The brokenhearted sinner

The Bible says if you strike someone and they die, you have committed homicide: “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death” (Exodus 21:12, ESV).

If you hit somebody, and they die, it’s not an accident. The next verse gives provisions for accidental manslaughter. But the implication in verse 12 is if you hit someone and they die, even if you didn’t mean to kill them, it’s still murder.

The “eye for an eye” in verse 24 of the same chapter, which Jesus made famous in the Sermon on the Mount, is not about payback and revenge, but about justice and equity. For example, if someone spits on your shoe, he does not get the death penalty. It is not meant to be taken literally, but is an analogy which speaks of the appropriate fine (verse 22). If he steals your sheep, he owes you the price of the sheep; he probably doesn’t have any sheep of his own with which to give you a sheep back, but he will have to work with his hands to earn the money to pay you for what he took. If he takes your eye out, it does not mean a surgeon removes his eye; rather, if you’re his slave, he lets you go free, because your eye is at least worth your freedom. (This is in contrast to the cruel and unjust moslem laws which require that thieves have their hands amputated.) I am not advocating theonomy, and I’m certainly not advocating the death penalty if you punch your dad in the gut. But “eye for eye” is a good principle of justice that governments would do well to consider.

Back to my point about verse 12. The Schatz case is not the first death associated with the child-training techniques of Michael and Debi Pearl. There have been other cases, such as the 2006 case of Sean Paddock, whose mother pleaded not guilty because it was routine abuse. She was found guilty and then the case went to appeals last month. Even though a jury of her peers examined all the evidence and told her she was guilty, she still didn’t believe them.

What breaks my heart is that someone whose child died at their own hand would not just be completely broken and confess and spend their time and effort pleading for the court’s mercy rather than claiming innocence. There is no reason to claim in such cases that you are a good parent. You made a mistake. Obviously the Pearls were wrong when they said 1/4″ plumbing supply line wouldn’t leave a mark or damage tissue. Obviously the writer of the proverb who said your child won’t die from “using the rod” must have meant something else…

I know it’s a hard place to be, but wouldn’t you be breaking the Ninth Commandment to say, “Not guilty”, to a judge when he asks you, “How do you plead?” I admit that I am not a lawyer, and I know the definition of homicide in section 187 of the state penal code is somewhat different from the one in Exodus 21, as some sort of “malice” (in the legal sense) seems to be required. And I also know that Lynn Paddock’s crime was committed in North Carolina which probably has a different definition as well. By my thing is—why is it so hard for these “Christians” to admit their fault?

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Rom. 7:14-25, ESV)

The great apostle Paul, who admitted in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he was the worst of sinners, advocates humility regarding victory over sin. “Nothing good dwells in … my flesh.” Our serving of God can only be done in our minds, in a spiritual sense, because the carnal soul is still serving sin. When we mess up, we need to be the first to admit our imperfections. We are sons of Adam, and despite all our objections, if it were us as the federal head of the human race in the garden, we would not have done any better.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17, ESV)

Pray for the Schatzes. Pray for their attorneys, judges, jury, and D.A. Michael Ramsey. Pray for the children. And pray for yourself.


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