Sep 26, 2008

Murder: As Bad As We Think?

I've always been under the impression that premeditated murder is an unforgivable sin. Is it?

The Bible is full of great examples of really bad people who did really bad things. The type of things that we're supposed to avoid doing, with the biggest no-no being murder. So that's why I have problems with a couple of important Bible figures.

The first one is King David and his arranging the murder of Uriah in order to score with Bathsheba. In the Bible Dictionary it says:

"Like Saul he was guilty of grave crimes; but unlike Saul, he was capable of true contrition and was therefore able to find forgiveness, except in the murder of Uriah. As a consequence David is still unforgiven, but he received a promise that the Lord would not leave his soul in hell. He will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium. Because of his transgressions, he has fallen from his exaltation (D&C 132: 39)."

In D&C 132: 39 it says:

"David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord."

So, King David had to be a pretty corrupt fellow in order to kill an innocent man and steal his wife. I would say that Uriah's murder should fall into the category of "premeditated murder" because he certainly had time to think it over and come up with a plan to get rid of him. It doesn't get much more evil than that. David has apparently not found "forgiveness," but did he receive a special promise from the Lord about not leaving his soul in hell? Did he do something special to get a "get of out jail card," or will all murderers have a chance at that same "promise?"

Perhaps more troubling to me is the Apostle Paul (aka Saul -- but not the same Saul mentioned above in the story of David) and his involvement in the stoning of Stephen. As we all know, Paul was once the ancient equivalent of an anti-Mormon, but took it to the extreme. Some of his actions against Christians would have done the Taliban proud. In the Book of Acts, we read:

"And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:58-59)

"And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." (Acts 8:1-3)


The Bible doesn't say that Saul (Paul) was the one who personally hurled the stones at Stephen. However, it appears that he played pretty much the same role in Stephen's murder as David played in Uriah's. Paul "consented" unto Stephen's death, on top of throwing men and women in the slammer (for all we know, they could have been executed as well). The fact that "the witnesses laid down their clothes" at Saul's feet indicates to me that he was probably the leader who had the power to make sure that this execution was either carried out or stopped. Even if he didn't cast any stones himself, is he any less guilty than David or any other murderer?

So Paul repented and was converted to Christianity. If anyone ever turned their life around for the better, it was him. Although not confirmed, evidence suggests that Paul was martyred himself, when he was beheaded under the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. But these are the things I'm wondering about Paul:
  • Was he not guilty of murder in the stoning of Stephen? And worse yet, premeditated murder?
  • Even though he became an apostle, was turning his life around enough to erase his past?
  • Should he have even been eligible to be an apostle in the first place if he was guilty of the murder of Stephen?
  • Why does King David remain unforgiven and fallen from exaltation, while Paul went on to become a revered apostle of Christ?
  • How does this apply to modern-day murderers in society? Should they have any hope of forgiveness or is premeditated murder unforgivable?

20 comments:

Mormon Heretic said...

FD,

Very interesting post. This is just one of those things that is hard for me to reconcile.

Paul readily admits he was guilty of murder--although, like the extermination order, technically it was legal. So legalistically, it puts him in a slightly different category than your run of the mill murderer.

As for whether he should be eligible to be an apostle, well, I have 2 answers. (1) "Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies."

(2) There is some debate about Paul's title of apostle. Many scholars do not believe that Paul was part of the 12, and the title "apostle" is more of a generic term. Of course, this doesn't mesh well with mormon theology--I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility.

In the interest of bringing other points of view which are not necessarily my own, Orthodox Jews say that as commander in chief, it was David's prerogative to have Uriah killed for disobeying the order to sleep with his wife. Most people will find this position preposterous (as I do). I believe I talked about this on my blog a while back.

How does it apply to modern-day murderers? Hmmmm, I'm not aware of any who have put forth a believable story like Paul did. Until somebody does, I think they'll get either death or prison like everybody else.

