Huzzah! Another question in the inbox. This one comes from my friend Greg, who is back from the dead after falling off the face of the planet for the past 10 years (sorry, inside joke). I’m gonna warn you, though. This is a great question, but it’s heavy. Here’s the question:
Reuben, with the latest update in the Susan/Josh Powell and their sons’ case, there are many around me that are immediately condemning Josh to certain Degrees of Glory. Although, everyone knows that we are not capable of making such judgements, they all start flinging scriptures and opinions of how the Bible, BoM, and D&C explain murder. So my question isn’t really pertaining to the Powell case, but rather murder in general. Can forgiveness be given to those who plan and execute first degree murder? (Not that I’m planning anything.) I’m just curious to some outsiders perspective on the matter. . .
So in case anyone out there is living under a rock, Greg is referring to the tragic recent events involving the Powell family out in Utah, members of the Mormon church. Josh Powell, a man who (in hindsight) clearly has severe mental issues, [probably] killed his wife Susan back in 2009, and [definitely] killed himself and his two sons, ages 5 and 7. For more details about the events, see Wikipedia. An example of the controversy Greg is referring to can be found here.
First, let me just say that hell if I know what happens to murderers, right? You’ve got me…
But when has that ever stopped me from pretending like I have all the answers?
I don’t really understand the whole idea of a literal atonement. The metaphysics are beyond me. I don’t understand how Jesus dying thousands of years ago saves me from my actions today. Or how His suffering somehow means that I don’t have to. Or why a loving God would require suffering to begin with. The equation just really doesn’t add up for me. Why wouldn’t we all just suffer for our own sins? How, metaphysically, does one person’s suffering transfer to another person? If God is all powerful and all loving, why couldn’t He forgive us if He felt like it even without Jesus? And who is the bean counter in heaven that makes sure everyone’s Suffering Account (TM) is paid-in-full?
I know the sunday school answers to these questions, and no, I don’t find them helpful.
But here’s the thing: If I’m going to believe in Jesus (which I choose to do), then I’m going to believe in the most powerful Jesus I can imagine. And the most loving and compassionate one, too. The Jesus I can believe in is not one that will save me from some sins but not others. He’s not a sort-of-powerful deity that isn’t quite supreme enough to overcome the highest tier of sins, or the kind of deity that creates us (with all our flaws) without providing a path for redemption. And He certainly is not a God of vengeance (vengeance makes for great comic books – Ghost Rider anyone? – but lousy Christian deity). So yes, I absolutely believe that forgiveness is possible for murderers. And rapists and [insert horrible crime]ists. I won’t settle for any lesser Jesus.
Also, whose idea was it that some sins are more grievous than other sins in God’s eyes? I’m not sure I believe that at all.
Any more questions?
Ask Me Anything!!!