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September 9, 2008 / beidson

Fighting Terror With Terror

There is a reason why we see such political fervor these days as we look to November when we will go behind the curtain, as it were, into the “most holy place.”  For many people this election is inherently moral in nature, for one reason or another.  There is a sense in which every voter is hoping to bring about a chain of events in which he or she believes justice will be carried out in the greatest way possible.  For many Americans, Super Tuesday is more than Election Day; it’s Judgment Day.

Justice isn’t a personal matter of conscience, strictly speaking.  It is personal, to be sure, but it is collectively personal.  And there is a reason for this.  Government is God’s institution; he puts kings into power, and has given governments the sword to enforce just laws–government does not bear the sword in vain, or at least, it shouldn’t.  The reason we get angry when scandalous news surfaces about our own government or those abroad is because we understand that justice is being threatened, and if not corrected, will eventually lead to national self-destruction and perhaps global catastrophe.  It is only a matter of time before injustice in Washington spreads to the corn fields of Iowa.  And so we are right to get angry at injustice, in whatever way it is practiced.

Proverbs 21:15 says, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”  Government does not bear the sword in vain.  It is a real threat to those who would dare be impartial and unjust, whether it is by corporate fraud or familial homicide.  When government executes justice against criminals it is affirming the necessity of absolute truth and the value of human life. 

For instance, consider capital punishment.  Far from trivializing the value of human life, the death penalty reinforces what we already naturally know to be true: that it is wrong to kill someone with evil intentions.  Capital punishment affirms both the value of the convicted and the offended: for the convicted, we are treating him with dignity by first of all holding him responsible for his actions, and secondly, by doing so corporately without mixture of personal revenge; for the offended, we are placing infinite worth on his or her life by executing judgment against their offender.  Captial punishment is a consequence of a pro-life worldview.

On the other hand, when governments do not execute justice, we are alarmed and outraged and sometimes even terrified.  Justice is to be a terror to evildoers, Proverbs says, not to upstanding citizens.  But unfortunatley this does not always happen.  What is the logic behind ending capital punishment and protecting pro-choice legislation?  Does it really make sense to fight for the life of a convicted murderer and look the other way when it comes to 50 million aborted babies?  Those who are really pro-choice ought to understand that criminals choose to break the laws, and murderers choose to take life.  Unborn children, however, have no choice at all when it comes to abortion.  In this case, we must be very suspicious of anyone who claims to stand for justice while at the same time denying justice to so many little ones.

But when justice is carried out, whether through capital punishment, a life-sentence, or heavy fines for lesser crimes, we can be glad and rejoice that our government is fulfilling its God-given mandate to bear the sword for our good.  This will certainly deter criminal behavior.  For those who would disagree, let the history books speak for themselves, and let the Bible speak above all conventional wisdom and temporal understanding.

The best way to fight the terror we see daily in our communities is not with therapy and support groups, but with terror of a different kind.  Of course, this is only possible in a society that does not call evil “good” and good “evil.”  Let’s pray to God that the terror of facing a risen Judge will evidence itself in just and moral legislation.  You can be sure that King Jesus will not excuse the pro-choice supporter for fighting against life, the very thing he bought with his blood.  Nor will any world leader be excused for sacrificing justice on the altar of tolerance, convenience or power–they were not put into power for personal gain, but for public service, and above all, to defend justice, not deny it.

Remember what the Scriptures say to us: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).  Here is the sort of terror that will keep us from the fear of men, and for this, we can all be terribly grateful.

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