Should they have forgiveness? Well, that is up to God, although Jesus tells us we must forgive all, and I don't think he made exceptions for murderers. Obviously, this is easier said than done. As I've studied this whole concept of forgiveness, I've learned that we stunt our own growth when we fail to forgive--it is not something God does, it is something we do to ourselves.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Very interesting insights, MH. Thanks so much for sharing.

Interesting loophole with the extermination order.

I think that there are two different kinds of murderers:

1) Those who know that they are doing something that they shouldn't do, but do it anyways. I think almost all murderers fall into this category, whether it be someone who shoots someone else in a case of road rage, or a guy who kills his wife. People like this know that it's wrong, but let their hatred and temper get the better of them. After they commit the crime, most will probably feel guilty and even ask for forgiveness.

2) More troubling to me is the type of murderer who murders and yet thinks he is doing what's right. I suppose that Paul could fall into this category. He felt he was doing what needed to be done, carrying out "justice," perhaps. And then we have murderers who are also religious zealots, such as suicide bombers, or even those who participated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Some of these people are so brainwashed to believe that they're doing God's will that I do sometimes wonder whether they can be lumped into the same category as #1. As sick and twisted as this sounds, would God have mercy on someone who commits a horrendous crime if they truly believe 100% that it's His will? Like in the case of a jihad?

Mormon Heretic said...

Yes, I agree that there are 2 types of murderers: (1) common criminals, whether in a fit of passion, or premeditated, and (2) holy murderers, including Jihadists, Crusaders, the Laffertys, and even Joshua/Moses.

I am greatly concerned when anyone, biblical or not, says God told him to murder. Now it's one thing to defend yourself. I see nothing wrong with self-defense, as many of the Nephite wars were. But I do have a problem with offensive murders, such as Joshua, and even Paul.

I hadn't considered Paul in my blog post "Joshua's Unholy War," but I think this is an interesting addition. I see his holy war against Stephen and the Christians as completely misguided. Certainly, he was not the only one stoning Stephen. Why was he the only one that had a personal visit with Jesus?

I think it is interesting to see that someone as holy as Paul could be guilty of such a heinous act. Most traditional mormons expect apostles and prophets to be infallible--Paul certainly was not. Now, I know that traditionalists will say that Paul's murder happened before his conversion. But, with his unrivaled scriptural knowledge, shouldn't he have known better? I think this just goes to prove that even some of the Lord's anointed can make some serious mistakes.

The Faithful Dissident said...

You brought up an interesting point in your first comment when you said, "Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies."

As we've examined before with Joshua, Jonah (due to his hatred of the Ninevites), and now Paul, it makes me wonder how far someone who is called of God has to go before he can get "fired from the job."

In Paul's defence, he wasn't a prophet when he participated in the murder of Stephen. But his past sins were apparently not enough to disqualify him from being an apostle either (although there is debate surrounding that title).

I was thinking about the guys involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I remember distinctly that the call to the men to pull the trigger on the victims was, "Do your duty!" Just based on my modest knowledge about the massacre, it would surprise me if those men were simply cold-hearted murderers. I think it went a lot deeper than that. I think that they were perhaps truly convinced that they were doing "their duty" to protecting the Church. Although I personally doubt Brigham Young's direct involvement in the massacre, I know that it's been debated. And, even if he was guilty of sanctioning the massacre, cases like Joshua and Paul make me wonder whether it would have been enough for him to lose his call as prophet.

Like you said, it's hard to reconcile things like this. It's kind of scary to think that there can be such a fine line between being faithful and obedient, and being brainwashed into doing something terrible because you believe it's God's will (like MMM). I think I mentioned in your Joshua post something about God getting people to do his dirty work. I think I prefer it that way because I feel that any God-sanctioned murder sets a precedent for another, and therefore excuses man from the sin of murder. If God wants someone liquidated, why does He need man to do it? It makes it easier when murder always = BAD. :)

pb said...

