One of the teens (IQ - 72) confessed but later recanted, and refused to testify against the others. The defense argued that the teens were picked out by the prosecution because of their punkish looks and their love of heavy metal music and because one of the boys had shown some interest in the occult. All three were convicted. One is awaiting execution by lethal injection. The two others are serving life terms.
Apart from the horror of the crime two things struck me most. The first had to do with the subject of forgiveness. In one scene the father of one of the victims says that he couldn’t forgive the murderers presently but he knew he would have to someday. In the same scene a grandfather of the same victim said that of course they would have to forgive the murderers because "Jesus has forgiven us."
Forgiveness of such deeds should not come quickly or easily. Anger about such deeds and toward those who commit them is entirely appropriate. Lewis Smedes has written, "Anger is the executive power of human decency. If you do not get angry and stay angry when a bad thing happens, you lose a piece of your humanity."
But the father knew that one day he would have to forgive. Why? For one reason, his own sake. Anger that can never be laid aside becomes a cancer that eats away your soul. The only way to eventually get on with your life after such an event is by forgiving.
The second thing that struck me is the limitation of human judgment and justice. Much physical evidence was presented that indicated that the boys were not killed where their bodies were found and where one teen at first confessed the deed took place. Suspicion was cast on the stepfather of one of the victims. One of the film’s makers admitted on the Today show that he thought there was "reasonable doubt" as to the defendants' guilt. The truth is perfect judgment or justice is not to be found in this world, only at the throne of God. It is not in our human power to know all the facts or the secrets of the human heart. Human justice can only be our best approximation. Perfect justice is only yet to be, and there will be mercy as well.
©1996 C. David Hess
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