I have a ridiculous sense of right and wrong. By that I mean that wrongs outrage me. Especially when they go unpunished or, worse, are accepted as the norm. I look at all the horrible things we do to each other, the awful things we are the victims of, and the rage swells. My sense of justice has no gray areas. Because of that, I am drawn to Hamurabi and his code.
Hamurabi’s Code holds very little patience for wrongdoers. Almost everything ends in death. If you accuse somebody and can’t prove it, you die. If you steal from somebody and it can be proven, you die. If you commit perjury, you die. If you kidnap a child, you die. If you cheat on your spouse, you die. The list is long of the things that will get you killed. There are a few, though not many, over which you can pay a fine and move on as if it never happened. My over-developed sense of justice loves this.
The not-so-quiet voice in my head roars that this is right. If you harm someone or steal their property, you should be punished in the same violent fashion that you victimized. No mercy. Not from me. You’re talking to the woman whose heart says that certain kinds of criminals should go to the electric chair and not be given the luxury of a wet sponge to ease the flow of the current. They inflicted suffering; their last moments should be filled with it. Right?
Hamurabi’s Code is strikingly similar to God’s law. Under God’s law, if you do wrong, you die. There isn’t a list of things that we can just pay a fine and then we can dance away from it. All of it, even that which we see as the slightest offense, is wrong and is therefore punishable by death.
But there’s a clause that saves us.
“For God so loved the world…”
It’s arguably the best known verse in the Bible. His justice is not tempered by his love, nor is his grace tempered by his justice. One creates a situation where we are convicted of our crimes. The other relieves us from ultimate judgment. Because of that, I can honestly say to those who heinously harmed me, “I forgive you”, and truly mean it.
Hamurabi had it right. Mostly. He had no grace.
So what do I prefer—living under an unyielding code, or under grace? Amazing how it all comes down to such a simple choice.
And suddenly the demand for justice doesn’t seem quite so appealing.
Kelly Heuer resides in Idaho and asserts that she is foremost a wife to her best friend and hero. Five children (plus a few extras) call her Mami, and she considers being a wife and mother to be her most important job and ministry. She is her church’s Music/AV Coordinator and serves as a song leader among other roles as needed. A missionary kid, Kelly lived in the Dominican Republic for 14 years learning to read and translate legal documents in both Spanish and English. She says one of the most important revelations of her time there was learning the value of writing in alleviating the pain of both internal and external struggles. She says while others might describe her as a survivor, she calls herself a fighter, a thriver, a winner. Kelly’s heart is to help women worldwide to go beyond survival and be freed to never again fear enslavement.
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