Is An Eye For An Eye Enough?
On Friendly Terms
For the most part, we, Americans, sit in the safety of our own homes. We use various forms of electronic devices to stay informed on what is transpiring locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. We watch as suicide bombers attack and kill innocent people. We flinch once or twice when we see the blood and mingled steel. But the televised mayhem and all of its gory details does not impede the ebb and flow of our daily lives. In our fast-paced global world, we readily accept the premise that the blowing up of a suicide bomber's body judicially releases the bomber from further accountability. At the same time, we assume that the bomber's dissembled body absolves humanity of some of its brotherly responsibilities. After all, the bomber is dead. He or she can cause no further hurt. On the other hand, if the execution was carried out by an individual for personal and not political reasons, we quickly post written or audio commentaries, extend condolences, if possible attend the memorial services and then quickly retreat into the safety of our own homes. Seldom do we take the time to personally examine the individual and the collective ramifications of living in a world that mitigates the crime of murder.
As Christians, we acknowledge that we live in an evil world, and therefore, we expect for evil things to transpire. When our expectations come to fruition, we reference the accuracy of our expectations and then instantly remove from our consciousness the unpleasant memories of those who have been executed. Yet, in the big picture, those individuals whose lives have been prematurely destroyed become connecting links in the endless chain of atrocities that human beings commit against each other. One is compelled to ask, "How does the average American who purportedly values the sacredness of human life and who supposedly has no political or financial motives rap his or her head around the concept that if a man kills himself after committing premediated murder then the act of freely forfeiting one's own life exonerates that individual from further guilt?
If that is the case, the pain that results from the premediated murder of an innocent individual will subside the moment his or her family learns that the individual who killed their family member has taken his or her own life. But premediated murder is not a self-contained crime. It is a crime against humanity and against society. One of its immediate effects is that the physical life of another person has been extinguished. Another effect is that a murderous act instantly changes the lives of all the people with whom the decedent shared a relationship. Moreover, premediated murder eats away at the emotional well-being of the murderer’s family, and more importantly, it chips away at the moral foundation upon which the values of an ethical nation are predicated. That is why it is so important that a nation’s laws and the implementation of its laws be based upon the appreciation and the preservation of human life.
The Price of Murder
The quick and appropriate application of justice prevents the acceleration of crimes. For instance, if an individual shoots my dog and in retaliation, I shoot the individual's dog, justice, be it archaic, has been applied. On the other hand, if an individual shoots my dog, in retaliation I shoot the individual's dog, and subsequently I am fined for shooting the individual's dog; and the individual is exonerated for shooting my dog, justice has been perverted. This is the judicial vortex in which we live. I propose that the writer of Exodus 21:24 had the right idea when the author wrote " . . . an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot . . ." The institution of equitable justice would alleviate much of the injustice that permeates America's judicial system. Families, whose love ones have been murdered, could find a small sense of solace in the fact that the individual responsible for ending the life of their love one has an immediate meeting with equitable justice. But in America, that is not the case, and unfortunately, the meaningless taking of innocent lives continues. Every single day, people are murdered by irate family members, by gang members, by enraged strangers, by terrorists groups, by happenstance, by avarice individuals, and by ruthless corporations. And because of the accessibility of world-wide telecommunications, the entire world knows instantly the moment a premediated murder occurs. But what do we do with this information? Do we change our immediate circumstances? Do we advocate for a gun-free society? Or do we carry, lock, and load? When a historical inspection of the wickedness and the evilness that humanity inflicts upon humanity is reviewed; it is obvious why the Wilderness Judge of Exodus directed the writer of the book of Exodus to incorporate the legal precept of an eye for an eye into the civil code of the wandering Hebrews.