This image chapped a few butts last night...and brought out some unbelievable rage.
I have to confess, I didn’t keep up with the Casey Anthony trial at all. Not a bit. I knew it was going on, but the details of the proceedings were lost on me. So when I sat down at my computer last night, it took me a minute to figure out what in the world had happened. My Facebook news feed, normally a nice little collection of inanity, was suddenly a vituperative group teeth gnash. Some of the comments from last night:
“God will judge this evil woman! She may have escaped justice here, but she won’t in the next life!”
“I can’t believe the jury was that stupid! She was clearly guilty. It’s like OJ all over again!”
“Here’s hoping this slut gets the crap beat out of her in jail tonight.”
“Thank God there’s a hell, because that’s where this woman belongs, and even that may not be good enough.”
At first, I thought they were talking about Ann Coulter and her latest comments. Then I realized the verdict had come in, and that a jury of our peers had decided Casey Anthony was only guilty of lying to the police. Granted, that’s four counts of lying to the police and obstructing the investigation, but still – it wasn’t what a lot of folks expected.
And it certainly wasn’t what a lot of folks wanted. If the public had gotten its way, they jury would’ve disemboweled Casey on the courthouse steps with dull safety scissors, lit her body on fire, and danced like pagans around the pyre.
Pesky 4th Amendment.
I was horrified by what happened to Caylee Anthony, and I don’t mean just her murder. I have a five year-old daughter and two year-old son, and if they disappear from my sight for more than thirteen nanoseconds my heart begins to seize. The idea that they could be missing for a month while I was off partying and entering myself into “hot body” contests (none of which I would win) is so ridiculous as to be unimaginable. It’s offensive to me as a parent, a Christian, and a human being.
But just because Casey Anthony might be one of the all-time skeeziest parents and human beings (both of which terms I use loosely) doesn’t mean that she deserves all the rage that’s been lobbed at her. It deserves to be shared with the sleazy defense team, the overconfident prosecutors, the jury, and the national obsession with cases like this that build our collective rage to impossible-to-satisfy heights and inevitably leave us screaming for justice to be done.
Oh – and lastly, the rage should come our way too. We, the viewing public.
I’m not gonna get up on a moral high horse and tell you how awful you are for following the trial and being upset by the verdict, mainly because I found myself raging over OJ sixteen years ago. I understand the rage, and I know that it needs an outlet. But the fact that such rage exists within us as a collective people is profoundly disturbing, and what elevates the issue for me is the number of Christian people who took to the keyboards to vent their displeasure at it all.
I can understand how people who don’t believe in an omnipotent, omniscient God could be PO’d that Casey got away seemingly scot-free. In their world, the only justice is what we as human beings make, and when we miscarry justice, there’s only ourselves to blame. There’s no corrective and that leads to anger, not just at the fact we failed but also at the fact that there’s nothing we can do to make this situation right. It’s a helplessness that raises troubling questions about existence and humanity, which only leads to further anger and rage at the futility of it all.
But as Christians, we shouldn’t be prey to this line of thinking. For us, we believe that there is a God who not only knows all, but sees all, and will one day make things right. We believe that this cosmic address of grievances will include the punishment of those who have done wrong in Hell. So there should be no rage at this verdict, no anger that fallen human beings did what fallen human beings do: make mistakes. We should look at this situation differently than others do, and we should be turning off the rage, or at the very least putting it within its proper context – God will judge.
Now, I can hear some of you already, “Jason, that’s exactly what I put on Facebook last night. God will judge. And this heifer will get what she deserves.”
Yes, but God will judge means that God alone will judge. It will be up to Him to decide on Casey Anthony’s life against His standard. What many of our brothers and sisters were doing last night is deciding on Casey Anthony’s life against their own standard, and that’s not what we’re supposed t0 do. If God is truly great, and truly will judge, then why should we be pushing our judgment onto Him? Shouldn’t we sit back, shake our heads, and say, “Lord, have mercy”?
Instead, many of us want our judgment to be given divine approval – we want the lightning to strike quick and hot and without any hint of mercy, and in so doing we forget the very reason we even have these strange convictions as a Christian: that, once upon a time, this same God we so anxiously want to judge Casey as guilty, judged us as righteous because of the grace of His Son. Because we’ve been pardoned by Christ and made square with God, we now sit back and declare others as unworthy?
I think Jesus had a few words about that. So did the Apostle Paul.
Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be troubled by the verdict. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be disappointed that our justice system seems to fail at all the wrong times. What I am saying is that there seems to be a malicious anger within the American church that overrides the grace of God with the rage of the redeemed. And it’s polluting the message we’re supposed to be sharing. Namely, that we all deserve to be punished for who we are and what we’ve done – you, me, and Casey Anthony alike. But God is forgiving and gracious and kind, and He has made a way for us to be counted as righteous through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Only Son, Jesus Christ.
To spend our time telling the world anything else is something we’ll have to answer for ourselves – when we stand before God to give an account for how we lived beneath His grace.
Because, after all – God will judge everyone. Not just the ones we want Him to.