Friday, July 30, 2010

Eye for Eye

Since the 1982 movie, Gandhi, a version of a quote attributed but never actually sourced to Mahatma Gandhi has been floating around:

"'An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth' leaves the whole world blind and toothless."

I pretty well ignored it, feeling that it was mocking God, until I saw an episode of a TV series recently that had a Jewish man say that scripture is about money.

"It is?" My attention was caught.

I looked it up and to my surprise, of the four references in the Bible, only one is about justice in general.

The first reference, Exodus 21:22-25, is about being careful around women, specifically a pregnant woman. It's saying that men can't cause harm to an expectant mother either on purpose or inadvertently.

It says that an unborn child is precious and the father will determine the amount of the fine as punishment for causing the miscarriage and judges shall determine how it shall be paid.

It also says that should the mother be injured, the person who injured her will receive the same injury. He will have to endure the result of the same injury he caused her to bear.

How good God is to have a law ensuring an expectant mother and her unborn child won't be harmed by instituting consequences if they are.

How sad it is that men were so disrespectful of women and children that such a law had to be written.

How sad it is that after all this time, there are still people today who don't value women, motherhood, or unborn children.

The second reference, Leviticus 24:17-20, says that someone cannot kill or physically harm someone else without being put to death or receiving the same bodily harm as punishment. I believe this is the scripture used for general retribution. However, I see it not as leaving the whole world blind and toothless, but as a deterrent. How many people would purposely kill or injure another person knowing that they will be put to death or receive the same injury? That's like putting out your own eye. It simply isn't believable that people would do that to themselves.

The third reference, Deuteronomy 19:16-21, is about a false witness who lies with the intention of causing harm to someone else. The harmful judgment the victim was meant to get is to be the liar's punishment. This scripture is to discourage people from framing others and to discourage lying.

The fourth reference, Matthew 5:14-16, 38-48; is the most interesting because Jesus tells His followers that we are no longer like everybody else, but that we are the light of the world. In our new position, we are to treat everyone as God does, with love.

Do we do that?

If we do, with the wisdom that the Lord gives us, don't some non-believers, and so-called Christians, too, misinterpret our obedience and trust in Him as weakness and try to take advantage of us? After all, they don't know God or understand that our turning the other cheek or going the extra mile is done out of strength.

Because we already know how the story ends.

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