Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Marriage and Capital Punishment

Based on excellent comments on my "Prayer Chain" post I was going to blog today about gossip in more detail but my day was taken up with life stuff and sadly I have run out of time. Since I want to give it careful thought I am going to delay it a day or two. In the meantime, I will relate a story:

The other day we were over at a surprise party for my friend Jake who has recently graduated from University and is now a teacher (Jake if you're reading this well done!). While there we were hanging out with a couple of other couples. We were joking around about stuff and one of the couples related about how she couldn't talk with her husband about a certain issue without getting totally enraged with him. The thorny topic? The issue was free will (Arminianism) vs predestination (Calvinism). Apparently when they had been dating at college the professor asked them to both stand up and debate the issue against each other (they were dating at the time) and she totally got exasperated with him (she felt quite strongly on the issue and he knew this and pressed her buttons). Amazingly they got married but apparently that one topic (free will vs predestination) is one of the few topics that they can't talk about as a couple. We all laughed and thought this was quite funny.

The truth is is that in even the best marriages there are occasionally topics of opinion that cannot for some reason be spoken about without serious discord coming up. I'm not talking serious stuff like sex, communication, in-laws, etc. I'm talking opinions; like say theology, politics, or people's acting abilities. One day during our first year of marriage I discovered one of these areas. I forget how the topic came up but I made some reference to capital punishment to Jobina. Suddenly she got very tense. "What do you think about it?" she asked me in a tone that should have warned me bad things were coming my way. I proceeded to describe all the reasons why I thought capital punishment was sometimes justifiable (and Biblical!). As I talked on and on Jobina got more and more mad. Finally she boiled over and was almost shouting at me! I can't remember exactly what she said but it was something like this: "I can't believe that you think capital punishment is OK! What's wrong with you, aren't you a Christian? I never should have married you!"

Keep in mind that I have switched my view on this topic several times and am open to different views but that Jobina and I had never discussed it before. For some reason "capital punishment" had never made it into our dating conversations. So now suddenly I had a very angry woman on my hands who thought I was evil and was questioning whether or not she ought to be married to me! Eventually after much discussion she calmed down a little but still stared at me like I was the devil. I don't think we've ever had the conversation about capital punishment again - I'm too scared! We can discuss pretty much anything else - but not capital punishment. I won't betray my current views on the topic - that would spoil the fun - but I'm pretty sure that Jobina prayed for me much after the initial conversation! Luckily, I can always use more prayers. . .

May Light increase!

9 comments:

Jobina said...

"I can't believe that you think capital punishment is OK! What's wrong with you, aren't you a Christian? I never should have married you!"
That is NOT what I said! Honestly, you can't quote someone verbetum after 10 years unless you wrote it down way back then! The only sentence I distinctly remember is "I can't believe I married someone who believes in Capital Punishment!" I did I did question your Christianity though. Nasty, nasty subject. Maybe we need counseling??!!

Michele said...

Hmmmm, a lovers quarrel on blog? Interesting...

John and I have many topics like that. We have agreed to disagree at this point and we simply don't talk about them. People are going to have different views on things. I'm not a debater, my defenses go up too fast so if someone thinks differently than me I really have two choices. I can get mad and try and bully them into thinking as I do or I can let it go. At this point, I choose to let it go.

Stacey said...

hehe Seriously I find much amusement from you two when you start these "blog comment back and forths"! It's so.... 'today' lol

I have opinions but I'll keep my mouth shut on this one. I believe in pleading the 5th :)

Rayna said...

With your post title I thought you were going to talk about the whole "ball and chain" thing and am glad that it was this instead.
Ah, I think that most every couple who has opinions for themselves will have some issues that they don't bring up. And I think that's OK, even good - means that each person still has their own opinions and personalities and can challenge each other.
Michael and I have some of these as well, but I cannot recall them off the top of my head.
I think in one of our classes at school we discussed capital punishment and the reasons for/against. I don't want to get into it here, but sorry Jobina, I do agree with it as well. In certain circumstances. I think it would serve to deter many people if there were harsher punishments for certain crimes. OK, now I'm getting into it. Bye.

Anonymous said...

As humans we're going to make errors in judging who dies and who lives. How many "mistakes" are the pro-capital punishment people willing to allow in order to have capital punishment? There are numerous-100's actually-cases where people have been on death row for years before they've been proven innocent,not by the system that condemned them in the first place but by anti-capital punishment crusaders. Terry

Mark said...

Oh Terry, Terry. I did not really want to get into this topic, but you have tempted me into it!

I agree that it's very problematic to judge who is and who is not guilty of crimes deserving death. It's a good argument against capital punishment: how can we condemn anyone to death if they may be innocent? Executing an innocent man is as bad as whatever sin someone committed that deserved a death penalty.

This position does have it's weakness though. This is essentially arguing against it for reasons of carrying it out justly, not about whether capital punishment is of itself wrong. Yes, innocent people are executed. Think of it in a church discipline context: churches continually mess up church discipline (and thus condemn and wound their members) and so some people say that we just shouldn't do it - because of the difficulty of carrying it out. Yet I would argue that it indeed necessary in many instances whether it's done well or not it needs to be attempted. Just because it's difficult to do right doesn't negate that it may be necessary.

The question in my mind is does the Bible condemn it or does it uphold it? It's kind of a thorny issue (like slavery, etc) because there are many instances of it, it's commanded in the Old Testament, and it appears to be assumed in the New Testament. It is expected that government will carry the sword and that that sword was given it for a reason. Yet the Bible doesn't explicitly command it (or against it). This is not to say that we can't have a progressive ethic, one that realizes that though capital punishment may be "acceptable" that it is not the best choice.

Currently my position is somewhere in the middle. I can't say it's always wrong (not enough evidence) and yet I can't say I'm comfortable with saying that we should be doing it today. I find most people (like my wife) are passionate about it, but I feel humble when approaching the topic because I don't think Scripture is clear on it (and that there is a reason behind that I'm unclear about!). Anyway, there's my two cents . . .

Lindsay said...

Funny. Such a true observation about marriage.

And I'm with Jobina on this one :)

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