Saturday, July 9, 2011

Justice For All???

I need to begin this article with a disclaimer. I think Casey Anthony was guilty of killing her 2 year old daughter; I think the State of Florida presented sufficient evidence to prove it; and I am disgusted by the verdict of “Not Guilty”. I hope that members of the jury will come forward and explain how they could have arrived at their verdict, but I doubt that will make me feel much better.

I have always been intrigued with the practice of law. I worked one summer in the office of the Wyandotte County District Attorney, and found it utterly fascinating. I received my undergraduate degree from Washburn University, attending that particular school because I intended to go on to attend Washburn Law School. The Lord had other plans for me, but I still enjoy following trials like the Casey Anthony case.

I believe in our system of justice. I think trial by a jury of our peers is one of the most outstanding distinctions between American justice and that of most any other nation in the world. I believe that it is proper that the State has to meet a high burden of proof to convict a person of a crime. And I believe that a person found guilty should be punished to the full extent of the law. I wish it had happened in this case.

But it didn’t. For reasons that have yet to be explained and that will probably never be fully understood by most of us, 12 men and women adjudicated Casey Anthony “not guilty”. As is often explained by those in the media, “not guilty” is not the same thing as “innocent”. But it has the same effect, doesn’t it? Casey Anthony will soon be free. She will not pay a penalty imposed by her peers or our judicial system for an offense most of us believe she committed.

In an effort to find solace in the face of this seeming injustice, I have heard variations of this statement: “Well, she may have escaped this judgment, but one day she’ll meet a Judge who won’t let her get away with it.” In fact, some people seem almost gleeful by this prospect.

That troubles me.

I do believe that one day Casey Anthony will meet the Lord. She, like all of us, will one day give an account of her life. But as disappointed as I am in the failure of our system to render justice (or at least, what I perceive to be justice), I cannot take pleasure in the thought that “one day, she’ll get hers”. Because no matter what she has done—no matter the extent of her guilt—she deserves hell no more than I do. I am as sin-ridden and guilt-stained as she is.

When we take pleasure in the thought that one day “sinners” will get what’s coming to them, we show a woeful lack of understanding about our sinfulness. We think that Charles Manson or Ted Bundy or Casey Anthony is somehow more deserving of eternal punishment than we would be.

I believe that when I stand before the True and Living Judge, I will be adjudicated “not guilty”. Not because I haven’t sinned—I surely have—but because Jesus Christ paid my sin debt already, and I have put my faith and trust in Him. I am no more worthy of God’s grace & mercy than anyone else. And Jesus shed His precious blood for Casey’s sins as sure as He shed His blood for mine.

Scripture teaches us that it is not God’s will that any would perish, but that everyone—including people who take innocent lives—would come to repentance. He doesn’t want Casey Anthony to spend eternity separated from Him any more than He wants to be separated from you.

Let us not take pleasure or comfort in the thought that one day she’ll get what she deserves. Instead pray that God would impress upon her heart the need for repentance and forgiveness. That’s what we mean by Amazing Grace!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Flag Still Waves

As we prepare to celebrate our nation's 235th birthday, I wanted to share a story with you.

Over the years, I've been privileged to preside at the funerals and memorial services for a number of military veterans. Such services are especially poignant, in my opinion, as we honor the lives of people who were willing to serve their country at great personal risk. Even though many of them lived for decades after their military service had ended, we remain indebted to them for their sacrifice.

One of the most meaningful moments of such services is when the flag which had draped the casket is folded with military precision and presented to the surviving members of the family. While that is a beautiful and touching ceremony, I sometimes wondered why the flag wasn't buried with the deceased. After all, it isn't uncommon to bury our loved ones with items of significance.

Well, recently I read a possible explanation for this. We don't bury the deceased with the flag, one person noted, because while the soldier has fallen, the flag still waves.

I don't know whether that definitively answers the question, but it's a good enough answer for me.

I am grateful for the men and women who give of themselves to keep us safe & free. And I am grateful that 235 years later, the flag still waves.