This is an interesting dialog, and touches on, for me, a very disturbing aspect of religiosity, which is that it can lead to the sanction of heinous acts in the name of obedience to god's direction. I don't believe that god actually directs murder. Violence and the taking of life is the antithesis of the peace that god brings, and cannot possibly come of god. Yet if obedience and faith are the highest virtues, a person may be deluded into believing they are acting righteously when they are doing what they otherwise would not. I fear religions that preach faith and obedience before the development of one's own conscience. Authors or the most recent book about the MMM were on radiowest over the summer, and one of the authors stated that, at any point in the process, until literally the moment the massacre began, it could have been stopped by any one person who participated in it. Such a person, had there been one, would have had to have been a person of courage and -- most importantly -- developed consciousness -- not a person of obedience and faith.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I can't really say that I believe God directs murder either, but at the same time I can think of a few examples where killing an individual can be for the "greater good," or that it's better for one person to perish than "an entire nation." This was the case in Nephi slaying Laban (which he did only after being instructed by God to do so). The same could be said of the people who tried to assassinate Hitler (not that God instructed them to do so, but I think that most would agree it would have been good if they had succeeded), and all those who want to see bin Laden's head on a silver platter. I've often thought of the scenario if I could travel back in time and if I had seen Hitler as a baby, knowing what he would grow up to become and all the lives that he would eventually destroy, whether I would take his life. I don't know what I would do, but it would certainly be tempting.

If murder was always wrong no matter what, then there shouldn't be an exception for rape victims who want an abortion. Neither should terrorists be liquidated to prevent them from suicide missions. These are two examples which, I believe, are actually murder, but where I can see the greater good: the physical/mental health of the woman who has been raped, and the innocent people whose lives terrorists are plotting to take.

So while I believe that God would want certain people removed at certain times, I wonder why He doesn't take their lives Himself. It seems strange to me that He would turn Lot's wife into a pillar of salt just like that, while He apparently needed Nephi to kill the drunken, unconscious Laban.

Mormon Heretic said...

PB,

You make some excellent points. There are far too many people in this world who are blindly obedient, and will follow a prophet no matter what he directs. I think it is important to study things out in our minds, and then discern if it is really from God. As Paul shows, even godly men can be deceived.

Blind obedience is a recipe for atrocities--one need simply look at Nazis, Jihadists, Crusaders, Hauns or Mountain Meadows participants to see that these people were not thinking clearly. In every case, they were encouraged to be obedient. I believe in moderation in all things, and these are examples of how moderation would have prevented extremism.

Pre-emptive war is troubling as well. While it is interesting to wonder if someone had killed Hitler as a child, this whole Iraq mess is the result Pres Bush saying he was essentially doing what FD suggests (albiet Saddaam was a man, not child). While I think pre-emptive war is better than nothing, it has its own unintended consquences as well.

While I can see Nephi's point about killing Laban as better for one man to die than for a nation to dwindle, I can't help but ask if there wasn't some other way to accomplish this. Couldn't he have simply knocked out Laban, tied him up, taken his clothes, got the plates, and let him live somehow? I'm not entirely comfortable with this story either. As big of a jerk as Laban was, he was still a father, son, and husband to someone who likely was quite heartbroken at his demise.

Hitler, Saddaam, and the Laffertys, on the other hand, I have much less sympathy for. They were all sadistic, and deserve their punishments (though the Laffertys are getting off easy in my book.)

Mormon Heretic said...

The thought comes to mind, "If the prophet told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?"

The Faithful Dissident said...

Haha, good point, MH.

I know I wouldn't. Heck, I never would have even followed Brigham to Utah. After reading "Rough Stone Rolling," I'm pretty sure I would have stayed put out east with Emma. :)

pb said...

