I sometimes listen to Protestant theologian R.C. Sproul on the radio. He has a 20 minute slot on the local generic Christian radio station from 1830 to 1850. I find much of what he has to say thought provoking, even when I get upset at how he often proof-texts the early Church fathers. But I digress. Today he was talking about some of the parables of Jesus, including the one of the unjust judge. I think it was in Luke 18. He was talking about the responsibility Christians have to obey the civil authorities, as well as areas where Christians have the responsibility to disobey.
It got me to thinking about one of my favorite semi-obscure Epistles, 1 Peter. Parts of chapter 2 were at one time interpreted to justify chattel slavery of human beings, but I think that this was a misinterpretation. The phrase that kept echoing through my brain was "Trust in Him who judges justly".
21: For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22: He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips.
23: When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to Him who judges justly.
It is a call to us, to me, to you - that when we are wronged and accused and abused - when the civil authorities have exceeded their boundaries such that one of us suffers - that we are still to trust in our heavenly Father.
In the past, I have had patients who have lost custody of their children and are trying to get them back. Their stories are heartbreaking. Sometimes it seems, in listening, that everytime the mom meets one goal as set by the legal system, another goal is created. Now you have to realize that I only get to hear one side of the story, and that I often meet these moms only after they have started on the process - but some of the hoops and hurdles that these women have to go through strike me as somewhat excessive. I heard one lady joking, somewhat wryly, that she would like to start a support group for other moms in her situation - except that she was afraid that it would be used against her and the other moms as yet another tool to take away her kids.
Divorce and custody battles are another arena where hoops and hurdles seem to be placed between parents and children. Unmarried parents who separate have even a tougher time remaining parents to their children, whether custodial or non-custodial. We have a culture that looks on the physical aspects of child care (enough cubic feet per child, not having to share, new clothes for school every year, regular vacations, etc) as taking priority over some of the spiritual and emotional aspects. I guess that maybe it is just easier to measure the material aspects.
Anyhow. What I started to say is that not only should we be praying for the moms and dads and children who have had their family unity shredded by the legal system, we should even more so be praying for the social workers, lawyers, and judges who make these decisions. We should pray that they will truly have the best interests of the children and their families in mind. We should pray that they will not be so overworked, overwhelmed, CYA minded, or venal that they take the easy way rather than the right way. We should pray that they will not allow their prejudices to cause them to judge unjustly. And we should all pray that God will grant mercy as well as justice.