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Saturday, November 8, 2014

A note about 'an eye for an eye'

In Matthew 5:38ff, it is recorded that Christ says, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also ..."

Many today incorrectly believe -- even as Marcion incorrectly taught 1900 years ago -- that this indicates some some sort of tension, in fact a conflict and contradiction, between "the God of the OT" and "the God of the NT". And from that error, unless they correct it, they eventually falsely conclude, as Marcion did, that "the God of the OT" and "the God of the NT" are not the same person and from there that "the God of the OT" is actually demonic -- despite that the NT many times explicity makes clear that Christ Jesus *is* Jehovah/Elohim.

Now, notice what Jesus said about this; notice *how* he said it: "You have heard that it was said ..."

But, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" is not just *said*, it is *written* in the Law of Moses. So, what's going on, what does this mean?

Douglas Wilson explains: Scissors and Library Paste
First, look at how Boyd sets two portions of Scripture at odds with one another, and consider how unnecessary that capitulation is. In ancient times, private vengeance was mediated through the system of the blood avenger. The Mosaic code placed restrictions on this system by establishing cities of refuge. The old system was further restricted by the “eye for eye” code, by the lex talionis. When vengeance was in private hands, it frequently became a life for an eye, a life for a tooth. So the magistrate was required to execute strict justice in judgment himself, and this would remove a great deal of the emotional motivations for private vengeance. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11).

Got that? Eye for eye was required of the magistrate. In the Lord’s day, that phrase was being used to justify private vengenace - in much the same way that someone today might use it. “He hit me so I hit him, Eye for eye.” The Lord was plainly correcting an abusive interpretation of Moses. He was not correcting Moses himself.

As Wilson quippingly quotes (I suspect he's quoting CS Lewis), "He who says A may not have said B, but give him time." The point being, as Wilson titled that little post, "The logic will out". That is, human beings, even when they are willfully choosing to be irrational and illogical, are still rational beings, and ultimately will always arrive at and embrace the logical working-out of the premises they have chosen.

My point here is that those who refuse to be corrected on the matter of this (false) contradiction between "the God of the OT" and "the God of the NT", and likewise those who refuse to understand that Matthew 5:38ff is not about telling the magistrate to "forgive" the offender, must *always* end up perverting both Justice and Mercy.

The "Mercitarians", as we may call them, falsely imagine that there can be be Mercy without Justice -- much as the worshippers of self-esteem falsely image that "everyone is a winner" -- and so they have set themselves up as the dispensers of mercy-without-justice, preventing justice ever being done ... so long as the initial injustice was not against their own interests, of course. These days, they have so committed to the logic of their false premises, they are so far into this inversion of justice and mercy, that they freak out when someone has the temerity to mention that the wrong-doer is, in fact, a wrong-doer.

But here's the thing: only he against whom the injustice was done has the power to forgive the wrong-doer: only the *wronged* can give mercy to the *wrong-doer*, and mercy can but follow justice. That is, mercy cannot be extended unless there is first judgment and condemnation.

To put it another way: *I* do not have the moral standing to forgive John for mugging you. But, this is what "liberals" arrogate to themselves the power and right to do; and in doing so, prevent and pervert justice, to the ultimate undoing of civil society.

The Old Testament's commandment of lex talionis was given in a social environment in which there was no magistrate passing judgment and imposing condemnation, in which the only justice a wronged person could hope to get was that which he and his clan managed to impose upon the wrong-doer ... and his clan. Such an arrangement quickly leads to endless vendetta and blood-fued, in which the "penalty" for knocking out someone's tooth is to take his life ... or the life of his brother.

The Old Testament's commandment of lex talionis was given to *stop* this run-away perversion of Justice.

The "Mercitarians" are simply perverting Justice in the other direction -- and the end-result is, and must be, a social environment in which there is no magistrate passing judgment and imposing condemnation.

In setting their perverted "mercy" above real justice, preventing the victims of injustice getting justice -- and using the magistrate's sword to impose this perversion upon society -- the "Mercitarians" are merely working to undo the moral progress that the lex talionis is.

Unless our society rejects the false gospel of the "Mercitarians", and returns to passing just judgment and imposing just condemnation, we will, and *must*, become a dysfunctional society in which the horrible injustice of vendetta and blood-feud is the only means available for a wronged person to attempt to get justice.