FD, I'm unfamiliar with the nephi story, but I understand well enough the argument re: Hitler, terrorists, etc. However, I am unpersuaded. I do not believe that violence is the highest course, in any circumstance. That doesn't mean I don't understand why people resort to it and why they may delude themselves into justifying it. Whatever the justification, however, the consequence of violence is the perpetuation of more violence. I can't imagine Christ taking up arms, nor advocating the resolution of problems by annihilation of "the enemy." Rather, Christ urged that we shift our view and learn to love the enemy. That would include hitler, terrorists, and everyone else. Without such a shift, "We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us."

Dennis said...

This is a very interesting post. I've thought about some of these same issues regarding David.

I will say simply this. It is a folk theology that murder is an unforgivable sin. There is no scriptural justification for it, and I think general authorities who might have said things along these lines were clearly misguided.

I think the confusion comes from when the scriptures talk about "shedding innocent blood" -- which is unforgivable. I see this sin as the same thing as denying the Holy Ghost. The innocent blood that is shed is Christ's (symbolically). Others have written about this, but I don't have sources on me right now.

I've noticed that in recent times apostles and prophets have said that the only sin that is unforgivable is denying the Holy Ghost. Several years ago Elder Packer (wrongly considered to be the most "conservative" and "orthodox" apostle) said this, and if I recall correctly he was very emphatic about the "only."

There are those, of course, who will say that murder is forgivable, but only in the same sense that only sons of perdition will not inherit a degree of glory (this is how David will not be kept out of hell, for example). From this perspective, all sins will eventually be forgiven (not only potentially forgiven) except for sons of perdition. I think for many people this observation is probably true (especially for those already in the covenant like David), but what about people like King Lamoni? I'd say that Lamoni is very clearly cast as "Celestial material," in spite of his previous murders.

I should say, though, regarding David -- I'm not convinced that he is unable to inherit even the Celestial Kingdom (given his sincere penitence), in spite of the commentary in the Bible Dictionary. (I realize what is said in D&C 132, but this doesn't clearly foreclose on this possibility). Don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to make any conclusive claims here. I'm just saying that I'm not convinced about conclusive claims in the other direction.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Dennis,

Thanks for some very interesting insight. Certainly gives us a lot to think about.

I'm curious, how do you all feel about the death penalty? Most of the Mormons I know would, I think, find the death penalty justifiable. I've seen quotes by leaders defending "the law of the land" and thereby justifying capital punishment, but I can't say I've ever read anything to the contrary.

Personally, I'm against the death penalty, even in cases of premeditated murder. I feel that the modern justice system, as good as it is, is flawed and only God's justice is perfect enough to justify taking a life. And because humans can make errors on judgment, a few individuals will inevitably be put to death even though they are innocent.

I find it ironic that we, as a Church, have problems with euthanasia for terminally-ill people, and not with the death penalty in a flawed justice system. How is one "playing God" and not the other?

Dennis said...

FD,

I had typical LDS views on the death penalty until I took a bioethics class several years ago that helped me open my mind to the possibility that our current death penalty system might be seriously flawed, as you say.

I wouldn't say I'm inherently opposed to the death penalty, even in our current justice system, but I do think that death penalties should be quite rare (similar to Obama's position, really).

But then again, judging from my 2 years of work at Utah State Prison, I think our entire penal system is quite unjust. The idea of plea bargaining is especially bad, in my opinion. This practice, as much as anything, accounts for the imprisonment of innocent people (especially poor ones). I am in favor of comprehensive penal and corrections reform -- and I think if the American people really thought about how much money we spend on an almost worthless correctional system (as far as corrections is concerned), and how the vast majority of all prisoners will be back on the streets within a few years, then we would be more likely to make some serious attempts at reform. (As a Mormon, I pride myself that one of Joseph Smith's chief U.S. presidential platforms is a focus on educating prisoners.

