Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On the taking of life

Last summer, Anna Quindlen wrote an editorial for Newsweek regarding the death penalty ("The Failed Experiment," June 24, 2006). She began with the following:
You brush up against a lot of weird stuff in the course of child rearing, but one phenomenon that always had me scratching my head was the parents who hit their kids to teach them that hitting was a bad thing.

At the time, the Supreme Court was hearing an argument regarding whether death by lethal injection was painful or not. As she argues, that's really not the main point. I thought of this article as I saw the many news stories appearing after Saddam Hussein's execution regarding his "undignified" treatment by guards. Tell me, why is it not okay to insult someone if it's okay to kill them?? I'm scratching my head here.

Recently Gordon discovered a "homesteading school" in Texas that offers classes in cheesemaking, blacksmithing, beekeeping, sewing, pottery, and all kinds of interesting things. We briefly considered the logistics - hey, we could spend a couple months in Texas, maybe even work there for a year and take these exciting classes! But then I remembered why I don't want to live in Texas. How could I in good conscience pay taxes to a state that uses them to kill people? Most Christians believe the Bible teaches to pay one's taxes and pray for one's government. So does it matter what what the government does with tax money? Are we responsible for their actions? Some choose not to pay taxes for this reason, whether by illegally reporting or by living below the poverty line. (If this was my goal, the latter seems a better option!) I'm still mulling this over, so don't look for a definite answer on my position yet. In the past I have paid taxes, I have prayed for the government, and I have also pleaded for forgiveness for the sins of my nation.... instinctually I would rather have nothing to do with it. We are called to be a separate people, to live apart, to consider ourselves only citizens of God's kingdom. That's tricky when traveling abroad, and I have to wonder if it was easier in the days before passports. :-) But no matter where we are, we must carefully consider if our choices are honoring God or conforming to society.

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