I don’t do a lot of guest posts on my blog. Actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a guest. (But if anyone is interested, let me know.) Today’s guest is someone very special to me. It’s my husband! (So how could I turn him down?) He had a blog post he had to write, but no blog to post it. I think he should definitely start a blog.
As I have listened to the outcries stemming from the “not guilty” verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial, a couple of things stand out to me as I hear and read peoples’ reactions to the verdict. Reactions have ranged from passionate pleas to “hang the witch” to passive indifference. However, what is particularly disturbing to me are some of the reactions within the so-called Christian online community. I have seen several people make comments along the lines of “the jury may have found her not guilty, but she will still burn in hell for her crimes.” Now, while the possibility for eternal punishment certainly exists, the fact that some delight in this possibility shows they have a gross misunderstanding of some of the basic tenets of Christianity and the mission of Jesus Christ (to seek and save that which was lost).
Before I address more specifics of the attitude of some Christians, let me make a comment about civility in general. It seems that many within the Christian community have forgotten that we are ambassadors of Christ and that our speech is often the only picture that those outside of the church will “see.” Colossians 4:6 states “let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” If we as Christians respond to this trial the same way that the world does, then no one will want to hear our message. One basic premise that we as Christians should be following in all that we do is, of course, the golden rule from Matthew 7:12, “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” If you weren’t guilty of murder, but had already been convicted by the mainstream media, you wouldn’t want everyone and his brother making comments about how you were going to burn in hell, now would you? So let us make every effort to live peaceably with those around us (Romans 12:18).
Now I must admit I did not follow this particular trial closely. I didn’t watch any of it on TV, but I did casually read about it in my local newspaper. I think I have probably learned more since the trial concluded than I did while it was in session. One thing I think can be said with reasonable certainty is that Casey was a less-than-exemplary mother, and she went for weeks without reporting her missing daughter. We do not know that she committed murder, and there certainly wasn’t enough solid evidence to convict her by a jury of her peers.
But let’s suppose for a minute that she is guilty of murder. Does that mean for certain that she is necessarily “going to burn in hell for her crimes?” Well, in a word, no!
But let me be more specific. Another fundamental tenet of Christianity, found in Romans 3:23, is that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of god.” Another basic premise is found in Romans 6:23 – “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We must remember that we are all considered guilty apart from the grace of Jesus Christ. As James 2:10 states, “for whoso ever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Despite the bad news that we are all sinners, the Bible abounds with the good news of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.). I think that is where we as Christians should focus our energy and attention – in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with Casey Anthony, and praying that her soul will be saved from hell, instead of taking delight in saying things like the “burn in hell” statement referenced above. Let us not forget that as Jesus hung on the cross the thief (who may also have been a murderer) asked Jesus to remember him when he came in his kingdom. What did Jesus say to him in reply, in Luke 23:43? “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” So, while we are still alive, Jesus can have mercy on our soul!
In addition, let us not forget when the apostle Paul lists the types of people that will not inherit the kingdom of God in I Corinthians 6:9-10, murderers are actually not specifically listed, but adulterers, idolaters, and covetous people among others, are. But let us also not forget that these verses are followed by verse 11 which states “and such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (emphasis mine).”
While it is a horrible tragedy that Caylee Anthony lost her life at such a young age, and while it is equally true that whoever murdered her probably should pay with his/her physical life, let us not be so quick to eternally condemn someone else’s soul to eternal separation from God. Let us be careful how we judge, lest we ourselves be judged more severely (Matthew 7:1-2). And, yes, let us consider praying for Casey Anthony, and for her future repentance and salvation, instead of condemning her to “burn in hell.”