Q & R: a question about justice
Here''s the Q:
Dear Brian, you have written "Any definition of justice and holiness that involves being unsatisfied unless the imperfect are suffering seems to many of us as unworthy of a human being and if so, how much more unworthy of God whose justice must be better than our own." Should Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson ( Matthew Shepard's murderers) be set free and welcomed back into society?
Here's the R:
I'm not sure how to interpret the tone - or the purpose - of your question. If you're asking whether it's possible for a wrongdoer to be incarcerated to protect others from harm, without intending malice or revenge toward the wrongdoer, I would say yes, it's possible, but terribly difficult and rare. That's why we have created court systems and juries ... so that the community seeks to carry out justice in relation to law and the common good, not as an act of malice or revenge.The primary goals of incarceration, in an ideal world, I think, would be a) to keep a habitually destructive person from wreaking more havoc, b) to rehabilitate the destructive person whenever possible, and c) to provide clear and predictable consequences for unacceptable behavior. Some crimes impress us as being so serious and heinous that we think b) is impossible, so we default to a) with a sentence of life in prison without parole.
I'm sorry, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about the McKinney and Henderson cases to render an opinion.
I wonder, though, if your question is aimed more at the context from which that statement came, which, if I recall correctly, was about God not being able to rest unless any and all imperfections that God has chosen not to forgive are being punished with eternal conscious torment. Fortunately, no human has that capacity for infinite punishment, and fortunately, God is more gracious than human beings. At least, that's how I understand God. And that's why I trust God ... I hope that helps!