The Bible's Views: How to treat capital punlishment, government, husband and wife relationships, child/parent relationships

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The Bible's Views: How to treat capital punlishment, government, husband and wife relationships, child/parent relationships

Post  Chasmira1060 on Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:43 pm

Another excerpt from a book I'm working on. Read and discuss.

The prisoners stumbled out in a solemn procession, like victims snaking reluctantly—yet without choice lest they wish to die sooner—to the guillotine. Or perhaps a burning at the stake is a more accurate comparison—I doubted these dragons permitted so instant and merciful a sentence as a guillotine’s blade.
The first two were a young couple, the man with bronzed skin and bulging muscles, the woman emaciated, her naturally tanned skin paled to a sickly white, like spoiling milk. Following was another young man, nothing to look at but bearing a whip, and behind him a young woman, gorgeous to behold, except her eyes. An eerie lifelessness glazed them, as though she purposely forgot what it was to feel, to be human. I shuddered. Then, another stern-looking man joined them. Trailing behind like a curl of insignificant smoke was a small child. At the last, a grizzly fellow in heavy shackles, their creaking and clanking the only sound, scraping my ears like nails on a chalk-board. Already, the madness of the situation nearly consumed me, and I wished only to scream for the awful noise to cease...
The prisoners stopped between the dragons and Sean. Pilate opened wide his foul mouth and declared,
“These prisoners are all charged or questioned with some crime or other. Master Sean, we shall give you the honor of passing their judgments—based on ‘Amiel’s Word’, as you claim to be so high an expert...
“Would Thomas Paigan step forth?”
The man in shackles creaked forward.
“Charged with raping and murdering ten different woman from multiple worlds. Found guilty. Master Sean, your sentence?”
“Death,” Sean said instantly and without accusation; indeed, a glimmer of compassion wavered in his eyes for the horrific monster of a man.
“Death?” scoffed a dragon.
“Indeed.”
“A bit harsh, don’t you think? Why not just throw him into a lifetime of prison—more of an extended punishment anyways, eh?”
“Is it?” he challenged.
They waited.
“A punishment? When our prisoners are fed decent foods and living quarters, granted modern technology, workout equipment, other opportunities that make it almost better to be in jail than on the streets! What true fear then exists for modern criminals to commit crimes? But if we reinstate the death penalty, as dictated by Amiel’s Word—“
“Amiel supports the death penalty?” jeered one of the dragons. “The God of Love? And does His Word not claim: ‘Thou shalt not kill’?”
“Indeed, good sirs. But those of us who carefully study the Scriptures—and in the originally language—know that such a commandment is better read: ‘Thou shalt not murder’ and is intended for individuals. But in the Old Testament, God set up laws so that government—not individuals—government alone could pass judgments which included the execution of criminals. This was to protect people as a whole. All murder is killing, but all killing is not murder; otherwise, the government would always be in the wrong for executing criminals and those who killed by accident or in self-defense would immediately be charged with as harsh a sentence as those true murderers.
“But the laws are meant truly to protect, and the people ought to obey the law, as stated in Romans 13:3: ‘For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.’
“’For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.’”
“However, if our government laws interfere with God’s laws and will, we must ever make that choice to follow God, such as in matters of abortion. But that is another matter for another time, perhaps.”
“Indeed,” muttered Pilate. “Moragon, step forth with your lovely ward...”
The man bearing the whip strode forward, the ghost-like lady floating behind him. I would say she followed timidly only that her head remained level, eyes staring forward and yet not seeming to see.
“Moragon,” Pilate nodded at the man, then, “Master Sean, observe.”
The man circled the girl, eying her hungrily like a starved lion circling his chosen, belovedly weak victim. Then, surging in for the kill—
“NO!”
Sean’s and my cries merged into one, reverberating plea, like an alerting gong. But I was helpless to rush to her, and Sean froze as if an invisible force gripped him...
Slash. Cut. Gash. Ooze. Spurt. Pour. Crack. Until she was a bloody heap. And then he was upon her, kissing her, touching her mangled body with grotesque fascination, ripping her clothes until she was like a limp rag doll, her delicate stuffing exposed. Tears caked her face, blurring the blood, but her cries quieted quickly into whimpers. Then, muttering some dark words, he squeezed her close to him—all wounds and blood dissipated.
I sighed deep relief. Realizing I panted hard, standing up and on the edge of toppling over the seat in front of me, I eased my way back into my chair. Adara laid a hand on my arm and held it firmly.
