Justice, or mercy?

That’s the former gangbanger Tookie Williams, now the flavor of the month for guilty white (and black) liberal celebs, and others with far too much time on their hands. Williams is a stone killer, and, just as is written in Exodus 21:12, is scheduled to be executed for his crimes: “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death.”

But wait, some people say: didn’t Jesus overturn this Law? Well, yes, and no. What he did do was tell us to love our enemies, and that he would be back to do the final judging. As for the Law, including Exodus 21, he if anything reaffirmed it: “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18).

Ah, but there’s always another hand: On that other hand, Jesus made a counter example of the sinful woman the crowd was about to execute for adultery in accordance with Leviticus 20:10. The morality tale unfolds in John 8:2-11, and the essence of the message is this: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

Does this apply to those who would execute Tookie Williams? If not, what makes his crimes different as regards the Law in Exodus and Leviticus? Yet we wouldn’t think of, for example, executing a child convicted of striking his father (Exodust 21:15). Well, some of you might, but most of us would think this to be, oh, to coin a phrase, cruel and unusual punishment. But from a theological point of view, these cases are not different — if one views the Bible’s truths as unchanging as unchangeable.

So, what might Jesus have done with Tookie Williams? First, he likely wouldn’t stop the execution, since Williams has not repented — i.e. has not confessed publically (he did to a fellow prisoner) nor requested forgiveness for his crimes. The only data we have as to what Jesus would have done is when he was on the cross, between two others condemned to die. Jesus let them die, with a promise to the faithful “thief” (actually a rebel and likely killer) that he would be with Jesus later that day in paradise.

Jesus lived in Roman times, and he was not a political revolutionary. He was content to let the Romans hold sway over the secular world. But we are not Roman pagans. We are a Christian nation, and I’d come down on the side of mercy, albeit unearned, for Williams. Let him live, and continue to do a little good. Keep him locked away, and let God judge him.

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2 comments

  1. silas jones · · Reply

    I agree that mercy should be given to Williams, despite whether he deserves it or not – however, some confusion might be caused by people thinking that by requesting that he not be put to death, he is asking for forgiveness. Perhaps elaborate on the difference between asking for forgiveness and asking for a different type or the removal of punishment?

  2. John Luke · · Reply

    Silas Jones asks me to “elaborate on the difference between asking for forgiveness and asking for a different type or the removal of punishment.”

    Two entirely different things. Asking forgiveness means that he (Williams) should ask those who stand for his victims for their forgiveness, and also asking God to be forgiven. Both of these, to be sincere, must include an admission of guilt (assuming the man is guilty, as has been proven at least in our courts) — and a sincere repentance, meaning a pledge to never again commit such a crime and to know how evil those crimes were.

    Asking for a lessened (or no) punishment requires no repentance nor forgiveness. Just that such mercy is much more likely to be forthcoming if Williams were to confess, repent, and ask forgiveness of victims and God.

    Williams is a most unsympathetic figure to me. Yet still deserving of mercy.

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