Thursday, January 26, 2012

Clarifing and Simplifying My Revenge Stand

As I promised, here is my follow-up post in response to some comments, and to clarify where I stand. In this post, I’m going to give a definition of revenge and justice and give my stance on both. I’ll start off with revenge. Revenge is, according to the Encarta dictionary, ‘the desire or urge to get even with somebody’ or, ‘the punishment of somebody in retaliation for harm done.’ It says that retaliation is, ‘to deliberately harm somebody in response or revenge for a harm he or she has done.’ I’m sure that everybody can agree that these definitions are correct, and after reading it they should be able to agree with me that revenge is wrong, period. Revenge has never been right, and never will be. When god mentions revenge in the Old Testament, I think that He meant justice. Now you might say, “God never said anything he didn’t mean.” That is also correct, but do you honestly think that God carried out the revenge which was just described by the dictionary? No, I’m sure you don’t. That’s because God didn’t carry out revenge, he carried out justice. Now, I’ll give a definition of justice and we’ll establish the difference between the two.
Justice: ‘fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made’
Justice: ‘the legal system, or the act of applying or upholding the law’
Now, we all see justice as this, but we also see it in a little deeper sort of way. We see justice as the ‘fair and reasonable’ way of punishing criminals, e.g. they administered justice on him. I made a mistake in my last post by calling it ‘of revenge’ instead of, ‘Of Revenge and Justice’. What I was really getting at in my last post I’ll sum up in five points.

  • Revenge is wrong. Today the majority of us see revenge as an act of anger with a motive to get even. That is generally what we think of when we think of revenge. According to Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
Leviticus 19:18
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
Romans 12:19
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

  • Justice should always be performed out of righteous anger and should be well considered before any action is taken. The basis of this point lies in the definition of justice. There is a huge difference between justice and revenge. People can get easily confused by what revenge and justice really are. There are people who think they are carrying out justice but are really only feeding their pride and carrying out their revenge, and there are people who are honestly trying to establish justice. Justice must be reasonable and fair, ‘especially in the way people are treated or decisions made’. Justice should never, in my opinion, be an ‘on the spot’ action. Meaning, of course, not that some decisions should not be made hurriedly when the criminal is running away, etc. but that it should not be an act done because of the sudden urge of emotion after a death, theft, or other such things.
  • I would not set a right-or-wrong law for self-defense. This is totally in the individuals hands. We have a right to defend ourselves if we are attacked, we don’t have to let somebody come up and kill us obviously. If you think you could make a difference by sparing the other man’s life, then by all means do so. If you think that this is what you should do, go ahead. Nobody except God should judge on the subject of self-defense. Don’t go looking for trouble though. “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling” from Proverbs 21. Christ was killed and died for all of us. When His murderers are judged in heaven they will get their full due, he didn’t rise to defend himself.
  • Government was provided for establishing justice by God. Now, I strongly believe that many of the government’s laws about murder and adultery are too slack and that the government doesn’t always carry out its job right. But nevertheless, if everyone goes out to establish their own justice we’d be back in the chaotic days of the Wild West. If people simply hand their private revenge over to the government’s public justice, they would not have the responsibility or the weight of the decision. I also have strong beliefs on the role of government, and how it has been corrupted, I am open to that topic at any time. 
  • What is past is irrevocable. We have control of our future, and the future of the person we decide to terminate. Wrongs that have been done to us cannot be reversed. No amount of tears, threats, or revenge is going to replace what we lost or what was done. Proverbs says that it ‘is a man’s glory to overlook a fault. Make the decision to live for The One, and to let things pass. What good are you going to get out of killing the offender? At the risk of taking away his salvation? I don’t mean that murderers should be allowed to roam the streets freely, they should be punished, but don’t get involved in private quarrels. “God is the one who justifies, who is the one who condemns?” Romans 8               I hope this clarifies my stand, and I thank all the readers who read this.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Hosts Of the Sky are Marching

The Hosts of the Sky are Marching

On a night when the wind is blowing,
As I stand on the shore of a lake,
When the clouds above me are growing,
And change and form the wisps of a snake.

