Despite what we pledge to the flag, liberty and justice does not come to all in America or here on earth. In a recent case, Brock Turner received a six-month sentence in jail for sexual assault charges, which usually results in a minimum sentence of six years. In the words of the prosecutor, he received a “slap on the wrist sentence.” In contrast, there are individuals who believe Turner’s punishment was more than adequate for the crime. For example, his father has said “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” In addition, Aaron Persky, the judge who sentenced Turner, stated “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others” Despite the beliefs of his father and the judge, Turner evaded justice.
Partiality in Justice
Growing up I never believed the justice system was fair. I have heard a number of stories of individuals who have received unfair sentences because the judge was partial. Judge Persky’s refusal to carry out justice was a display of partiality and reminded me of all those stories. His decision in the sentencing was affected by Turner’s “age and lack of a criminal record.” In addition, Mike Armstrong, the defendants attorney, felt it necessary to remind the judge that the defendant comes from a “good family”, “with a record of good accomplishments”, and had an “elite and promising swimming career.” These statements lead me to believe partiality was the driving force behind his light sentencing and evasion of justice.
Partiality has no place in justice. The personal attributes of the defendant are irrelevant when it comes to the execution of justice. Whether an individual is young, old, a convicted felon,or first-time offender, they must be given a punishment suitable of the crime. Partiality disguised as justice leaves victims asking the question “Where is justice for me?”
Where is the justice for Turner’s victim? Her life has been forever altered. In a letter read in court, she wrote “I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You (Turner) cannot give me back the life I had before that night either.” The justice system failed to deliver “the liberty and justice for all” that we so often pledge to the flag. She now has to live with scars that were forced on her, while her victimizer goes free with a few bumps.
Justice Will Be Delivered
It saddens me to think about the countless unknown victims whose victimizers escaped justice. When I think of this, a question posed throughout the Bible comes to mind, “How Long Oh Lord?” How long will victims and criminals be treated unjustly because of their status? How long will leniency and vengeance masquerade as justice? It is almost enough to make you say, “I will take justice into my own hands.” Although, once these thoughts cross my mind I remember the Judge of Judges who will bring complete justice.
Justice Is On Its Way
Despite the complexity and various interpretations of the book, Revelation reminds us God will deliver complete justice. Though the judicial system is ordained to deliver justice, it will fail because it is made up of sinners. Criminals will go unpunished. Judges, attorneys, and prosecutors will fail the victims. As believers, we must not waver in our hope that justice will be served. God has allowed each unjust sentencing, but He also has a sentence that cannot be avoided. Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). As the old song goes “he may not come when you want him” but “he will be there right on time.” Victims of any kind can be comforted by the fact that one day God will bring perfect justice; but not just that, He “will wipe away every tear” and there “shall neither be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4). Justice will come to all, but God will be the one who gives it.
“But the character of God is the guarantee that all wrongs will be righted someday; when “the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed” (Roman 2:5) arrives retribution will be exact and no problems of cosmic unfairness will remain to haunt us. God is the judge so justice will be done”
J.I. Packer (Knowing God)
Jesus Took Our Justice
Knowing one day God will come and completely judge our lives is seemingly terrifying because our sin is plentiful. We know arguing our innocence is futile because God sees our depravity. We have earned God’s justice and our accomplishments can’t sway the judge. We should have to endure his wrath. But Jesus (cue organ chords) died on Calvery and took our death sentence. He is the just and the justifier (Romans 3:26). Now we, who deserve the full weight of God’s justice, can live knowing “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).