Sunday, April 06, 2008

Voluntary Justice (2) Tribal Culture

The system of law and judges established by God functioned effectively in Moses time, because he was part of a trouble culture. Although, most people no longer live in a tribal culture, the experience is worth studying, because it shows how a voluntary system of judges can work. We should also not that the modern drive to destroy tribal culture and replace it with nationalism and democracy has made it harder to operate a biblical system of justice. That is why God blessed a tribal culture (Deut 33) but never blessed democracy. Tribal cultures are conducive to a system of law and judges, whereas democracy establishes justice by force, which God hates.

Tribal societies can be quite fluid, but a persons place in society is established by submission to the tribal leaders. They can change to a new tribe, if they submit to the leaders that tribe, but they cannot have the benefits of belonging to a tribe, if they will not submit to the authority of the tribal leaders. This free submission to tribal authorities makes the system of law and judges work.

Members of a tribe would be expected to submit to the judgment of judge that their family or tribal leaders recognise as being wise. If the accuser was a member of the same tribe, the tribal leaders would demand that the two sides to the dispute get things sorted so that the tribe would not be divided. The accused person could not continue to enjoy the blessings of tribal membership and refuse to go to a judge recognised by their tribe.

If the victim of the crime belonged to another tribe, their tribal leaders would come to the tribal leaders of the accused person and ask for the issue to be sorted. They would agree on a judge that both tribes respected. If the accused person refused to submit to this judge, the elders would say,

This accusation could be true. We want to stay at peace with your neighbouring tribe, so we want you to submit to a judge, and get things sorted. If you do not trust the suggested judge, we will find one that we all recognise as being reliable and honest. If you refuse to the judge, you will lose our protection and oversight and become an outlaw from your family and tribe. We are not prepared to put our tribe at risk of attack, because you are willing to appear before a judge.
The accused person would have no choice but to submit to judgment. To ensure they continue to receive the benefits of being part of their family and tribe, they will freely submit to judgment.

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