Sean’s face was drenched with sweat, eyes wide with unbelieving horror. He shook violently and could not quite regain his composure as he shouted shakily,
“What—pray tell—what in Amiel’s gracious name was deserving of that?!”
“Well,” said the man, “for one, she is the Elantra. In Adelar, we have adopted the old ways—one life for the people—and find many of our old riches restored.
“Furthermore, she is an adulterous whore. I caught her with her lover on several occasions—still, the stupid wench returns to him over and over—it’s disgusting—”
“What is disgusting is you!” Sean shrieks, jabbing an accusing finger at the man who hisses, bearing teeth like a rabid wolf. “The bind of the Moragon and Elantra is no marriage—forgive me for what I am about to say, but as an imperfect man, I can only commend the man who is her lover for granting some distraction—he is probably more her husband than this filthy creature!
“But even were this a true marriage, sanctioned by God, marriage is meant to be a binding of two lives together—when you harm her, it is like harming your own self. You are a poison to both of you! Women should respect their husbands and be a help and honor to them; but men too are to honor their wives and love them with as great and selfless and self-sacrificial a love as Christ had for the church. Ephesians 5: 22—33 condemn you!
“’ Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
“’For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
“’Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
“’Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
“’That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
“’That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
“’So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
“’For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
“’For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
“’For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
“’This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
“’Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband—”
“Silence swine!” shouted the man with the child, and none too soon. The Moragon’s eyes raged with a fire barely containable. Without distraction, he would have surely lurched like an untamed werewolf at his condemning rival.
The man barged forward, the child wisping behind like a small shadow. Unlike the Elantra’s eyes, fear glimmered clearly within his round, young spheres. I expect enough of his innocence lingered for him to not have lost himself to that fear. I shuddered once more, disgusted for a countless time that evening.
“I suppose next you will tell me it is a crime for me to beat my defiant fool of a son here—!”
“Ephesians 6,” Sean cut him off, glaring with as much menace as he had at Moragon, “doe tell children to obey their parents. However, the second commandment—one to parents—too often glanced over:
“’And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—”
“Proverbs 23:13! ‘Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.’
“This need not a physical rod, and even when it is, note the verse claims correction, not punishment—we are to correct our children out of love, with the purpose of teaching them right and preventing them doing wrong—not to beat them mercilessly out of love! Even when our Heavenly Father corrects us, it is out of love, not more than we can bear—He leads the perfect example—!”
“’Wives, submit to your husbands!’” sneered Moragon, stepping offensively forth; I gripped my armrests, cringing with the thought of that man laying into Sean. “You just said it yourself, and yet you deny my right—”
“The verse clearly is stated, good sir,” Sean all but bellowed; his face glowed red as he struggled to conceal his wrath, now bordering on the edge, “it is clearly stated as a commandment for wives; it does not command men to make their wives submit. They should do so willingly, looking to their men for guidance and protection and leadership even as the church looks to Christ for these things. But where in this verse do you see God permit the forced submission—physical or otherwise—both this boy and this young woman are slaves! They are victims of abuse who should be freed immediate—!”
One of the dragons hissed, tongue flicking like a river of blood or fire, slapping Sean hard on the jaw and he stumbled back, stunned.
“Your judgments are harsh where they should be lenient and petty where they should be great—are you a coward’s judge?! Justify your worthless answers!”
Sean drew himself up proudly, undaunted. “I pass judgments based upon Amiel’s own greatest commandments!
“Matthew 22:37:
“’...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“’This is the first and the greatest commandment’!
“’And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’
“Again—“
His voice swelled more and more passionately, eyes shining with a more fervent exhilaration, power and awe glowing brightly within as the majestic words resonated once more:
“—Deuteronomy 6:5:
“’And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’
“For:
“’Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law’! I pass my judgments based upon the pure, untainted, forgiving law of Amiel in as much as I can!”
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Re: The Bible's Views: How to treat capital punlishment, government, husband and wife relationships, child/parent relationships

