While we were traveling to the Midwest on Friday, I decided to listen to BBC 4 as I can stream it from Birmingham, England straight to my phone. I have found that listening to European radio has helped me begin to notice the ways that Europeans look at the world differently than Americans.
There was a panel of British pundits discussing various issues, and one caught my attention:
So the British wanted to sentence particularly heinous offenders to what Americans call a life sentence without the possibility of parole. They currently have around 49 prisoners serving a "life means life" sentence. The European Court for Human Rights ruled this a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights:
They claimed it represented “inhuman and degrading treatment” under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights to keep them in jail forever with no prospect of release.
In listening to the discussion, I was struck by the difficulties that a secular culture encounters. Those pundits who were more "law and order" rejected the ruling, but they had little framework to establish evilness and the right of government to repay wrongdoers for their crimes.
The more liberal pundits wanted the opportunity for redemption for the inmates. Yet once again the same problem existed. They had no basis. How does one repay for killing a number of people in a brutal way. Is education or psychotherapy enough to rehabilitate one?
It is so cliché, but I can't help but bring up the war criminals of World War II. I have been recently watching a number of documentaries dealing with that era. How does either side handle those evil people without a firm metaphysical (pun intended!) place to stand.
At the end of the segment, I was reminded of one of the strengths of the Christian case. It's true! Though marred by sin, we have a conscience that reflects God's truth. We all know that crimes must be paid for, even if we don't have a framework to prove it. We all know that we need a way for redemption, even if we have no method of giving it. We as Christians must present the truths of the Bible. God has given us that framework. His Spirit will convince hearts of these truths.