I feel a sudden rustle,
I’m no longer in reality,
The clouds begin to hustle,
And the earth below grows misty.

That’s when I know their marching,
 The hosts of innumerable size,
They form and start their arching,
As they move across the skies.

Then the God of Glory thunders.
The earth shakes beneath His throne,
And all the population wonders,
What is it they have sown?

The majesty of the sky is old,
Made with a wondrous strength
An awesome wonder to behold,
No man can grasp their length.

Who can measure their endlessness?
Who marked the heavens with a span?
Who could form their vastness?
And hold it in the hollow of His hand?

Oh, for the touch of the Maker’s hand
Many of us on earth do long for,
We stand high upon our castles of sand,
And reach upward to an open door.

A golden door, never closed,
A way through, a way between,
A way to Holiness and He who arose
A way to glory, and things unseen.


Of Revenge Part 2

An important point to realize is that when you take a life, you have just cut off that person’s chances of salvation. Think about that, you just sent someone to Hell. Let me give you another example. Dick comes into Bob’s house. Dick points a gun at Bob’s kid and says, ‘your money or his life and the money.” Bob’s wife is standing around the corner with a .223 rifle. Does she shoot the man in the head or the leg? The point of this example is to show you that there’s a big difference between the prideful attitude of, “you set foot in my house, I’m gonna kill you,” and the necessary action of saving your children, (or your wife, husband, brother, sister etc.) by disabling the man and calling the police. Remember that when you strike someone down, you have just taken away a chance of salvation. You have just ignored the cost of Christ’s dying on the cross to save all men. Do you think He’s going to be very happy with you?
Now don’t think that killing is never necessary, in fact, doesn’t the bible say in Numbers 35: 30,
‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”? That means anyone. There is a time for killing someone who murders because the value of human life is incredible and that privilege cannot be taken away and made light of. But where do we draw the line between justice and revenge? Now you might say, well since I’m not angry I am obviously just carrying out justice. This issue is sooo difficult to debate/argue/discuss about that I shall save it for the question I would ask God when I enter Heaven, as I am sure that I will. 
If you are in a situation where somebody is going to kill you unless you kill them, this situation is brought to the level of self-defense. At this level everyone has to make their own decision. In June of this year I poked my head into a debate between my eldest sister and her friend and told her that if someone was going to shoot you, and you have to shoot back, they’re sending themselves to wherever they go, Heaven or Hell. I basically said, ‘look, someone has already made the decision to kill you, they have already battled their conscience and have made up their mind to kill you, so is it your fault if they go to Hell?”  Which is a good point, but who said that person makes the last decision? There are millions of people who made up their minds to turn away from God and then came right back again. It has been man’s continual choice to turn away from God since Adam fell. That is human nature, but that doesn’t make it acceptable or moral or right. My mind is still not quite made up on that subject completely, but at this moment I would say yes. It is your fault. Now this is personally. This is for me. If I was attacked during the night and had a gun on me, I would probably shoot the person out of mere fright. If I could collect my thoughts, think about it for a few seconds I would probably take the bullet. I pray that I am never in such a situation.

 You know, maybe by dying I can be an example because what would you think if you’re pointing a gun at me and I lay down the gun I have and take your bullet. Wouldn’t you be dumbfounded? Here’s another example: Jason is standing in front of a firing squad about to be shot for murder on three occasions. William rolls along in his new Mercedes and gets out, hands the keys to Jason and takes his place. Jason drives away, and William gets shot. That would be truly incredible. That’s exactly what Jesus did for us, and what happened in the Narnia Chronicles, ‘when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the (Stone) Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” How amazing is that? Can we do what was done for us? And are we worthy of His Name?

Some people are sensitive as to their family and friends and would say something like, “well, I know what I should do, but this is my brother,” or something along those lines. Some people wouldn’t kill for the neighbor down the street, but would kill anyone who even threatened the life of their family member or friend. What kind of logic is that? Your brother isn’t more important than right or wrong, the neighbor down the street or God’s laws!

