Scripture: Mark 4:21-25; Deuteronomy 17:2-7
We continue this week with our sermon series, The Ripple Effect. Last week, we discussed how our tribal ancestors would use violence to create peace. Our tribal ancestors maintained peace by removing offensive people from the tribe through violence. We don’t do that today. Thanks to the influence of Christian morals on our society, killing someone because we deem them deplorable is no longer socially acceptable, which I think we can all agree, is a good thing.
However, the alternative that we’ve developed is that we remove people from society through imprisonment. If you do something that society deems deplorable, then we sequester you away for years or decades. Because we depend so much on police officers, the courts, and the prisons to keep our society in order, we tend to have an implicit trust that the system is doing its job properly—keeping the bad guys off the streets and allowing the good guys to remain in society.
Indeed, part of the reason why we trust the system so much is because there are checks and balances built in to prevent the wrong person from being convicted of the wrong crime. If the police arrest the wrong guy, the prosecutors are supposed to look at the evidence and determine if it makes sense to press charges. If the prosecutors get it wrong, then courts are supposed to correctly determine innocence or guilt. If the wrong guy gets convicted of a crime, then the appeals process is supposed to allow the innocent person to work towards exoneration.
What happens when this system doesn’t work? What happens if an innocent person falls through the cracks? This Sunday, we will discuss one such story and our responsibility as Christians towards resolving these types of situations in the criminal justice system. I hope you can be present. Don’t let the cold keep you away. Stay warm and I’ll see you on Sunday!