Friday, April 11, 2008

Teenager Beating

Eight teenagers beat sixteen-year-old.

That's the big thing on YouTube.  It's bad.  Eight teenagers invited a girl to a house -- apparently, she thought one of them was a friend -- and then they beat her mercilessly, even waiting for her to regain consciousness so they could pick up where they left off.  Stupidly, they videotaped their crime and posted it on YouTube.

What was that about?

Well, you could call it attempted murder, and maybe it is.  You could say the perpetrators should be tried as adults, and maybe they should.

But what can the church say about it?  And what would Jesus say about it?  

I don't think anyone needs to make excuses for the kids who did this terrible thing.  They did it.  They planned it.  They had evil intent, and they should indeed be punished appropriately.

But, do we believe we should kill them?  Or, as Philip DeFranco advised on the The Philip DeFranco Show (on YouTube), put them in a room with a hundred angry people with baseball bats and have them beat the bejeezus out of them as they did to her?  

Oh, you can say they deserve it.  But here's the problem.  Jesus doesn't allow for that kind of revenge.  Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek."  Not once, not twice, but over and over.  Paul tells us to bless those who curse us, pray for those who hurt us.  It simply is not open to a Christian to "get even."  

Regardless of what DeFranco says, "An eye for an eye," is NOT acceptable behavior for Christians at least.  He scoffs at Ghandi's notion that "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."  Regardless of his rant, all it really does is make us pretty much the same as those who commit the crimes in the first place.  For those who say, "They deserve it," what makes you so sure YOU don't deserve it?  After all, Jesus says those who retain anger against another are liable the punishment of murderers (Matthew 5:21-22).

When we get our righteous indignation going, we make ourselves foolish.  Beating these criminals up will not "teach them a lesson."  It will neither make an example of them nor make the world a safer place.  It will not make us more virtuous, and it will not erase the scars that the unfortunate victim will carry for the rest of her life.  All it will do is satisfy our blood lust.  Which is what those criminals were doing.

So, what do we do with such savage criminals?  Well, in our society, about the best you can manage is prison -- which is a given in their case.  Keep them away from everyone else and be done with it.  Probably, however, all prison will do is turn them into more efficient criminals.  But that's a story for another day.