Maybe people are thinking, if there is no law for the punishment of a wrong, and the person who did it is outside of the law, then things change. Where is the line to be drawn between necessity and vengeful character? Honestly, I don’t think humans have an answer to that question, so I’m not going to address that issue. Maybe in the future I will post my beliefs and thoughts on the issue because that moves to another level, Necessity and Motives. Here are some basic questions I would ask myself before I took a vengeful action.

1. Am I right? - This means, am I right in the first place? Am I avenging an innocent person, someone who was wrongly accused, or killed without reason? Or am I defending someone who needs justice?
2. Am I angry? - If I’m really angry, to clear up my thinking I should consider Thomas Jefferson’s maxim, “If angry, count to ten before speaking, if very angry, one hundred.”
3. Is it important? –Is my action really necessary? Am I feeding my pride? Being stubborn? Does it matter what I do? If I do it, are things going to be better than they were before? 
4. How am I going to feel later? – This question is very important. Am I going to feel sorry, bad, disappointed or depressed when you’ve taken the vengeful action? If you are, this action probably won’t be necessary or moral. 
5. What are your Motives? - Why are you doing it? There is a host of questions that can go in this category and if I listed them all, the average person who did something out of revenge wouldn’t be able to answer them. This category is so broad and changes for each person. Every person has different thoughts about revenge and has different motives but if your actions are prideful, stubborn, angry, selfish, unnecessary, un-biblical and sinful then maybe you should check yourself. Each situation is different and every decision is different. Sometimes God speaks to a specific person and tells them to do certain things, to kill certain people and to revenge him or his people. Every vengeful action should be prayed about and thought about carefully, in the end, whatever you decide is none of man’s concern. What you do is between you and God, nobody can judge you. Live for an audience of one. You can decide if that’s going to be one, or The One, it’s your decision.

God is the Judge, of the people who committed the wrong and of your resulting actions. God uses people to carry out His will in different situations. Before I take a vengeful action I would clear my motives and my actions. Motives aren’t everything though, as in Jurassic Park III, ‘some of the best motives have brought about the most disastrous things.’ I would pray and look at the Scriptures before I took any actions.

I hope I haven’t utterly confused you. I’ll sum up this argument in conclusion: Revenge is wrong, period. Don’t get revenge mixed up with necessity or justice though. The arguments for the justice side of this argument are endless. I hate to even think about them. I’ve had quite a long discussion with two people about this before and we have never even made dents in this aspect of it. Try it yourself. You’ll be led to the role of government, the Bible, Faith and a host of other things. Maybe someday I’ll undertake to write a book about these ominous subjects: Revenge, Justice, and Necessity.

Of Revenge

The notable knight, Sir Francis Bacon, and renowned scientist, wrote over thirty essays; one of which I recently read and found quite identical to my own beliefs on the subject. Below is his essay, OF REVENGE:

"Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong, putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure, saith, ‘It is the glory of a man, to pass by an offense. That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do, with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that labor in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong, for the wrong's sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honor, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man, for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong, merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge, is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; but then let a man take heed, the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous, the party should know, whence it cometh. This is the more generous. For the delight seemeth to be, not so much in doing the hurt, as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards, are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable; You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we are commanded to forgive our friends. But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we (saith he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to take evil also? And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal, and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges, it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.”

