I have recently been serving on Jury Duty for Deschutes County here in my hometown of Bend. I naively went tripping off to 'do my duty' two weeks ago. The first trial I sat on was for shoplifting from Costco. There were some unpleasant moments, but for the most part everything went smoothly and I think that justice was served. Then this week things changed. I went through an all day jury selection process for a lengthy trial involving 8 counts of sodomy. In the end 14 jurors were selected, and I was not among them. God had protected the innocent yet again. I sat there all day thinking of how I had gotten myself into this, and there was no way I wanted to sit on this jury for a month and hear the testimony forthcoming. The thinking process then began...and it has led me to thinking out loud on this blog this morning, and hope you will bear with me.
First of all, did you notice one thing on the picture above? The jury consists of men only. When our forefathers believed passionately about every person's right to a trial by a jury of their peers, they were talking about men. Juries in all centuries before the 20th, consisted of people who had the right to vote. That meant men, and usually only landowners. They knew what we have forgotten...namely that heads of households (or grown sons) went to serve the cause of justice, and in the meantime protected their wives and daughters.
Now, in our day and age, this concept has long been abandoned. Women are the equal of men right? We deserve the right to vote, and the responsibilities that come with that, right? No, I don't think 'right'. People have scoffed over the years that I am very sheltered at home. Yes, I am and praise be to God for that. I will take being sheltered from sin and it's ugly devastation every time! I am OK with the idea of not voting. We do talk over the issues and candidates at home, and then the insurance man as representing our household will do the actual voting. It's taken me some time to think through that, having been raised that it my civic duty to vote, and women worked so hard to get the vote. But those women were feminists, devoted to the cause of equality for men and women. Is that what I believe, or want to promote? How about your thoughts here?
Now, having come to the conclusion that I should be protected from trials like the one I described, how best to go about that? In talking with Julie and her husband Peter who is a Pastor, we realized that older women are more vulnerable to jury duty. Julie would fill out an excuse form that she is needed as her children's teacher, and be excused. Older women are summoned more frequently as retired or more available. It is difficult at best to be excused if you are not working or otherwise needed. So, what are the consequences of not agreeing to jury duty. Well as I am writing, Peter is looking into the legalities of refusing to serve. What are the laws, and when can you lawfully ask to decline...if there is such a time. While I am waiting on that, I was thinking of the process I went through. Once you are in a pool of potential jurors, you have no say in what trial you are assigned to, and you do not know until entering the courtroom what kind of trial it is to be. After the attorneys begin their questioning however, they usually give potential jurors the right to express their feelings about serving on the jury. This could be a good time to speak up about moral objections to the trial and sitting on the jury. It retrospect I wish I would have spoken up at that time. No one else did for moral reasons, and I know of at least one other Christian woman who was selected for that trial. I am praying for her and for God to protect her mind and heart.
As I didn't speak up, I believe God shielded me, and I thank Him for that. But for next time I or one of my daughters is summoned, I do want to be prepared with my beliefs on exposing women to terribly sinful situations.
I realize that not all women have a head of household to protect them, or step in the gap. And yet, I believe that should be the role of Christian men in the church...to fill that gap for single, divorced or widowed women. Let me be very clear on one thing...I do believe the person on trial in the above mentioned case should be tried for the things accused of him, and if found guilty sentenced. I just don't want to be there to hear the trial and it's evidence. I wouldn't want the insurance man to have to sit through it either, but that is the role God gave him as the head of our household..to protect us women and deliver justice when necessary. Today I am back to enjoying beauty in my home, duties and outside my windows in God's creation...thanks to a God who protects and defends.
What do you think? I would welcome comments and thoughts on this issue.