"But Canada doesn't have the death penalty. It's not our problem." Political boundaries aside, human life is worth far more than the 49th parallel. What happened moments ago was a sick and twisted example of the sin that permeates both the United States and Canadian systems. Troy Davis was an innocent man, yet innocence nothwithstanding, the choice to take life as a punishment for a crime is idolatrous.
Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove writes: "The problem with the death penalty… was that it forced us as citizens to participate in idolatry. We wanted people to know that Jesus died once and for all so that no one else would have to. More than anything, we didn't want to participate in the idolatry any longer." (The Power to Choose Life, Huffington Post). Even pro-death penalty advocates were crying out for this man's life to be spared.
With the empassioned race to save Davis' life, I've been asked: "What if this was a human trafficker? What if this was the most notorious pimp on the face of the earth who raped, abused, murdered and degraded men, women and children for most of his life? What if it was someone like him on death row, where he deserves to die?"
I won't lie.
I want slave traders and those who commit crime brought to justice.
However, killing is not justice. It is using murder to justify our anger and bloodlust.
Never mind that the death penalty system in America seems to target minorities and people of colour.
Never mind that the death penalty rarely works a crime deterrent.
Never mind that "average Joes and Janes" of the West refuse to acknowledge corruption in our systems, thus letting the oppressed and weak lose it all so the powerful can remain just so.
Perhaps this is cheesy, but have at me… it's appropriate on a night like this. Do you recall a slave trader during the 1800's who chained and shackled beautiful African peoples and transported them as cargo across the ocean to the Americas and Britain? He was white… well-off… and blinded by greed and lies.
But then he saw.
It took a near-death experience on the high seas to see into the eyes of Jesus Christ, but not death itself. And then the amazing grace of our Lord, more potent than any lethal injection, pierced into his soul and confronted him with his crimes.
My human side would have seen that man hanged. The new creation in me sees the cruelty and wickedness in the taking of another life, and the infinite ways our Lord, Saviour, King, and Sovereign God uses to break through the deepest of crimes. His life spared, he went on to sing with another voice — one that began a long chain of events that still has links being forged today.
So there's my honest truth: the old me would want justice in the form of death for traders. Yet if I were to demand that, I would also have to Biblically choose death for myself. Sin knows no hierachy, even though we create such petty systems. But I, and many others, choose a better Way. We choose a narrow Way. We choose THE Way… and He has died once for all.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I'm found
… but now I see