Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lex Talionis

I just watched a pretty good movie called: Lucky Number Slevin. It’s the story about a guy who, when he was a boy, lost his mother and father. His dad was a bad gambler always looking for the next winner. He played the horses one time too many and bet $20,000 with mobsters and he lost. He had inside info on a particular horse and something happened and the horse lost. The bad guys came to his house and killed his wife, tortured and killed him. And, even the bad guys couldn’t kill the little boy who looked to be about eight years old. They called in a professional assasin.

The assasin could do it either. He tried but couldn’t do it. So, he took the boy and raised him in his ways. Now, you don’t find out until nearly the end that that’s who this guy is. But, he goes after the bad guys who killed his family, with the help of his keeper. He killed the bad guys and more. He lived his whole life waiting on the time when he would take revenge on these bad guys.

It’s the way of the world, isn’t it. Someone does you wrong; you have a right to get them back. Lex Talionis is the law: A eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. When the Jews came to this law it was a step forward from the blood shed of their day. It meant only one eye for one eye and nor more. It meant only one tooth for one tooth and not more.

Most of us are happy with the revenge idea. The bad guys should just get what’s coming to them. Then, Jesus comes along and ruins it. Doesn’t he do that often? He says: “Love your enemies. Do good to them that hurt you...”. Let the bloodshed stop with you. It has to stop somewhere.

I’m praying about and thinking my way through the awful stuff that has come out of the Catholic Church lately. I’m listening to the demands for justice. I’m sure there is some need to see revenge and you can understand it. I can understand it. Hurt like that, sexual, done by the church’s pastors is difficult to get over.

I have counseling some who have been sexually abused as children, not by priests, but by a parents or someone close. I can tell you that this grave sin damages a person for life. Add God and priests to the mix and you get a real mess, a life that is nearly destroyed before it gets started. I say that justice is the last that we can expect from the church.

What would justice look like? Right now, the statute of limitations covers such acts as far as the law goes, but shouldn’t the church dismiss all those who had any part is this sin. Give them a church trial and take their right to practice as the church’s representative. Acknowlege publicly what has been done; confess the sins. As often happens the coverup becomes as evil as the sin.

I don’t think these dear souls are looking for revenge. They want justice which would be a form of mercy for the victims. The greatest sin of all is to pretend that these sins didn’t happen.

Revenge is wrong but justice is only right. I pray for all those who are working through this. May God forgive those who hurt and maimed in his name.

Dave Nichols


Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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