*Well, I warned you that I’ve been less than faithful at keeping up blogs in the past.  Here I go again; a clean slate, indeed.

I looked through my last post, Crime and Lenience, Part 1, and I’m not too happy with it; I don’t think I really said what I wanted to, and certainly I didn’t say what I did in the best way I could have.  But oh well.

I’ve been wasting time over the last few months thinking about how to follow it up, and along the way, a couple of related topics popped up.  The last firing squad execution ever to be held in the U.S. (I believe that claim is accurate; look it up, and correct me if I’m wrong) was performed in Utah.  My own state, Washington, performed their own execution (a lethal injection), a very rare occurrence here.

These stories caused me to rethink my own views a bit.  Do I support the death penalty?  Would I be willing to fire the shot?

I still don’t feel that punishment is the most effective means of deterring crime, but it is somewhat effective–effective at getting people to obey the letter of the law, anyway.  After all, I may not be watching the road, but I’m certainly obeying the speed limit.  But as Kiran pointed out, punishment is not only a means of deterrence but also a means of satisfying our desire for justice.

Yet justice can’t really be done.  After all, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” as Gandhi said.  And killing a murderer, especially one who has killed multiple times, does nothing to heal the victims’ families.  If justice is about balancing the scales, one bad person’s death doesn’t equal one good person’s death.  The scales are still unbalanced.

But I still feel that the murderer deserves it.  For all that I’m for grace in most things (I love People of the Second Chance, by the way), there are some times that society cannot afford to give it.  I don’t know where that line is, but I know it exists, and if our society determined that someone had crossed it (which currently only happens in the most extreme cases), I could fire the shot.  And, sadly, I can’t think of a better system than we have set up in this country to determine when someone has crossed it. . . at least, not before the Second Coming.

Which brings me to the point I really wanted to hit: God is both merciful and just.  And God’s mercy and justice are both perfect.  God doesn’t make bad calls.  He gives the right verdict every time, and He can’t be bribed.  When the Lord returns, there will be no more debate; our incorruptible King will dispense both mercy and justice according to His will, and we will know that His ruling is perfect.

In conclusion, then, I’m hoping that I won’t have to worry about this question much longer.