“AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH”
PART ONE: Restrictive for self-control
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR PART TWO: PERMISSIVE ARTICLE, THANKS!
Mary A. LaClair
“If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death. Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God/” (NIV)
Is this permissive or restrictive? We will see that it is actually both permissive and restrictive. We will look at the restrictive side first, here in Part One.
Having raised three active, rambunctious boys all close in age, to successful adulthood is what taught me the deeper meaning of this axiom. It’s too bad so many people take it as a final statement of being permissive—it is not only permissive, it is first restrictive. Let me explain.
Contrary to man’s ways, Christianity wishes us to love our enemies and actually do good to them. Wow!Try to teach THAT to three eight year old boys in the middle of a squabble. They would think it stupid. Christianity and church would not be very appealing. Well, be honest, wouldn’t you think that? Even I still have some problems with it at times….lots of times.
With the young boys, what started out as a friendly goose pile of two eight year olds and one seven year old turned into a not-so-friendly tussle before it escalated into the first stages of a full out fight, with shouts for intervention by Mom. But, what made that which started out as friendly, end not so friendly?
“He punched me in the back and pulled my hair besides stepping on my toe when all I did was step on his toe! That’s not fair!”
Telling him to ‘love him and do good to him because he stepped on your toe’, just wouldn’t work. Well, truthfully, it wouldn’t cut it with me either.
Therefore Mom found herself instructing them that if someone stepped on their toes, they could only step on the other’s toes back, and only as hard as it was done to them, no harder. One could NOT under any circumstances return it with a punch in the back and a hair pulling. That’s when I learned that ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ is really a restrictive guideline, one which is used to teach the beginnings of self control.
What I learned in raising boys was that we must tame and train the human side of us before we can train the spiritual side of us.
The physical comparison is that when we are babies we can’t run and leap without first learning to crawl, then standing, then walking: all of which take place over the course of time. Each generation and each individual has to learn this. Justso, we must take baby steps on to spiritual goals just as we do towards physical goals. We can’t start out loving our enemies and doing good to them, when what we really want to do is to punch ’em out. It’s just not natural.
A first step: learn that the punishment cannot exceed the crime. We are not to over-punish our enemies. Try getting that through to an upset youngster (or adult for that matter).
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is merely the first step on a long journey. It is not an end to itself nor is it a final statement of Christianity; it is merely a baby step along the way. Each generation, each individual has to follow these steps; each generation, each individual has to learn to properly temper punishment and anger before he can properly love unconditionally.
To skip these steps and jump ahead to simply ‘loving the enemy’ too often leads to approving of wrong actions. We need to be very careful about this. When we run too fast and try to jump too far, we fall down. This is not good for the runner or the spectators.
We need to be careful not to jump ahead of these steps. Greasy grace is grace that overlooks all things and forgives everything; and it is not godly. We need to be diligent. Concerning due diligence you will find good information in the article linked below, and listed under this site’s category “Judging” .
Self control must be learned at an early age. Sorry to say, many adults have not attained it. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, is a first step in taming the human spirit. It is first restrictive.
It is also permissive “life for life: for intentional criminal activity: please see: https://theproverbs120column.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/life-for-life-a-form-of-justice-for-intentional-criminal-activity/
Thanks for reading!