True Grit, the Bible and the Death Penalty


I’ve been walking around (pacing really), fidgeting, and generally unsettled today. Tomorrow morning I will go into a courtroom and listen to attorneys argue the merits of the evidence presented in the death penalty case of State of Florida vs. Kevin Don Foster. I have a special interest in this case. Mr. Foster was tried and found guilty of murdering my younger brother.

As you can imagine, this is very emotional for me and I know that I will be watched for a reaction from various media outlets. How I respond to this situation makes a difference for me, for my family, for my friends, and for people I have not met yet.

“True Grit’s” stern little girl Mattie – – – dramatizes a single line of biblical text. And the way the film interprets that particular text makes that biblical verse directly related to the governor of Illinois’ recent decision to ban the death penalty, a decision which was reportedly informed by the Bible.

The movie’s and the Illinois governor’s conclusions – about capital punishment in this case – are exactly opposite. While Mattie’s justice requires death for the man who killed her dad, the governor’s has no place for such execution. Yet both have biblical precedent. – K. Swenson

The wicked flee when no one pursues,
   but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” ~ Proverbs 28:1

Why does my response make a difference to anybody outside of my immediate connections? Because I claim to be a Christ – follower. Because I work at the vocation of pastoral ministry. Because I have allowed myself to become the public representative of the victim, my brother, Mark Schwebes. Because I can influence others. Because maybe I can help someone else find peace in the pain. Because maybe someone else can help me continue to heal.

People looking to the Bible for a single, clear, yes-or-no answer about the death penalty will be disappointed, – K. Swenson

For these and many other reasons I have been given the opportunity to influence others to stretch their hearts and minds and beliefs of what justice looks like. Please pray that my response is worthy of a disciple of Christ and that others will see the work He has begun in me. Please pray also that God’s mercy is evident in this place and He is glorified in all things here.

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One thought on “True Grit, the Bible and the Death Penalty

  1. Pingback: Defense team for Lords of Chaos’ Foster testifies at hearing « Walking in the Wilderness

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