Friday, March 7, 2014

Lent: A season to reflect on our treatment of prisoners

The season of Lent is certainly the most meaningful of all seasons in the Christian year.

I hate what they did to Jesus.

I love what he did for me.

How barbaric the people were back in Bible times! The guards teased and taunted and abused Jesus. He suffered through a brief kangaroo court session. He was sentenced to death in a wrongful conviction. And the method of execution was especially designed to punish the condemned with more than just death. Crucifixion was just plain cruel.

Times have certainly changed, right?

No more ridicule and abuse by guards. No more kangaroo court sessions. No more wrongful convictions.

True, we don't have crucifixions in this country. We don't even have hangings or firing squads.

But until 1999 we were still using gas chambers. In 1983 the State of Mississippi decided to clear people out of the viewing room when a gasping prisoner refused to die after 8 minutes of torture in the chamber.

The electric chair, no longer being used, is still being romanticized. “Old Sparky,” it was called in many states. Texas has Old Sparky on display in its prison museum in Huntsville, right near the spot where the state continues to punish people with execution. As viewers watched in horror, the hair of an inmate being electrocuted actually caught on fire.

Now we use a more “civilized” means of taking the lives of prisoners...the lethal injection. I personally viewed one of those killings, and refuse to call it civilized.

Perhaps the season of Lent would be the perfect time to listen once again to the teachings of the risen Savior.

As I recall, he said the way we treat prisoners is actually to be considered the way we treat him.

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