“There is no liberty without law (Lev. 25:10), and God’s law is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25).” -Tim Brown
Comedian Bill Engvall‘s famous line for people that say stupid things is “Here’s your sign.” Well, there are some seriously stupid things people say when you bring up Biblical law in society.
Some members of the American public, and sadly many in the professed Christian Church, don’t have a clue when it comes to how Biblical Law would be implemented in society, even though at America’s initial founding it was. In fact, in most cases, when someone calls for such implementation, they are summarily referred to as the Christian version of the Taliban. Nothing could be further from the truth. And so, as a result of a recent article on Sharia concerning stealing, I thought this one instance would be a great way to compare how Sharia doesn’t compare to Biblical law.
First, consider that America’s laws used to be based on Biblical law. I have provided the history on how sodomy was dealt with in our history in the states in a previous article, which you can read here. The Bible has been abandoned by America for law and so she has turned to humanistic thinking for determining law and justice. Now, she is facing pressure to cave to foreign law, specifically Sharia, in many parts of the country. Thankfully, many are standing against Sharia.
So, the contrast I want to show here is what Biblical law is not and I’m going to use the illustration of contributor Walid Shoebat, whose recent article complete with pictures, demonstrates how Islamists deal with thieves. To put it bluntly, they hack the man’s hand off… with a meat cleaver.
Of course, they “deadened” the man’s hand, blindfolded him and held him down before they did it right out in the open. But the point is that they are instructed under Sharia to do this very thing as justice. But is it just? Most of us would respond with a resounding “No.”
I can tell you why it is unjust, but my basis is biblical. By cutting off the man’s hand, it still leaves the person he stole from without any restoration of what was stolen. Second, it leaves the man without hand, in which he will not be able to work properly, which should be what he is pushed towards. First and foremost, that work should be to restore what was taken.
Now, consider American “justice.” In our justice system, you can find a plethora of punishments depending on the value of what was stolen. You can find anything from a few days in jail to a lifetime in jail, even community service, which is never rendered to the victim of the crime. Is that just? Well, think about it. We talk about people “paying their debt to society.” However, society did not have a crime committed against it. A person or persons were the victims.
So, under American justice, the victims never find justice. In fact, they are treated unjustly. How is that, you ask? Well, consider that those who had their possessions or money stolen are then forced to pay taxes partially for the upkeep of the person (shelter, clothing, food, cable tv, internet and other amenities in jail) that stole from them. In fact, it’s even worse than that. Many of these taxes are levied against their property, so if they don’t pay property taxes (something that is clearly unbiblical), their property can be taken and they will face charges and could go to jail as well. Does any of that sound just to you?
I would like to put forward that there are rare exceptions I have read about where a judge did impose restitution. However, that is usually not what takes place.
So, what does the Bible put forward as justice against theft? Of course, most of us understand the command, “You shall not steal,” but what happened if you did?
Well, there are many different issues regarding stealing, but let’s deal with at least one for this article.
In Exodus 22 we read:
When a man steals an ox or a sheep and butchers it or sells it, he must repay five cattle for the ox or four sheep for the sheep. If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed. But if this happens after sunrise, there is guilt of bloodshed. A thief must make full restitution. If he is unable, he is to be sold because of his theft. If what was stolen—whether ox, donkey, or sheep—is actually found alive in his possession, he must repay double.
Now, let’s be clear on a few things, so that this is not drawn out, but that we get the sense of what happens.
- If one is a thief and steals something, in this case an ox or a sheep that he has slaughtered, then he must provide to the one he stole from restitution in the form of more than he stole.
- If that animal is found alive, he restored it double to the person he stole from.
- If a thief has broken into someone’s home during the commission of his thievery and is killed in the process, then he is dealt with and faces God’s judgment. The homeowner is no held liable for the thief’s death. The only distinction made is that it obviously occurs at night (burglary). (I don’t want to get sidetracked with if this occurred in the day with a thief with a weapon because that might actually then fall into another category of crime.)
- If the thief is unable to make restitution, he is then to be in servitude until he makes a complete restitution.
Furthermore, consider that penalties were imposed if the guilty party confessed openly to his crime or there were two or three witnesses to confirm the matter (Deut. 19:15), which is exactly where we understand the issue of dealing with sin in the Church (Matt 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19).
Now, I ask you, which of these is just? Which one actually provides justice on behalf of the one stolen from? Which one actually teaches what honors God? Which one provides the best outcome for the victim? Which one actually deals with men as they are made in the image of God?
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. You really don’t. But one thing you cannot say here is that Biblical law should be equated with Sharia. After all, even biblical law not only provides justice, it also is to be used to drive men to the Christ (Gal.3:24) for salvation from sin (transgression against the law).