by David Sisler

From Rome to Virginia, people around the world asked that the life of Karla Faye Tucker be spared. Most of the pleas came on the basis of her "rehabilitation," forgetting that the prisons exist, or should exist, not to rehabilitate, but to punish. Ms. Tucker's last legal appeal argued that the commutation process was flawed and unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said there "is no constitutional right to clemency under federal law." On Tuesday night, in Huntsville, Texas, she paid the ultimate price for the two grisly murders she committed.

Karla Faye Tucker was hooked on heroine when she was ten years old, her introduction to drugs came from her mother. She sold her body for sex for years. In 1983 she killed Jerry Lynn Dean and Deborah Ruth Thornton. After a Texas jury found her guilty of murder and sentenced her to death, Karla asked for a quick execution of sentence. While awaiting trial, Karla Faye Tucker became a Christian, her dramatic conversion attested to by everyone who knew her.

Despite pleas of mercy from around the world, including Pat Robertson, an avowed death penalty proponent, and Pope John Paul II, the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles turned Tucker's request down. The vote was 16 to 0, with two members abstaining.

The day before she died, Deborah Thorton had argued with her husband and ended up in Jerry Dean's bed. Her husband, Richard, said, "The only reason this is even an issue is that Texas is known for protecting Mom and apple pie, and here comes Karla Faye Tucker, who's pleasant to look at, who can fit the mold of the pure Texas gal. Well, let's not forget that this same Miss Prim and Proper was swinging a pickax 14 years ago."

During a death row interview, Karla Tucker said, "This is not about me trying to save my life; this is about the power of God almighty to change a life. The world may not agree with that. They may not think I deserve that. And quite frankly, I don't deserve that. But it's a free gift from God. He gave it to me and I received it. We all have the ability, after we've done something horrible, to make a change for the good."

Everyone of us would like to know that when we are forgiven by the Lord that we then have a certain immunity from the consequences of that forgiven sin. We do not. I would to God that we did, but we do not.

There is such an incredible difference between the forgiveness of sin and the consequence of sin. The sin that God has forgiven, the sin that will never face us in the day of judgment, may be the sin that is before us for as long as we live. No one who places personal faith in Jesus of Nazareth, God's Son, will ever pay for a sin eternally. But there is no assurance from scripture that as long as we live, we will not endure the inevitable effects of the evil that we set in motion. No sin is private, no matter how much we may wish it were.

One of the Bible's greatest saints is also one of its greatest sinners. David was elevated by God from herding sheep to shepherding His nation, Israel. One day he came back to Jerusalem from a battle, went to the roof of the palace and looked out over the city. On the roof of an adjacent building a woman was taking a bath. David learned her name, sent for her and took her to his bed. In adultery, Bathsheba conceived a child, and to cover up their sin, David had Bathsheba's husband murdered.

When confronted by Nathan, God's prophet, David fell on his face and cried out, "Against Thee, against Thee only have I sinned O God, and done this great wickedness in Thy sight!" There was no mention of the dead husband, the violated wife, the betrayed nation. David instinctively knew what so many of us do not, all sin, whether we categorize it as large or small, is ultimately against the Lord. And the consequences of the sins we commit set in motion forces we may not be able to control.

Texas Governor George Bush could have pardoned Karla Faye Tucker, if the Board of Pardons and Paroles had recommended it, but that would only have meant she would have lived for perhaps another fifty years. The pardon she received at the foot of the Cross means that she will live forever.

God forgave David. God forgave me. God forgave Karla Faye Tucker. God will forgive you. The joy of the believer comes not from knowing that God will continue to forgive, but rather from living faithfully day by day, avoiding the natural consequences of sin.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 2/7/98

Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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