I will say, though, regarding the death penalty -- if we're going to sentence people to death we need to do it with confidence. None of this waiting 15 years or longer. Honestly, I think that all the red tape surrounding what it takes to actually give a person the death penalty is because of a certain sense of hesitancy regarding the appropriateness of such a sentence. If we aren't willing to send someone to the execution/injection chamber within 1-3 months, then we shouldn't do it at all.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I think that educating and rehabilitating prisoners is vital. I realize that some violent criminals may be so screwed up that they are a "lost case." However, I would bet that we would be surprised at just how many could be rehabilitated if given the right tools and guidance. I think that very few humans actually fall into that "lost cause" category.

I've watched some interesting documentaries on Norwegian TV about prison systems in the US. When you see some of these maximum security prisons, it's scary to think that some of those people are going to be back on the street someday. If you lock up a guy for 30 years with no mental stimulation, how can we expect any other outcome other than insanity? While many taxpayers object to the thought of money going to educate or help criminals, I think it should be looked as an investment for an individual to hopefully be able to contribute to society in a positive way someday.

It's interesting to see how positively some criminals react to educational programs, and even interraction with animals, as I have seen in documentaries. It seems that some are simply lacking a purpose and direction in their lives. Sadly, sometimes it takes going to the slammer to find meaning to their lives. But those are the lucky few, I think.

As you said, if society can't execute a person within a few months, how does it get any better or easier after 15 years? And in those rare cases where a death row inmate seems to have sincerely repented, reformed and "found God," it makes it all the more pointless to execute them, in my opinion.

Mormon Heretic said...

Regarding the Death Penalty, once again I'm torn. In theory, I support it. In practice, it is applied so inequitably, that it almost seems better to ban it.

My brother had a college professor who spoke about the death penalty, and I think my position is similar to his. As Dennis says, the people who get the death penalty are poor minority men. All other groups do not receive it in the same proportion. It appears that the death penalty is applied more often to people who cannot afford good lawyers, than to hit men, or mafia bosses. Frequently, these types of people do not even serve significant jail time, let alone get the death penalty.

Unless we can get these inequities solved, I lean against the death penalty. My exceptions would be ones where the accused admits to his guilt, or it is so obvious, as in the case of Saddaam where there was overwhelming evidence. Even DNA evidence is not always clear and convincing evidence to me. Some of those "Unsolved Mysteries" type shows on cable show where DNA evidence has been misused.

While it is nice to have it completed quickly as Dennis suggests, there are countless examples of poor inmates getting framed for capital crimes, and getting released 30 years later when some competent defense attorney finally gets some DNA evidence exonerating the person. While I agree that quick executions are what we would like, reality says that there are still miscarriages of justice.

I'm sure my opinions don't represent the majority of LDS opinions, but they do represent me, my brother, and a professor at Weber State.

I am not aware of Joseph Smith's comments on educating prisoners, but it sounds like a wonderful idea. The correctional system just breeds harder criminals and perpetuates crime.

There is a study going on at the Univ of Utah looking at the mental health system. In reality, many people in need of mental health get locked up in jail, so the study is focusing on mentally ill inmates. The jail system is essentially the mental health system in the US.

People prefer to lock up people than to look at the causes of why people are in jail: poor education, poor mental health, and being poor in general. If we could eliminate these 3 problems, we could probably start tearing down many of the jails we have, and wouldn't have the overcrowding problems that we are experiencing.

It sure sounds nice to be "tough on crime", but shouldn't it be better to prevent crime from happening?

The Faithful Dissident said...

Good point, MH. It would be interesting to know the actual statistics of how many prisoners have a mental illness. I bet the figure would be staggering.

Mental health is one of those things that always gets pushed aside. Since it's not usually an illness that manifests itself in the same way as a physical illness, resources often go to physical health care first and then mental illness comes a very distant second. And when left untreated, the consequences can be devastating and costly to individuals and a society.

