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Because I love this great country of America, I occasionally decide to fund it all by myself. This time, it wasn’t in the form of a soup kitchen or a charity auction, but in the form of a speeding ticket. And because I didn’t get my “showdown lawyer defense of myself” time in court to explain the extenuating circumstances (because apparently real court is different than Law and Order), you are subject to it now.

I would only like the court to recognize that the location where I was stopped, between the corner of Empire and Culver and 590 south, has a steep downward grade, and that therefore gravity was pushing with greater force on my foot, and I have supremely weak ankles that just couldn’t fight the force pushing them to the floor…and that was the cause of my speeding.

But to be fair, they were pretty nice. I showed up to court, and Judge Valentino told me that they were offering me no points on my license for a 2-point offense. I had to pay the $50 fine with a $93 surcharge (if I was satisfied with the rest, and I was, that was the only part that sounded like shit shadier than an oak tree.) Here’s where the thought about God’s grace comes in.

Supposedly, the greatest story that Christians tell is the one about how Jesus came to be sacrificed for us. Jesus came and took our place for the punishment that we deserved, and I understand that Christians praise it because of its necessity, but they do not necessarily think of it as a “good” thing. But now that we understand each other, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Christians believe that that is something we should be “happy” about. We should be joyful because of that sacrifice.

But that’s not how justice worked in Judge Valentino’s court. When I went up to the stand, and he told me that what they were offering to remove the points on my license, that was it. The fine and the points were seperate, so I wasn’t paying that fine to get them removed, it would’ve been there regardless. He just meant that the points were gone.

Also, note what he didn’t mean. He didn’t mean that the points were going to be held and if I didn’t pay the fine, they would be applied, like the concept of sin overtaking you, even with Jesus’s sacrifice, if you remove yourself from God. He also didn’t mean that he was taking those two points and applying them to the license of someone who had never sped in their life, as God did with Jesus.

Often times, I find that the Christian model of sin follows the scientific concept of matter and energy, in that they both say: “Welp, it’s gotta go somewhere.” They think of original sin in terms of what Adam and Eve saddled the rest of us with, and that God can’t simply erase or forgive it without going through the proper channels. But considering that moral laws or absolutes are different than matter and energy, allow me to ask the most scientific question there is: “Why?”

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

It sounds kind of nice at the end, but you kind of have to ask: Who set the wages? And why can’t the gift of God simply be eternal life? Why does his plan require (innocent) suffering?

In this instance, it was Judge Valentino that set the wages. And when he decided to pardon the points, there were no strings attached. Now that’s what I call grace.

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