PUNITIVE IN LAW
Generally, the idea behind creation of law (and the compliance of it) is because it is preventive, corrective and punitive. Law will never work if there is no punitive measure guiding its disobedience. (The eyes of the law, unlike the “Omni-eyes” of God, do not watch compliance of law, but once one is caught flouting an aspect of the law, punishment is assured.) No one will ever feel compelled to obey any law if they can interpret its meanings and subject its negations to their own character analysis and acceptance. If the law against over speeding for example is just to remind motorists that over speeding kills and not to over speed, then I know many people who will NEVER regard such caution. For example, I have a friend who constantly lights a cigarette under the federal government’s announcement that “…cigarette smokers are liable to die young“! If after the violation of a law, a confession is made to the police and police commissioner, acting on behalf of the State, can forgive the offender, then I know two third of Nigerians (including this writer) that will gladly take up that challenge and break whatever existing law even if it is for the fun of it. In that case, even armed robbers, rapists, arsonists will not bother going to the police station to confess, they will send a signed letter of confession to the police with some percentage of their loots as gratuity for the forgiveness of their sins just as they embark on another theft. Child rapists will send voice recordings of confession of previous rape as they climaxed on top of another 9 years old girl victim. If there is no punitive measure in law, there cannot be any adherence to it by anyone beyond the mere boredom of repetition of the same crime.
However, the attractions to God and one of the most important reason for His worship, is because no matter how grievous the sin/offence, a plea of the adoring and forgiving blood of Jesus Christ, and the sin is totally forgiven.
Gone were those days when criminals and betrayals of societal trusts were outcasts from communities in Nigeria. Nowadays, there are chieftaincy titles for criminals who torment the poor people with their loots. In ancient times, churches were curious about and preached against stolen wealth. Nowadays, such stolen wealth receive Holy Communion from priests who arbor the looters and make them deacons and deaconesses in the churches. The assumption behind not preaching against crimes and stolen trusts in the churches, is because it is believe that the “healing power of the blood of Jesus Christ had set the criminals free.” Everyone is convinced that a way out of guilty conscience is to go for confession and “buy” forgiveness of sins. That is all.
Does it make sense: that God’s infinite laws are made so that they can be broken repeatedly? Is it really true that our own logic is not the same as God’s logic? In our logic, it does not make sense to make a law so that it would be broken and no chance for punitive measures against its violation.
Arguments have been proffered that God has given everyone the “free will” to act as each deems fit. That free will makes one commits or abstains from sin. The argument went further by claiming that God recognizes only genuine and pure confessions and He truly forgives- like in the case of David- the psalmist. David in the Bible always went to God with powerful poetic repentance and God always forgave him. Perhaps, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka must write a powerful poem of repentance before he dies so that his not going to church might be forgiven eventually. However, with every free will comes the punitive law of responsibility. An actor is responsible for every action taken- good or bad! Being responsible or taking responsibility for actions is in itself a caution against excesses.
There is no doubt that people deliberately commit sins because they know God will say; it’s not right, but it’s okay I forgive you! What if God uses another measure- in addition to the blood of Jesus Christ- to measure forgiveness? What if singing songs more sonorous than the Psalmists is not enough to guarantee true repentance and hell is looming high? It cannot be so simple that after former Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force Tafa Balogun had helped rained untold horror on the public, stole 13billion Naira that God has written off his debt with fate just like that! There are some victims who are daily tormented by constant recollection of the day armed robbers came to terrorize them. There are people living with memories of heinous crime committed against them; some rape victims who are unable to move closer to any man again; some people who are psychologically damaged because of what other people did to them; husbands who watched while gang rapists climbed on their pregnant wives or impregnate their wives while they watched helplessly. The sinners had approached God and confessed and had been forgiven! It is either the concept of God’s wrath and forgiveness is unfair or we misrepresent its interpretations. It cannot be right to destroy a nation knowingly and for God to say; it’s not right, but it’s okay I forgive you! Where is punitive?
Imagine a situation where at some point, God’s wrath had been misconstrued and miss represented by the church? What if sins are not totally forgiven even after pleading the blood? What if truly, God does not forgive sins committed in full knowledge of its implications and consequences with the same ease as we think he does? What if God does not forgive, will our politicians still increase poverty rather than eradicating it? If we are aware that there are punitive measures in sins/crimes, will people still make money from spoils of war? Will people still endanger lives of the others knowing fully well that there is no refuge in God?
What if God does not forgive sins committed? Then we are going to rot in punishment unless like Michael Jackson sings; “look at the man in the mirror and then make a change!”