I remember hearing a statistic a few months ago on a US prison documentary that if the percentage of Americans entering prison continues at the current rate, then the entire population of America will be behind bars by 2050. :)

According to a quick Google search:

"More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more, according to a report released yesterday. With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.

The growth in prison population is largely because of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been particularly affected: One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group."

You can read that source here at The Washington Post.

As Americans, do you think that you guys have anything to learn from Canadians or Europeans, who don't have the right to bear arms like Americans do? In Norway, not even the cops carry guns (although there has been talk of this changing) and still it has probably one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. And yet, when it comes to American crime, I think that is has more to do than with simply the accessibility of guns.

Dennis said...

MH,

"While it is nice to have it completed quickly as Dennis suggests, there are countless examples of poor inmates getting framed for capital crimes, and getting released 30 years later when some competent defense attorney finally gets some DNA evidence exonerating the person. While I agree that quick executions are what we would like, reality says that there are still miscarriages of justice."

Yes, this is exactly my point. If we are not confident that a person would NOT receive an exoneration later, then we shouldn't give them the death penalty. (Really, the whole Saddam Hussein situation was the ideal death penalty situation. He was clearly guilty of atrocious crimes and he was put away very quickly.)

FD and MH:

Prison life is a fascination for me, so I'm happy to weigh in on a few things you have said.

First, let me recommend three books about the complications of prison life and the penal system: Newjack, by Ted Conover (Conover is a journalist who became a correctional officer for one year in the New York's infamous Sing Sing prison); Life Without Parole (I forgot the author's name, but it is written by an inmate in prison for life without parole for a murder that he continues to claim he is innocent for); and Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault (an intriguing philosophical history). From my experience in the big house, these books definitely ring true.

Because I was a psychology technician at a prison, I am also very interested in mental illness issues in prison.

I sympathize with MH's statement, "The jail system is essentially the mental health system in the US." But this is certainly an overstatement, unless you're talking about psychopaths.

I think the reason we've sided in the U.S. so far to the "tough on crime" side of the pendulum is because this is what voters want. Voters are deceived into thinking that the number one role of a prison is to keep people locked up. This is complete fantasy, considering that most people are in prison for a few years (at a time). When a person is qualified for release, there is only one requirement: they need to have a ride away from the prison. No wonder they come rolling back around a few months later.

Regarding your question, FD:

"As Americans, do you think that you guys have anything to learn from Canadians or Europeans, who don't have the right to bear arms like Americans do? In Norway, not even the cops carry guns (although there has been talk of this changing) and still it has probably one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. And yet, when it comes to American crime, I think that is has more to do than with simply the accessibility of guns."

I think we do have a lot to learn from Europeans, but I'm not sure how much it has to do with gun laws. I think the problems stem primarily from strict and unbending sentence requirements for drug users and dealers (number one reason for overcrowded prisons), without trying to get more at the root of this problem. As well as the idea that the only kind of punishment is incarceration. There are lots of other ways to punish people -- in some cases, making them get a job would be much more of a real punishment. We should be exploring more corrective punishments that both deter crime and help the offender. In this regard, there needs to be better halfway programs. Lots of inmates actually do quite well in prison -- some vow to change their life, to not be a criminal anymore, etc. But then they get back on the streets and with their old friends. They often have nowhere to go (their families have often, understandably, disowned them) and nothing productive to do.

Regarding mental health treatment, I agree that it is not given the priority of medical treatment. But in many cases the two converge. Everyone gets adequate mental health treatment when it comes to medications. But medications do not cure mental health issues for people whose lives are completely out of whack. It's really a lazy solution that does little if any good -- and arguably is harmful in some cases. From what I've seen, the psychotherapy and counseling that inmates receive is definitely second rate. Moreover, mental health professionals are hesitant to experiment with more existential, meaning-making approaches. I think that this kind of approach is exactly what is needed in prisons.

Dennis said...

