Friday, July 18, 2008

Bring out your just!

A serial rapist lies on his deathbed. He's been thinking about his life, and a wave of recrimination hits him for all the women he's hurt, all the pain he's caused. He sees what his behavior truly was, and he's grief-stricken. He doesn't want to die like this, realizing that he has not done one iota of good in his life. Sure, no one ever caught him in what he did, and he appeared good on the outside. But he can't avoid seeing the truth now. So he calls out to God, he genuinely repents of his sins, he accepts the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus. Five minutes later, the rapist is dead. Jesus, sitting on the throne of judgement, welcomes the new child of God into Heaven.

Victim #1 was attacked when she was 18. It was long, it was brutal, and she never saw the attacker's face. She tried to pick her life back up, go to college, not be defined by this one event. She talked to a counselor, she considered God, she even had periods in her life where she had forgiven the attacker. She would put this behind her, meet someone, and start a family. Yet every time she tried to get close to another man, she froze. She flashed back to that moment, physical contact repealed her, and she died alone. Jesus, sitting on the throne of judgement, says, "Depart from me, I never knew you."

Victim #2 was attacked when she was 45. A mother of two children, vice president of a company, successful in every way possible. Things like this didn't happen to her. Yet, she was attacked. She rallied back, also determined to pick up her life. With the help of her family, she was successful, and decided to help others who were attacked in the same way, or those exploited by similar situations. She directs her company's resources to this job, and ends up helping hundreds. Her death was mourned by all she helped, and her life was celebrated for how she was not overcome by evil. Jesus, sitting on the throne of judgement, tells her, "Depart from me, for I never knew you."

Victim #3 was special. She was kidnapped by the attacker when she was five, and not rescued until ten years later. She had been used in horrible ways, and consequently, was unable to rise above her circumstances. She offered herself to anyone who would have her, let them use her body in any way they pleased. She found things that made her body feel better, that made her only happy. She died alone, unnoticed, not mourned by anyone. Jesus, sitting on the throne of judgement, tells her, "Depart from me, for I never knew you."

The "worst" person of the group went to eternal paradise. The other three, the innocent victims, end up in hell, because they have "rejected God."

In what way is this just? I've been on a few blogs that had provided examples as to why they find it difficult to believe in God -- such as the circumstances that occured to Victim #3. Or that recent news, where I believe the daughter was held in the basement by her own father.

A common Christian response was that there would be justice done in the end, for what happened to the victim. Really? Because my understanding is that if the attacker confesses his sins and truly repents, the confessor is then free. There is no punishment, there is no justice in a legal system sort of way (such as rape someone, go to jail). Rather, Jesus has almost provided the "get out of jail" free card.

And the victims, since they have rejected God, end up in hell. So at what point did the victims receive this supposed justice?

I have a feeling the argument would be that Jesus took the punishment the rapist deserved, but that really doesn't cut it for me. Jesus didn't rape the victims, the rapist did. And if Jesus takes the punishment, then that is a distortion of what justice is all about.

8 comments:

mysteryofiniquity said...

You know, this has always bothered me as well. If we can repent on our deathbeds after an evil life, why not do it? Nothing lost, but everything gained. In fact a couple parables imply this: the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16), and the first shall be last sayings.

And working off your victim vignettes, what if a victim cannot in her mind reconcile all that's necessary to make a "decision" for Christ in her mind. She is hindered or hampered by nightmares, fuzzy thinking, and depression? Does God hold that against them? Yet, the rapist is a clear thinker and makes it?

No doubt many will say that sin is sin and none is more heinous than another. I used to believe this, but now I'm not so sure. Conversely, goodness and acts of mercy are all the same too? Anyway, good provocative thoughts on a Sunday morning!

Lorena said...

Well put. I couldn't agree with you more.

Martin Luther, the guy who came up with the "grace" and unconditional salvation theories thought he was improving Christianity. But he made it worse.

When salvation is preached as "by works," it makes more sense, and it is more just as well. Not that it would bring me back to the faith either way.

Mystical Seeker said...

I agree with you that there is no real justice in the paradigm that you describe, which is pretty much the salvation model that I was taught when I was growing up. On the one hand, I'm not big on the idea of "salvation" as some kind of justice that is meted out after death, and ultimately I would rather not worry about an afterlife. On the other hand, though, I do believe in the idea of divine grace. I just don't believe that it is meted out after death based on who happens to have the right theology before they died. I think that it make a lot more sense that God's love and grace and mercy are not dependent on what we believe, and that it is ongoing in our life, and that it applies to everyone everywhere.

OneSmallStep said...

MOI,

**If we can repent on our deathbeds after an evil life, why not do it? Nothing lost, but everything gained.**

This also bothers me because it says nothing about your life matters except for repenting in time. It cheapens the whole aspect of love and justice.

**Does God hold that against them? Yet, the rapist is a clear thinker and makes it?**

Or what if she's hindered by the fact that God is male?

**No doubt many will say that sin is sin and none is more heinous than another. I used to believe this, but now I'm not so sure. **

I don't believe this. There is a world of difference between having lustful thoughts for another woman, and actually cheating on your wife. Hopefully, the person would find a way to deal with the thoughts so it wasn't a perpeutual thing. But the person who does indulge in the lustful thoughts, and then makes the choice to remain committed to the wife is a better person than someone who committs adultery.

Lorena,

**When salvation is preached as "by works," it makes more sense, and it is more just as well. Not that it would bring me back to the faith either way.**

I think it makes more sense, at times, as well. Faith/belief is often a lot easier than good actions. It can require less effort, and you can be automatically excused for anything wrong that you do.

Mystical,

**On the other hand, though, I do believe in the idea of divine grace.**

I think grace also gets distorted as well, with the whole focus of how unearned and undeserving it is. I look at grace more as an aspect of divine power in one's life, that can help someone through difficult times.

Mystical Seeker said...

I think grace also gets distorted as well, with the whole focus of how unearned and undeserving it is.

Yes, it often is presented that way, unfortunately. To me, a much better way to look at it is that God doesn't love us despite what terrible sinners we are, but rather that God loves us because of what we are.

Luke said...

i'm right with you on this one! i like a comment from Mystical Seeker's site where Cynthia states "If grace is exclusionary, it isn't really grace."

Luther was all about total grace.. John Wesley more so... but Calvin was an exclusionary grace kinda guy.

i know this is talking around the justice issue... but i agree with you 100% there. Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world is a little too magical thinking for my tastes.. i prefer the Memetic Stance on this, which views Jesus as "Jesus is also made a scapegoat; an innocent who is first the admired hero of his people and then is the abject victim who is sacrificed to resolve social tensions. Like in this previous post, Jesus was subversive. Jesus endangers his society's security to the point where the leaders fear divine wrath. But unlike Job, Jesus refuses the accusations of his persecutors. The Gospels lay bare the scapegoat mechanism directly."

http://toothface.blogspot.com/2008/02/old-way-trodden-by-victim.html

RAWK

OneSmallStep said...

Luke,

I like the scapegoat imagery. I always found it interesting that the scapegoat was sent away alive, and in essence, it wasn't the scapegoat that changed, it was the people's perception of said scapegoat that changed.

Luke said...

yeah! absolutely!