Post  Sweedle P. on Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:44 pm

Ugh. Where to start with this one. . . .

Of the above topics, this post will address capital punishment.

First of all, you have hit upon what could be considered a pet peeve of mine. Prison is NOT a playground. Let me repeat: Just because we as a society provide basic necessities to those who have been incarcerated, it doesn't make being imprisoned for the rest of one's natural life any less of a punishment. To provide less than we already do would be inhumane. Without proper nutrition or facilities to exercise, muscles degenerate and prisoners become weak and susceptible to illness. Prisoner morale plunges, and those prisoners who are not too sickly to do so rise up and revolt and/or fight amongst themselves for what little resources they are given. The same goes if they are not given some basic form of entertainment to keep them occupied. Make no mistake: To describe a prison cell as "decent living quarters" is a gross over-estimation. The average size of a maximum security prison cell in the United States is about 8 by 12 feet -- only slightly bigger than the size of my bathroom. (To those who aren't aware, I have a very small bathroom.) What's more, many times prisoners do not occupy a cell alone. Exercise facilities are needed to keep the prisoners healthy and to release aggression. After all, if prisoners are too sickly from being locked away with inadequate nutrition or mobility, and without opportunities or access to education, how do you expect prisoners to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society? (Jesus won't find a person [paid] work.) Trust me when I tell you it is not better to be in jail than living on the streets.

Now, it may sound like I am forgetting something: Namely, that the people who are put in prison are put there to be punished. This is only partially true, by about one-fifth. The role of prisons or correctional systems is to make society a safer place. Generally, there are at least five considerations within this role: deterrence, retribution, incapacitation, reintegration, and rehabilitation. Surveys have shown that even prison guards actually believe in things like rehabilitation. They tend to be quite optimistic about inmate chances for success when they get out. This is surprising, since one might expect criminal justice employees who come into the closest contact with criminals, manipulators, and so forth, to have hardened attitudes (like police typically do) about criminals, but it is not the case with correctional officers. In fact, there is some research indicating that if guards were allowed to have more input into the counseling and rehabilitation of inmates, they might do a better job.

All in all, I am simply not willing to except that capital punishment was created by God, and that he mandates it. This is obviously justification by conservative Christians for views they already hold, the same as they justify calling abortion murder using the Bible when, in fact, it says something very different. Does this mean I don't believe in capital punishment? Not really. I believe that as we progress as a society, we can -- and should -- find better alternatives to the way we deal with criminals. In the meantime, what I speak out against is the disgusting attitude that retribution trumps any of the other four motives for our correctional systems that I listed above, which is essentially what such justification advocates. Of the five, deterrence, retribution, incapacitation, reintegration, and rehabilitation; retribution is the most primitive, barbaric and ineffectual motive for punishing a person. (Retribution does not protect anybody; be careful not to confuse it with deterrence.) I am sure any parent who has ever had to punish a child would agree. Why should our society be any different?
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Re: The Bible's Views: How to treat capital punlishment, government, husband and wife relationships, child/parent relationships

Post  Chasmira1060 on Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:35 am

You bring up some good points. I think I could say I am not quite as adamant about capitol punishment as the conservatives you speak of. Do not get me wrong--I think that wrong-doers should pay for their crimes. However, I can believe that with punishment can also come a chance for forgiveness and rebuilding new lives. This doesn't mean it will work for all prisoners. But even my church has a ministry of witnessing to people in jail, and they do see souls saved and changed for the better.