Oh, I wanted to say one other thing. I was reading in 3 Nephi 30:2, where the Lord commands the Gentiles to repent of a number of sins -- including murder -- and to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and receive a remission of their sins.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Good point, Dennis. That scripture reminds me of the Mormon film "States of Grace" or "God's Army 2." Have you seen it? Remember when the former gangster gets baptized? During the baptismal interview, it's implied that he's guilty of some very serious sins. It can only be assumed that he had taken part in murders, which is not unlikely since he was a gangster. I remember thinking about that when I was watching it and wondering to myself whether someone who had committed murder would really be able to get baptized.

Back to the topic of jails, I've found the jail system here in Norway to be kind of amusing. I'm not sure whether you have anything in the US to compare. Besides the type of violent criminals who are locked up, it seems to me that most non-violent offenders serve time at a detention centre where they can actually leave during the day, but only to go to work. They have a curfew and I don't think they're allowed a normal social life, but they go to work, come back to "prison," and have to fulfill certain duties or chores there. One of these "prisons" is not too far from where we live.

I found this interesting article which gives you an idea of the Norwegian prison system philosophy.

As far as guns in Europe is concerned, there is a raging debate about that going on in Finland now. If you've been following the news, you may have heard that there have been 2 major school shootings there in the past year or so. It's come as a shock to a nation which is normally as non-violent as Norway and Sweden, the difference being that Finland has the most guns per capita than any other European country, probably due to its hunting culture, and that they are much more accessible to Finns. Norwegians are also avid hunters, but the gun laws are apparently more strict here. (I can't imagine that too many people here have a gun -- or can get one -- unless they take courses and have a hunting license). So I suppose that is a debate that the Finns have to examine, much like the US has in light of all the school shootings there.

Anonymous said...

Doctrine & Covenant 132 is fabricated to justify polygamy and was not added in to the other scriptures until 1857. It was never written by Joseph Smith and is NOT scripture. Besides, it contradicts the Book of Mormon dramatically which states in Jacob 2:23-24 that "David and Solomon had many wives and concubines and this is ABOMONABLE unto me, saith the Lord." The scripture just before this one mentions that "my people do not understand the scriptures." It is the same today. Without spiritual discernment preceeded by historical research, we believe the fabrications and religious dogma used to control the people by even "the Lord's Prophets who he warns us many times can lead "my people astray" (do a scripture search!).
The Book of Mormon was altered (over 2,000 changes) with the 2nd printing in 1837. The plain and precious truths were taken out as prophesied in 1 Nephi 13, etc. The identity of God was changed (Mosiah 15:1-5, Ether 3:14, and Alma 11:23-40 and the first 40 pages of the original Book of Mormon and the first version of the First Vision was altered from one God e.g. Jesus Christ, yea the Eternal Father to two Gods). Research it out and find the truth as the apostacy of the church after the restoration was also prophesied in the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi with the "one mighty and strong" who comes after Joseph Smith who unbeknowst to ignorant LDS members did repent of polygamy and masonry!
D. Michael Quinn’s historical research into the early years of the church found that Joseph Smith repented of polygamy weeks prior to his assassination by burning the original polygamy manuscript with his first wife Emma and telling the Quorum to burn their Masonic temple garments and to stop practicing polygamy.
June 10, 1844: “Hyrum (Joseph’s brother) tells Nauvoo City Council that the 1843 revelation pertains to ancient polygamy, not to modern times…”
June 20, 1844: “Smith writes the apostles to return to Nauvoo immediately and instructs them to destroy their endowment undergarments.” (SIDE NOTE: Satanic/Masonic/Blood Oath; Jesus taught to NEVER swear by our head, throat, by heaven or earth or else it comes from EVIL! ~ all temple recommend holders have sworn a blood oath of secrecy e.g. Moses 5:29)
June 23, 1844: “…Joseph and Emma Smith burn the original manuscript of the 1843 polygamy revelation” (Quinn 645-46).