Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Voluntary Justice (5) Outlaw Communities

If a person convicted of a crime chooses to avoid justice by leaving their tribe, they could seek to join another. The problem is that most tribes would not accept someone with outstanding justice issues. The tribe would not want to offend a neighbouring tribe by harbouring a person who has refused to submit to justice. The person avoiding justice might not be able to find a tribe to join, because they would be treated as an outlaw.

Groups of people avoiding justice might come together and form a community of outlaws. These outlaw communities would be a terrible place to live, as the leaders of the community would those who have refused to accept justice. The strongest men would rise to the top, so the community would have only rough justice. Outlaw communities would be like self-run, self-funded prisons.

These outlaw communities would be like the Cities of Refuge established in Israel (Num 35:6-14). They were a place of escape for people with outstanding justice issues running away from their tribe.

Entry into an outlaw communities would be voluntary, because the only people entering permanently would be those escaping justice or refusing to submit to the leadership of their tribe. Some Christians enter temporarily to share the gospel and other tough people might visit regularly to trade. Other might call to visit relatives.

No outlaw would have to stay in an outlaw community, but they could only leave by going back to their tribe and accepting the consequences of the justice that that they had been avoiding. To leave the outlaw community, they would have to submit to justice in the community they had escaped.

The outlaw community would not be a happy place, so the cost of avoiding justice would be quite high. Most people would prefer to pay the penalties that had been imposed by the judge, so they could remain with their tribe. This would be a powerful incentive for the voluntary acceptance of justice.


Steve Scott said...

Not all outlaws (and therefore outlaw communities) would necessarily be bad. Many people are excommunicated from their communities for doing or believing things that are not evil. They are persecuted for things that are right because the community itself has established a twisted system of justice. The blind man in John 9 comes to mind. The persecuted outlaws could form a better community. Isn't this what the church is in many cases?

Ron McK said...

You are correct, Steve. Very good point.