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Ready for God's Law?

The secular world may be more ready for God's Law than we think.

According to the Law of God, it was occasionally permitted and necessary to beat a person for transgression (cf. Deut. 25.1-3).

This was only to be done in certain cases, it seems, when the demands of retributive justice - one of five forms of Biblical justice - could be satisfied in no other way. If a man could not repay what he had stolen, or if for some other reason he deserved to be beaten, then flogging was an acceptable way of repaying his debt and deterring him from future crimes.

This will sound barbaric to many readers, but it may surprise us to hear secular voices calling for the restoration of flogging as a means to a more just society.

Writing in the April 24, 2011, edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, former police officer and now university professor Peter Moskos decries the collapse of justice in America and deplores the system of criminal incarceration as a failure. His solution to sending petty criminals to prison, which are little more than schools for crime, is to restore flogging as an alternative to confinement.

Given the option of being flogged with two lashes for each year of sentencing, Mr. Moskos believes many would take the short-term pain - and remember it - rather than the longer-term disruption of life which imprisonment entails. In his forthcoming book, In Defense of Flogging, Mr. Moskos promises to argue his point more fully.

Mr. Moskos writes, "Some time in the past few decades we've lost the concept of justice in a free society." He firmly believes that the flogging option would be a step in the direction of restoring justice to America.

I find it interesting that a secular voice would call for a return to Biblical Law as a way to restore justice to American society. Mr. Moskos' proposal could be seen as confirming two important Biblical principles: First, that the Law of God encodes true justice, if only we would adhere to it; and second, that the works of the Law surely do seem to be written on the heart of every person.

Whether or not  flogging is a good idea, or even a correct interpretation of God's Law in this age of grace, is not the point. The point is that the unbelieving world is becoming desperate for answers to many pressing moral and social concerns. And it may be that thoughtful unbelievers are more open than we think to reconsidering Biblical teaching in a wide range of areas.

And if this is true of the area of justice, for example, then surely it will also be true of righteousness and how we may attain it.

Which should encourage us to greater boldness in our witness for Christ and our public stance on the reliability of Scripture.

Additional related texts: Romans 2.14, 15; Romans 7.12; Leviticus 18.1-5

A conversation starter: "Do you think it's possible that the Law of God might be a source to look to for returning justice to our society?"

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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