see an analysis of this that I believe hits the nail on the head I recommend

On the other hand, “rule of law” is infinitely better than the lynch-mob. And our ideal of “justice tempered with mercy” is infinitely better than the “Sharia courts” with their gruesome punishments and disregard for justice that we have seen in Islamic State and seen popularly demanded even in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia. So what sort of principles can we mine from the Bible?

1. Governments have a duty to God to punish wrongdoing.
Rom. 13. is the classic statement which includes secular governments. In particular v.4b “(rulers) are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on wrongdoers.” Contrary to modern theory, punishment is on the agenda as an aim in its own right!

2. Punishment without pity of some crimes is vital for a society.
Ancient Israel was a nation in a unique relationship to God as his “chosen people”. No nation today has that privilege and obligation! (God said to them : “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins” ) I would be happy to concede that it applies to the Church Universal and that the governing bodies of individual denominations and congregations should take the injunctions of Deuteronomy to heart! So for instance, church officials who shielded pedophiles on one hand and theologians who denied the truths the Church has believed everywhere for the past two thousand years on the other but did not heed “show them no pity ... but expel the evildoer from your midst ... that such a thing may not be done in (your church) Israelto paraphrase a host of texts, should expect to suffer the full force of God's anger on Judgement Day.

Apostasy was something which put ancient Israel's existence at risk because of their special place in God's plans. Thus in Deuteronomy 13.8 and 19.15 (and many other places) the command that if even a loved one tries to lead one away from Yaweh : “do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.  You must certainly put them to death.Please do not get me wrong! I am not suggesting liberal theologians and pastors should be stoned ! However they have destroyed the faith of many and turned many churches into mere political action groups – they should have been expelled: instead they have taken over and worked to drive out true preachers!

There are some crimes which a secular government must punish without mercy so that
Then all Israel (citizens) will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again”. As an example. In Sydney (Australia) some years ago there had been a number of viscous rapes by Lebanese gangs. The government introduced very harsh penalties for “rape in the presence of others” subsequently a group of Lebanese youths were convicted and given very long sentences. These gang rapes ceased.

The current scourge of “home grown terrorists” is another example in point
They should be considered traitors and courts should sentence them accordingly. Also there should be a strong push and community education for their families, friends and congregations to put their duty to the country way ahead of their sympathy for their co-religionists and so not shield or spare suspected terrorists in their midst but to show now pity in giving evidence against them to the proper authorities.

NEXT: DUE PROCESS in criminal trials

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