I will first talk about what Bacon said according to my interpretation and what I think about it, and then what I think on the matter as a whole. revenge, according to Bacon, ‘is a wild kind of justice’ and ‘puts the law out of office’. Revenge is a selfish, arrogant way of making the other feel your anger, a striking back in pride. As Bacon wisely said, ‘Solomon, I am sure, saith ‘it is a glory of a man to pass by an offense’. Wise men have enough to trouble about with the future and the present to also busy themselves with past grievances and offenses which are entirely irrevocable, to take the words from Bacon’s own mouth. Bacon also says that the ‘most tolerable’ sort of revenge is that kind which there is no law to punish and also that, “public revenge is the most fortunate…”

When I think of revenge I always think of it being a way to get even, to show yourself as prideful in not letting a grievance against you pass. For when we try to get even, we are stooping lower than the level of the person who offended us. Now, I’m talking about simple revenge, as in a joke, or losing a game, or something that humiliated you etc. But what about the bigger things, murder, theft, things which are serious, and need judgment? What do you do then, things against your family? Not necessarily against your pride? I have talked with people who think revenge is a necessity, a way to bring justice upon the heads of those who committed a crime against you. These people would kill any person who killed a family member or loved one and what I find worse, in that situation they would overpass what God said about revenge, ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’

Leviticus 19:18
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Romans 12:19
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

These are just a few of the verses in the bible about vengeance. From these verses I get the interpretation that vengeance is God’s responsibility and that, as Romans says, we must ‘leave room for the wrath of God.’ When people start taking the law into their own hands, chaos reigns. What I find unbelievable is that these people I talk to will not bow to the will of God, as written clearly in His Word. Can we claim His Name if we won’t listen to his commandments? Do we doubt God’s ability to give justice and to uphold our cause?

Here I’ll give you an example of a case which, by his writings, seems to us done out of pure motives. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a devout Christian, attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler during WW II. Dietrich was caught and executed, firm to the last in his Christian beliefs and the morality of his decision. I have not read a biography of his life but this is the main premise. Dietrich believed that Hitler had to be stopped. He believed that he was going to kill the murderer of six million Jews. Dietrich failed. I wonder why? As humans we can’t make the decision why he failed, in fact, it’s not even right to try to judge him at all. What I thought when I heard about it, was, why did he fail? And why was Hitler allowed to go on for so long? I wondered why God didn’t allow Dietrich to carry out his plans. We don’t know Dietrich’s motives and we can’t point fingers at what he did, but this got me thinking, you know, many people tried to kill Hitler, none of them succeeded. Why? I think this is an example of God taking his own revenge. He will judge every person in the end, whether we did it on earth or not and we don’t want to be judged for judging others on earth.

Sometimes God uses other people to execute justice and revenge, as in this passage, “Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’S vengeance on Midian.”

Here is a verse which clearly states that the Israelites were used by God to execute his justice. Obviously, man is often used to execute justice. I mean, what do governments do? We have a legal justice system for punishing criminals. I won’t get into the complicated theories of government responsibility and why they are just the same as us, but this is my point; we shouldn’t take justice into our own hands. By that I mean that it is not moral or right for us to go looking for the criminal. It’s one thing to defend yourself or your family but after the wrong is done and you go looking for the criminal, it becomes different. Did you notice that I said ‘looking for’? This is an important point. When you want to take vengeful action, ask yourself this, “am I seriously just about to go looking for the person who did this to me?” Sometimes being right isn’t enough, you have to let things go, ‘pass by an offense’ and for the bigger things you have to trust that God will judge them and provide justice. This is a bit vague and you may not exactly get my point. My point is what Bacon said in his essay, “It is the glory of a man to pass by an offense.’ That which is past is gone and irrevocable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that labor in the past matters.” In my opinion, we shouldn’t go looking for someone who has done us wrong. The wrong is done, it’s ‘irrevocable’. Nothing we can do will change it and if we are seriously going out looking for someone who did us wrong, most of the time it’s out of revenge. We cloak it with words like ‘justice; ‘moral punishment etc. We need to realize that yes, maybe that person deserves to be killed, maybe it would be just and moral punishment but who says we decide? God gives life, cursed be the man who takes it away needlessly. “God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns?” (Romans 8) Now don’t think that I’m saying that justice should always be left to God and the government, no way! God has placed a government among men to execute His justice, HIS justice, not ours. We should realize that the government and all of mankind is on earth to glorify Him and we are just his tools for establishing justice.

To be continued...