Ayatollah Justice

Lurking deep in the breast of a Florida legislator is the heart of an Ayatollah, eager to bring Muslim justice to the United States. And Americans are cheering him on. I'm referring to a bill recently introduced in the Florida legislature by Senator Robert Wexler—a bill that calls for chemical castration for second-time rapists. One poll found almost 60 percent of the public in favor of the bill. What a startling reversal in public opinion. Westerners used to be horrified by Muslim law, which punished a thief by cutting off his hand. But today many Westerners are willing to impose an equivalent form of punishment—except that we want the technological finesse of using a chemical instead of a knife. Aren't we advanced. But if the American justice system resorts to corporal punishment, where will it stop? Why don't we just haul out the stocks and pillories from medieval days and set them up in the marketplace. Or we drag the bodies of criminals through the streets and get our frustrations out. But for Christians the question is whether measures like these square with biblical teachings. Is the purpose of punishment to give people a chance to express their rage? Of course not. The Bible calls for justice, not psychological purging. It commands us to treat all men and women as creatures made in the image of God—even criminals. When someone breaks the law, he should pay the price justice requires. But he should not be treated as less than human. Surprisingly enough, this is not the first time castration has been proposed for rapists. Several years ago, a South Carolina judge gave three rapists a choice: either 30 years in prison or chemical castration. It caused a sensation in the media. One state representative at the time proposed a bill to castrate all rapists. "Treat them like animals," he thundered, "so the other animals will understand." There in a nutshell is what's wrong with Muslim-style corporal punishment: It treats criminals as subhuman creatures—as animals without a shred of dignity left. This is not biblical justice; it is raw revenge. The notoriety that the Florida castration bill has already achieved is a chilling reminder that Americans are rapidly turning away from a biblical notion of justice. Overwhelmed by crime, we are eager to let the state do anything to promote public safety. Sixty-percent support for castration is an ominous sign that people are willing to buy security at any cost. Faced with social chaos, people will always choose safety over liberty. Remember that Hitler himself was elected to power democratically, ushered in by a fear-ridden people who just wanted someone strong enough to make the streets safe again. But draconian measures that dehumanize criminals are not the answer to crime. Crime is the ultimate result when society turns its back on absolute morality, and it will never be reversed until we address the moral dimension. Unless we challenge people to give allegiance to an absolute and transcendent moral standard. And unless we do it quickly, we will continue to see calls for ever more draconian, Muslim forms of punishment. And we just might get an Ayatollah in power as well.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary