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Comments

Angel

I do not believe Christians should support the death penalty.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not purposing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (MKJV)

Romans 2:1-4 Therefore you are without excuse, O man, everyone who judges; for in that in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge do the same things.

But know that the judgment of God is according to truth on those who practice such things.

And, O man, the one judging those who do such things, and practice them, do you think this, that you shall escape the judgment of God?

Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Doug

I do not believe that Christians have the option of NOT believing in the death penalty for murderers. God said to do it, so it needs to get done.

Genesis 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.


I have found no where else in the Bible where He directly revokes this order.

Angel

Genesis 9 talks mostly of the covenant God had with Noah and while it is compelling, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." - Matthew 22:37-40 and he also said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." - Joh 14:15

And, how can we love our neighbor as we love ourselves if we kill our neighbor? The Apostle Paul was a murderer. He even said, "I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience, for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." - 1 Timothy 1:15-16

As followers of Jesus are we not to follow Christ first and the example He gave us?

Doug

"And, how can we love our neighbor as we love ourselves if we kill our neighbor?"

Capital punishment is just that: a punishment. Punishments can only be justly applied if we love the perpetrator enough to penalizing them for wrongdoings. According to Angel's post, should we forego all penalties for bad behavior? After all, would any except the masochists choose to punish themselves? If we avoid punishing ourselves because of self-love, how could we do it to them, since we are to love our neighbor as ourselves? This is a quick path to anarchy, and I think the fallacy of the argument is self evident.

"As followers of Jesus are we not to follow Christ first and the example He gave us?"

Absolutely, and, thusly, we should have enough love and respect for Him to be awed by His creation of man, and follow his orders to punish, according to His will, those who destroy that creation.


"Genesis 9 talks mostly of the covenant God had with Noah"

No, it was, and is, a covenant with all of us. Do we not still enjoy the promise that the world shall not be destroyed by water, again? God did not say "Any in your generation who sheds the blood of man...", or "Any who sheds the blood of man before the Messiah comes...", He said "Whoso sheds the blood of man..." That's anyone who murders, anywhere.

""If ye love me, keep my commandments." - Joh 14:15"

You prove my point. Christianity is not a faith where you can pick and choose which dicta to follow. We are to follow all his commands, including the killing of murderers. It is not an option. It is an obligation.

Angel

We can protect ourselves from our criminals by keeping them in jail. We don't have to kill them to do that.

"You prove my point. Christianity is not a faith where you can pick and choose which dicta to follow. We are to follow all his commands, including the killing of murderers. It is not an option. It is an obligation"

No, I did not. Until someone can point to me where JESUS said to execute murders, I will follow what I know Jesus actually said and the example He actually set. Jesus said He fulfilled the law and He paid the ultimate price for our sins, which was death. Jesus even asked God to forgive those that were killing him.

So, on this we will have to agree to disagree.

Doug

"We can protect ourselves from our criminals by keeping them in jail. We don't have to kill them to do that."

Any protective effect is a secondary benefit. The goal is a just retribution, the repayment of a debt incurred against not only the direct victim, but also all of society.

"Until someone can point to me where JESUS said to execute murders, I will follow what I know Jesus actually said and the example He actually set"

Do you deny that the words of God the Father and those of Jesus Christ are synonymous, and that Jesus is the Word become flesh? Where the Father speaks in the Old Testament, Christ speaks also.

"Jesus said He fulfilled the law"

Yes, He did fulfill the law. He did NOT do away with it. The ceremonies that foreshadowed the redemption of sin by Christ are no longer necessary since He has taken the actions necessary for our salvation. The moral absolutes He laid down as a cornerstone of those rites are eternal (Hebrews 13:8).

"Jesus even asked God to forgive those that were killing him."

That's true, but forgiveness does not absolve earthly punishment. If you have a child that lies to you, I'm sure you would forgive him. Does that mean, though, that you would not punish him for the misdeed?

Pandora

I agree with the lady. When Jesus came, things change. The OT was about the Jews, preserving their line so Jesus could be born from them, and showing man that he would never be able to save himself or make himself good enough. The NT is about Grace, being saved through Grace, and the love of Jesus. No where in the NT does Jesus advocate killing people. Even when the Jews brought him the adulteress and asked Jesus what to do with her (and the law of the Jews said to stone her - OT law), Jesus said that whomever had no sin could cast the first stone.

tertius

"Jesus said that whomever had no sin could cast the first stone."

The context of this statement by Jesus is not about the rights or wrongs of capital punishment, which by definition is legal retribution for law breaking. The application of it to the question of whether the State should prescribe or proscribe such punishment is bad exegesis - and wrong-headed. Indeed if we were to apply this "principle" broadly to the real world in which we live there would be a complete breakdown of law and order. No one could be penalised, punished or corrected over any wrongdoing because there would be no one else who meets the criterion of being "without sin" to pass judgement and impose punishment.

The invocation of scriptural statements such as: "Therefore you are without excuse, O man, everyone who judges; for in that in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge do the same things" also do not apply to the issue of the rights or wrongs of the use of capital punishment by the State. To do so would also destroy effective law and order.

One cannot build Biblical doctrines from the silence of Jesus, though the attempt is frequently made: one of the most recent examples is the line that "Jesus never said anything about homosexualty so therefore we have no right condemn homosexual acts." The lists of things Jesus never mentioned is by definition limitless. On the other hand the apostle Paul clearly affirmed the right of the State to "wield the sword".

