How should a Christian Australia react to the executions of the ‘Bali Nine’ duo?
The Western world is understandably saddened by the news that the Bali Nine ringleaders Chan and Sukumaran have been moved to what is perhaps their final destination ahead of execution for their crime of drug smuggling.
It has been a long road for the pair. They have spent almost a decade in prison already, for a crime that would attract only a fraction of that prison term if committed in Australia.
Our country is divided on what should be done. Some say that they must pay for their crimes. Others say they have already paid. Some say it is an unjustly harsh penalty. There are Australians who argue that the pair, indeed all drug smugglers, must be aware of the penalties if they get caught and must have willingly taken the risk.
Still others consider the effect drugs have on addicts, their families and the young and believe the death penalty is a necessary deterrent.
Our Prime Minister made a veiled threat on this subject recently, suggesting aid provided to Indonesia came with strings attached. This was an unfortunate suggestion, although it did seem to strike a chord with some sections of the Australian population.
Andrew Bolt, a well known political commentator offered a possibly true but unduly harsh assessment of Australian opinion this week when he said we were biased: he said we agreed with some government sanctioned deaths, such as that mooted for the Boston Marathon bomber but not for death penalties carried out in other countries like Indonesia.
Still others say it is unfair to turn all our attention to one case when there are hundreds of people in the same situation across the globe, most of whom we will never come to know.
So, how should we behave as Christians and what attitude should we take?
It is fair to say that Australia should not interfere in the political process of another nation.
It is right that we should provide aid to our neighbours in their time of need without expecting a favour in return (although grants may need to be monitored to ensure they are used appropriately).
It is also right that we make representations to other nations, calling on them to be forgiving of people who have violated their laws.
We can also evangelise to prisoners in gaols across the globe and we can ask God to intervene. If it is part of his plan He surely will.
And of course we can pray for prisoners on death row, asking the Lord to forgive them and for them to find faith whilst still on this mortal coil.
Christians must also not judge or condemn.
And we can teach our children, and bear witness.
Perhaps however, our greatest efforts must be directed towards the families of these and other prisoners. It is they who will need all of our support and all of God’s grace for the rest of their lives. It is they who will have to endure the greatest punishment of all.