eye for a (cat’s) eye

25 08 2010

The cat-in-wheelie-bin woman has caused quite a stir. She has been seized on by the tabloids as a way to sell papers; she has been seized on by angry people as a place to vent their anger. People have been gathering outside her house to demonstrate just how much they hate her; and in the modern way of armchair protesting a Facebook group has been set up against her so people can write nonsense which no-one will read.

Mob justice seems to be making something of a rebirth. People by-passing the law and taking justice into their own hands.  Humiliate her! Stone her! She has done a terrible thing – we must do a more terrible thing back! Because that will be justice!

It is to that kind of action that Yahweh gave the idea of  ‘an eye for an eye‘ – which seems odd to us but is actually a way of limiting retribution and mob justice to a ‘fair’ level. So if someone steals your donkey you do not kill them. You take their donkey. For example. It means that justice is measured, talked about, done as a community and not simply as family vs family like a never-ending episode of EastEnders.

However, Jesus has moved us on even further than that. He said this:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5)

This is a crazy way to live. This completely turns the tables on mob justice. It challenges our ideas of fairness, of justice, of strength and of weakness. It means that we do not steal the lady’s cat and put it in a bin; neither do we throw stones or words at her to her face or Facebook. Because love cannot do those things. Love can be angry, yes. But love channels anger. Love can seek justice, yes. But love does not seek mob justice. I don’t know about where you live, but here this cuts to the very heart of a culture of reactive justice, and it seems absolutely ridiculous. But it works. I have hope that it works.

Imagine if all this anger was channelled into positive community activism instead of vigilante justice. That would give me hope! And that would be the kingdom coming.


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12 responses

25 08 2010
Robbav

There’s lots of talk about “supernatural gifts” but I’m coming to the conclution that we need more basic “supernatural gifts” in order to live differently to anyone else. The supernatural gift of Grace towards others for example in this case wouldn’t go amiss. Unfortunately I don’t see so many Christians exercising that, so why should anyone else?
If we want to see transformation then it’s you and me mate who need to allow God to change us and give us these gifts so that we can be agents of the Kingdom coming and not just writing bloggs about it.

25 08 2010
Kevin

Exactly – i agree entirely. Because as wise man once said, I may speak in angelic tongues or prophesy, but without full-on proper sacrificial and grace-filled love, I am a clanging cymbal. See Paul’s blog for that, filed under 1 Corinthians 13. So I shall not write one.

25 08 2010
Fran

Bong

25 08 2010
c2drl

Mob “justice” seems to focus not on justice but on anger and retribution. Incfredibly God knew that and tells us a better way. That way isn’t to be soft on crime and the causes of crime but to show love to the perpetrator and the victim.

We probably need to go back to Solomon to get that perspective and it certainly needs God given gifts to work it out.

The victim needs justice, the potential victims need to be protected and the perpetrator needs help. Sometimes that help has to be just stopping him reoffending by imprisoning him, sometimes it can be by removing the causes of crime, e.g. poverty, drug addiction, illness, anger.

Chrustians in previous generations have tried to pick this up. Is the torch to be passed to us and if so, what shall we do?

Isn’t it interesting how the mob picks on certain things for justice. Harming a cat, but not drowning a squirrel. Paedophilia but not terrorism. Euthaenasia but not abortion. We really do need balanced law makers not mob rule.

25 08 2010
Bev Lloyd-Roberts

Hi Kevin,

What do you suggest should happen to the woman. I am a christian but also an animal lover. That little cat was doing no one any harm. I think we have a responsibility to protect animals from cruelty. I do not agree with mob justice and understand turning the other cheek when we are hurt but if the crime goes unpunished will it open the floodgates for copy cat crime. This woman at leasts needs help understanding what she did was wrong.

Bev

25 08 2010
Kevin

Hi Bev, that is a very good question. Thankfully we have delegated those responsibilities to the Police and RSPCA (for example) to decide, so that it is not up to me! I am sure she will receive some form of warning/fine as would someone for any animal cruelty. ‘Turning the other cheek’ is not a catch-all for leaving a crime unpunished, but is more about our attitude to perpetrators. So we should be angry, but channel that anger towards helping the RSPCA or local animal shelters rather than obstructing/interfering with the Police and their work. For what they are worth, they are my thoughts!

26 08 2010
Dai Adem

Sorry Kev that just won’t do. We haven’t delegated the matter to the RSPCA, we have abrogated our responsibility to a non elected body who aren’t accountable. The RSPCA seem only to be interested in prosecuting people, which they appear to be able to do with Police back-up. See recent discussion in the Daily Telegraph.

Turning the other cheek, as you rightly say is not a catch all for leaving crime unpunished but neither does it permit us to walk away from our responsibility as a society for what happens. We need to take back responsibility and that will mean asking people like Bev to go on questioning and to think things through so that we arrive at (imperfect but acceptable) solutions which society can then see are implimented.

27 08 2010
Kevin

I’m afraid I don’t really know enough about the RSPCA and how they operate, other than a naive trust that they know what they are talking about, something I’m not sure I would credit the Telegraph with…!

27 08 2010
Edge

I worry about Catwoman. She’s always dangerous. The mob quickly turned against Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry when they showed up in Gotham City wearing black leathers and weilding whips. Fortunately, Batman showed up sharpish and sorted everything out.
Catwoman = bad; Mob = mad; Batman = good!
I’m not sure who this knew Catwoman impersonator is. I’m not too concerned with what should happen to her (or her cat), if I’m honest.
What I really want to know though is where on earth has Bruce Wayne got to?

27 08 2010
Kevin

I think perhaps the lady was Bruce Wayne in cunning disguise, exacting revenge on Cat Woman for Halle Berry’s shocking film.

29 08 2010
Scott

I completely agree that the reaction may be unbalanced and mob rule is far from good. However it could show by the reaction (on the flip side of the coin) that people do care about justice and care for other species in God’s creation. These reactions could demonstrate that these – thankfully- are exceptions rather than the norm and this should make us feel satisfied and more able to sleep at night knowing that majority generally do care and keep a sense of morality, despite the tabloid headlines!

Unless you are a cat who likes to sleep next to a wheelie bin of course…

30 08 2010
Kevin

Excellent point well made. Seeing the good in these things is something we often miss. Most people are essentially good. Because god saw what he had made, and it was. Alledgedly.

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