Law and Order continued....
Retribution is concerned with the balance of justice. The
word comes from the Latin retribuo which means 'to pay back'. Society shows its
values through its laws, and the breaking of them is regarded as an anti-social
act. Its displeasure is therefore shown in a form of censure, fine, reprimand
or a custodial sentence.
The retribution principle reflects Divine law, because God
punishes sinners. In the book of Genesis Noah was
virtually appointed a prime minister and his portfolio (authorised by God)
included the administration of justice, and in the cases of murder, capital
punishment was mandatory. Where an offender shed innocent blood, his blood was
to be forfeited. That was retribuo - a paying back. It was a form of atonement.
The Bible lays great stress on the dignity of the person,
and warns against those who affront that dignity. We should not curse our
fellow men because they are 'made after the similitude of God'Jesus also
severely reprimanded child-abusers, saying that it were better for them 'that a
millstone be put around their neck and thrown into the sea'.This obviously
implied that such serious offences demanded capital punishment.
Murder is really the ultimate crime because it virtually
'undoes' the work of the Creator by brutally bringing a life to an end which
was given by God. It is something like (but far more serious) a vandal who
slashes an artist's masterpiece painting.
Retribution may at first seem primitive and vengeful, but it
must have a place in the philosophy of law and order. At no times must it be
unfair. Israel's laws on this were scrupulously fair. In the first instance the
verdict could only be arrived at where there were two or three witnesses and when it came to corporal punishment the number of
lashes were strictly controlled.
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