When someone does us wrong, we want payback. We seek out whoever is responsible and make them suffer. This makes us feel good. Someone kills a member of our family, we kill one of theirs either directly or through capital punishment.
If we can’t find whoever is responsible for our pain, we designate someone and punish them accordingly. Terrorists destroy the World Trade Center, we actively assent to bombing a country that had nothing to do with it.
We don’t care if the right person is punished, or even if the pain we went through was just some freak accident and no one is responsible. A hurricane decimates New Orleans, we persecute the gays in hopes they commit suicide.
It’s not enough that our misfortune be rectified; someone has to pay for the temporary pain we experienced in the past. I steal your apple but immediately give it back, you punch me in the arm.
In the absence of an offense, we invent one. We need to suffer, so that we can experience the euphoric sense of balance that retribution offers. You post a harmless joke on Facebook, I take offense and post a comment calculated to make you feel ashamed.
Misery loves company and two wrongs always make a right. Imbalance struck, balance achieved. Yin, yang. Heaven, hell. Left hand, right hand. Light wave goes up, light wave goes down. In music: one, two, one, two.
In math: Integers not divisible by two are called “odd”–a synonym for “strange” or “unfamiliar”. Evenness is familiar and makes us feel safe and at home, just as we feel at home in our bilaterally symmetric bodies. Evenness–an equal distribution among two regions–fills us with the peace, tranquility, and goodwill we like to congratulate ourselves for.
Justice is not about fairness, not about merit. Justice is not a transaction between a legitimately injured party and the confirmed intentional aggressor. Justice is not about making an example of criminals as a deterrent to future crime. Justice is not about removing danger, minimizing threats, or reducing harm. Those are all secondary concerns serving to justify our primary objective: to achieve a sense of cosmic symmetry in the form of vengeance.
The Christ sacrifice, if we choose to believe in its essential purpose and get lost in the story of it, achieves the cosmic symmetry we crave deep down. It pays the debt we feel is owed to us for all real and perceived offenses committed against us by all entities past, present, and future. It was paid by a God who understood the social and psychological requirements of a depraved species. Vengeance is ours for now and all time. We got our proverbial head on a platter.
No further payment is required for our pain. This removes our need for retribution against innocent parties. It destroys our resentments against other humans, against nature, against inanimate objects, against the gods of our own devising. The infinite sacrifice makes us better people. It makes the world a better place.
Christ died for our sins, yes, and for that we can be grateful. But perhaps even more important is that he died for the sins committed against us. Know this, feel this, meditate and pray on this, and be at peace in the knowledge that balance is restored forever and ever. As one depraved human to another, I drink this cup of innocent blood and toast your joy.