Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There Is No "Law of Justice"

A friend of mine once wrote the following incredibly profound comment in a discussion of Love, Justice and Mercy:

There is no law of justice.

This is a misnomer that does not appear in the text of scriptures anywhere. There are rights of mercy and demands of justice. God must respect the demands of justice or He would cease to be God. The rights of mercy must be claimed by one who can exercise them to overpower justice.

So, the real questions are:

a) Who demands justice?

b) Who claims mercy?

c) How does mercy overpower but not rob justice?

The answers to those questions are written throughout the scriptures and even more plainly in the writings of Joseph Smith.

a) Satan, the accuser of his brethren (Revelations) and each of us when we refuse to forgive those who've offended us and when we refuse to forgive ourselves

b) Christ (Moroni 7:27)

c) Consider the account of the woman taken in adultery. A sinless intermediary pleads for mercy on behalf of the guilty. Because this intermediary willingly bore the infinite and eternal anguish of injustice for us, we who have a right to demand justice are shamed by His gracious and merciful forgiveness into laying down our own stones. We refuse to accuse our brethren and the breach between us is healed through the pure love of Christ. We are reconciled to each other and it changes our nature such that we can become reconciled to God. This is why only the merciful can receive mercy.

Joseph Smith taught that "if we do not accuse each other, God will not accuse [us]" and that "if a man has no accusers he will enter heaven".

Longer answer:

All of this becomes clear when you remember that God is primarily the great parent of the universe. Would your children continue to honor you, respect you, and love you if you treated them with favoritism and injustice? You would cease to have an uncompelled dominion (d&c121) - they would not choose to follow after you. You must respect their need for justice. If one comes to you with a complaint against another, you must address it fairly.

Now imagine that your oldest child willingly accepts the punishment for your second child every time that second child misbehaves. The second child comes to you with a complaint against the third child. Your oldest comes between the two younger children and implores the second child, for whom he has willingly and selflessly suffered, to forgive the younger child. Your second child, seeing that his older brother loves the youngest child also, and feeling the love his older brother has shown him already, albeit undeserved, relinquishes his right to just recompense in favor of saving the youngest child.

Justice can't be robbed. It must be willingly abdicated.


Mama D said...

Fantastic insight! And likening it to parenthood offers ideas for me to ponder as I evaluate my parenting skills...

Gwennaƫlle said...

I love how you have turned it out, how you have worded it.

This makes it more clear as for those who refuse to repent for a need to pay themselves for the price of what they will have done. It makes it clear and logical and FAIR.

Anonymous said...

I too love the familial metaphor-the only metaphor that has ever worked for me when it comes to the Atonement.I will be using this in lessons and in teaching my children if that is OK.

I'm a therapist,and find that work with clients is not truly successful without forgiveness. I've been thinking about this for many years now,how to frame this as a therapeutic necessity without guilting the client out.I've been thinking about what in our work has been successful and why,what a good outcome looks like in my opinion.

On reflection,I think it comes down to enabling the growth of compassion-often through a process of beginning to forgive the self,and through the insight that comes from that experience,a capacity for forgiving the other begins.I'm not convinced that work is ever completed,but those capacities can be given a space to grow.

We can waste our lives waiting for others to change,or being angry with them for not doing so.

Clumsily put perhaps,but I'm just starting to work more consciously with this. Thanks for helping me to begin to articulate this.

SilverRain said...

Then I am in big trouble, because I'm certain that there are those who will never cease to demand justice from me.

Papa D said...

SilverRain, I think you misread the point of the post. If you are reacting to the "if noone accuses us . . ." quote, taking it as a stand alone statement misses the full concept - that, in the presence of God, noone will be able to accuse someone who refuses to accuse them. Thus, the freeing act is not others forgiving us; it's when we forgive others. That is what nullifies any accusation to which they still might cling outside the presence of God.

Iow, they won't be able to look Christ in the eye and continue their accusation, since he shouldered their burden, as well. If you've forgiven them, and he's forgiven you, there is no "law" to which they can cling and upon which they can make any demands.

Matthew said...

This is such a powerful and empowering idea. I have come to the same conclusions and it has really changed my outlook on things.

Patty said...

Wow. What a profound post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with Anonymous- the familial metaphor really brings it home, so to speak.