In September I posted a letter I wrote asking to be excused from jury duty for reasons of conscience. Some of you pushed so gently back on me, and I would like to explain my position further, listening more to you if you have more to say.
Please hear this with the love I feel. Christians have disagreed about this matter ever since the beginning. My position is a classic peace-people reluctance to “take up the sword.” But you are entitled to disagree, with your own classic ideas—or novel, as you wish! We won’t resolve the questions on this blog, but we can learn from each other, and seek Jesus together. I don’t have a leg up on holiness, and I welcome your thoughts.
Read previous post here.
How is justice brought about?
The line in my jury letter should have read “I cannot in good conscience stand in legal judgment of another human.” For me, the issue is not about a Christian being unable to judge fairly. I agree with Jenni—Christians judge best. Christians judge with authority. But who gives them their power?
Wouldn’t Christians also make the best soldiers? They would be honest, courageous, committed, and respectful. They would be morally upright and kind to civilians. Yet I see both kinds of participation as linked, jurors and soldiers—they rely on government action against evil.
Paul’s indignant Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? ridicules the idea that a Christian brother would take another Christian brother to law. You’ve been given the keys of heaven and hell, people. What earthly judge can compete with that? Wield the power you’ve been handed!
A position of “political noninvolvement” should never be an excuse for winking at sin within the church, or hiding our heads from sin without. That’s why I said not only “rescue” and “bind up” but also “chastise” and “tear down.”
My own opinion is that the Church’s sin in this matter has been failing to realize the authority SHE has been handed, a power that far supersedes any other, but operates with a completely different set of weapons.
She works for justice, yes. And mercy. And the kingdom marching forward. Sometimes her authority means the power to move in boldly, challenging and confronting evil. Sometimes it means the grace to wait in faith, suffering alongside my brother until the Lord steps in to make all wrongs right. So much of the time, it means both.
I suppose all evil comes ultimately from Satan, with a high cost in human life and happiness. But some is so blatant it makes our blood boil (occultism, abortion, child slavery). Some is so mixed, so human, so confusing, so lose-lose that it makes our hearts break (government policies, family disputes, and the knowledge that someone I love hurt someone I love).
Government power is deceptively effective. It half works, right? It has decreased crime, protected many innocents, worked toward economic equality… It has a place, and I respect that. But it never changes hearts. Never! Always it works from external pressure—things like handcuffs. Jail. Juries. Edicts. Bullets.
I’m not willing to operate on that plane. Agreeing “He deserves punishment” is different from saying “I must join in punishing him.” I’ve been handed power that works from the inside. Repentance. Faith. Mercy. Courage. Hope. Even reading over that list, I feel rising frustration at the “weakness” of the tools I’ve been handed. How can you change the world with that…? But it’s the way change will come, people.
Because I have sworn allegiance to another kingdom—not one in some future time and space, but one that infiltrates the present, in power NOW though always increasing, always looking over its shoulder for the reinforcements and the Grand Invasion—I prefer to work for peace (exclusively, you understand?) with its methods, its patience, its hope.
Justice is on its way!
How do you work to bring it about?