Welcome to our Wednesday “Ask Beau” post. The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide you, our readers, with biblical responses to questions you have about practical issues that you face.
On Tuesday the 5th, Chris B. asked me if I would comment on the Casey Anthony trial in light of some of the angry responses to Anthony’s acquittal. While I didn’t follow the story closely, I’m happy to suggest some thoughts on how Christians should react to this verdict.
As much as it may seem that Casey Anthony murdered her daughter Caylee, I do not think that we should say that the justice system failed in this case. Del Tackett, an insightful Christian thinker, argued this point better than I could in a post published on his blog last Thursday (thanks, Jim A.). Our legal system rightly has a high standard of proof in criminal cases, and, as Tackett notes, the Bible places a high value on the testimony of witnesses. Apparently there were no sufficiently clear witnesses in this case, whether human or physical.
We need to have realistic expectations about what human legal systems can accomplish. It’s helpful to think of a distinction that Chris B. made in his email: the distinction between God’s justice and man’s. God’s justice is perfect; man’s justice is imperfect. Human legal systems will never catch every criminal, nor can they, because we humans are limited in knowledge and inherently biased. God, on the other hand, is omniscient (1 John 3:20) and unbiased (Acts 10:34). Because He is completely good (1 John 1:5), He will not be mocked by evil, but will punish the guilty (Nahum 1:3), whether or not human legal systems are able to punish the guilty.
We also need to expect unfairness and not be surprised by it. Even if Casey Anthony didn’t murder Caylee, someone apparently did, and it’s just not fair that a little child should be treated as Caylee was. But as long as sin exists in this world, unfairness will exist. It is absolutely a good thing for us to seek fairness, but for us to demand fairness is neither realistic nor biblical.
We learn from Jesus Himself that our primary business as Christians is not to demand fairness, but to dispense love. If Jesus had demanded that He be treated fairly, no one would be able to spend eternity with God. Instead, Jesus endured unfairness in order to love people in the ultimate way (John 15:13). My suspicion is that if Christians were as adamant about loving people as we are about justice and fairness, the world would be very different.
I’m sure many of you followed the Casey Anthony trial. What are your thoughts on the trial, the verdict, or the reactions to the verdict?
—Beau StanleyFollow @beaustanley