I also don't believe entirely in prison being a great place to live--for reasons I'll not discuss here.

Finally, one thing I could disagree with was those who say that lethal injection is too humane a way of death. maybe it's not painful, but I think it must be emotionally and psychologically terrifying, so I think it is not a lesser means of punishing those who are on death row. I mean, I personally would be terrified to lie on this table, knowing that as I was going to sleep, I would never wake again, and yet there was nothing I could do to stop those people. And especially for those who do not have the peace of knowing where they will go when they die.

So, I guess my view is two-fold. Punishment is needed to correct behavior. But, as you said, with punishment can also come teaching and correcting and leading to a better way of living. I don't think it works for all. And I still think there will be criems punishable by death. But perhaps some balance may be achieved of punishment and retribution, as you mentioned with the parenting analogy. You know me--I am concerned about saving souls, so I think it would be great IF society--better yet, Christians themselves--could find a way to reach such people.
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Re: The Bible's Views: How to treat capital punlishment, government, husband and wife relationships, child/parent relationships

Post  Sweedle P. on Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:08 am

Chasmira1060 wrote:I think I could say I am not quite as adamant about capitol punishment as the conservatives you speak of.
That's because you're not a conservative, you've just been indoctrinated by them. Razz

I understand that most of what you were doing was 'testing out' concepts recently discussed in Bible class at church. It's good to know you don't agree with all of it, because I personally was sitting there biting my tongue in two so as not to call the man out on some of the absurdities he was teaching.

Chasmira1060 wrote:Finally, one thing I could disagree with was those who say that lethal injection is too humane a way of death. Maybe it's not painful, but I think it must be emotionally and psychologically terrifying, so I think it is not a lesser means of punishing those who are on death row.
The people who teach that lethal injection is too humane are the same people that enable other fundamentalist to blow up abortion clinics. These are not ideas born of love and forgiveness, but of hatred and retribution. What kind of Christian would cause more suffering even while carrying out "an eye for an eye" as they deem mandated by the Bible?

Chasmira1060 wrote:So, I guess my view is two-fold. Punishment is needed to correct behavior. But, as you said, with punishment can also come teaching and correcting and leading to a better way of living.
I believe punishment is all about what is necessary. For example, we stop slapping a child's hand away from the stove when the danger is gone because she has finally learned how to use it. For there to be a punishment, there must first be a reason. If we had a drug or some form of treatment that would ensure that a killer would never kill again, would we need capital punishment? Moreover, this argument is strengthened when we imagine that this drug did not interfere with the [ex]criminal's capacity to lead a productive life: go back to work, pay taxes, raise his family, and be a father/brother/son once more to the people who love him. Finally, because we know that people who habitually commit crimes can have a measurable deficiency and/or anomaly in their brains, what if this medication allowed him to feel remorse for his actions (that is, if he did not already)? Would this, or should this, play any part in the government's decision of whether to put him to death?

The problem is, for most conservative Christians, the answer is no. They believe capital punishment is demanded by God and no amount of reasonable alternatives will convince them otherwise. In short, they are stuck in their beliefs, and they are so convinced they are right that, by the very nature of their own convictions, they could not change their mind even if they wanted to. This is dangerous thinking and certainly no way to govern. Society needs to be able to evolve and adapt to changing times. Technology and our understanding of human nature are constantly moving forward. To confine ourselves to bronze-age standards for anything, whether it be our moral code or the way we deal with criminals, would be to usher in a new Dark Ages.

Chasmira1060 wrote:You know me--I am concerned about saving souls, so I think it would be great IF society--better yet, Christians themselves--could find a way to reach such people.
Let us just hope they are not carrying a sword. While it seems that is what our Bible teacher would advocate, let us see what Jesus and the Bible had to say:
"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:22-23)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [Emphasis added.] (Galatians 5:22-23)
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