"For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer."

Does Paul contradict Jesus here?

This is not an argument for capital punishment as much as a recognition that capital punishment for certain crimes was a fairly universal and historically accepted phenomenon in human societies.It is also a recognition that God has given Government a role to play in the administration of civil order, and that it can involve the use of the ultimate sanction.

Christians of good conscience can passionately argue for either side of this issue. There are many tensions and questions inherent in human existence for which there are no easy slick answers - from scripture or anywhere else. God in the OT specifically instituted capital punishment for certain offences, but does that mean that Christians are obliged to support those punishments in contemporary society?

On this issue there is no one specifically cut and dried correct Christian answer - all we can do is to try to "keep in step with the Spirit".

Jeremy Pierce

The passage about not casting the first stone isn't even in the oldest manuscripts, so it's not clear we should be as willing to base a whole doctrine on it. Most evangelical scholars don't consider it to have been part of John originally, even if some of them think it's authentic and God preserved it for a reason. That's reason enough to be at least hesitant in basing anything strongly on it.

What you can't say is that capital punishment is inherently wrong. A Christian cannot say that because it would make God a liar. God instituted capital punishment with Noah and continued it with Moses. He declares through Paul in Romans 13 that justice through the sword is the obligation of the state in serving the state's divine purpose. You might argue that our current setting doesn't require killing people to serve the purpose of justice that Paul referred to when saying the government is required to use the sword to pursue justice. You might argue that in our day in our setting it's carried out unfairly enough that we would be better not to do it but to pursue other means of trying to achieve the same goals. Both those points would require philosophical arguments and not biblical ones. What you can't say, biblically speaking, is that it's immoral in principle to kill people to serve justice. I think it's notable that John Paul II acknowledged this point in his opposition to the death penalty in any modern society.

Michael

I believe Angel is correct. While the OT tells us "an eye for an eye," we know the NT overrides that command in favor of forgiveness and love. Why should the command to put to death a murderer be any different?

Besides, it is our blessing to pray for the salvation of each of our fellow man. Sort of hard to do that after he's dead.

tertius

I heartily endorse Jeremy's comments. And much as I understand, appreciate and share the emotional responses of people like Angel and Michael on this issue, Evangelicals are surely required to think clearly, rationally and scripturally about any issue - that the mind as well as the heart should be engaged. Heart religion has always been the defining mark of Evangelicalism but this has to often been accompanied by denigration of reason and the mind. The conflict between mind-heavy Calvinism and heart-heavy Arminianism has a long history among Evangelicals, with the "spirituality of the heart" coming out tops. But God is the God of our minds not just our hearts. God gave us our reasoning ability as well as our feelings.

Western societies, as secular as they are (outside of the "Bible belt" of the USA), have drunk deeply from the wells of Christianity for 2000 years. They have drawn upon a heritage of piety focussed on spiritual and moral issues and transformed it into secular political and social activism thoroughly separated from its Biblical root. The entire soft Liberal Left agenda over the last century emerged from the beliefs and concerns expressed in the Chapel and the Manse but then was desacralised and secularised into socio-political agendas. Thus we hear much talk about, and legislation concerning, compassion, caring, tolerance, spirituality, peace, getting in touch with our emotions, - things that can’t really be legislated - but precious little evidence that people are any more inherently virtuous, humble and loving, that society is any more inherently just and fair, that our streets and neighbourhoods are inherently safer and more community minded. And we certainly lack any evidence that God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, is acknowledged and honoured within such societies.

What has this to do with the debate over the death penalty? A lot more than you may think...

Dory

I wanted to add a couple points on the John 8 passage. I believe Jesus was upholding the Old Testament law on death penalty for adultery, but was holding the accusers to the requirements of the law that they were ignoring.

First, Deut. 22:22 required that when a couple was caught in adultery, that both parties, not just the woman, be brought for justice. But this the scribes and Pharisees had failed to do.

Second, Deut 17:6-7 requires that there be two or three actual witnesses, and that it is those witnesses who should throw the first stones. Jesus asked that these witnesses step forward to cast the first stones, and also added that they be without sin themselves, warning that by the same standard this woman was being judged, they too, would be judged. Obviously every man there was either not an eyewitness or he was also guilty of adultery himself. No willing accuser remained and therefore no case could be prosecuted.

When Jesus forgave the woman's sins, He was not dismissing a civil case, as no such case remained. He was forgiving her sin in the redemptive sense, just as He forgives yours and mine.

Jesus did not refuse to apply the death penalty in this case, He merely demonstrated that the requirements for just application of it had not been met.

Andrew Nichols

Romans 13.1-4, already referenced by tertius, makes a conclusive case against those who claim that the death penalty was appropriate in the OT but not in the NT. Paul very clearly supports death as a penalty for crimes---not merely in a theocratic society like Israel, but also in a incredibly pagan society like Rome.

I like what Dory said about the woman-in-adultery,

Jesus did not refuse to apply the death penalty in this case, He merely demonstrated that the requirements for just application of it had not been met.

If there is anything that capital punishment in the United States can be attacked on it is this: our justice system, especially so far as it deals with capital cases, seems hopelessly racist and broken.

Marla Swoffer

Here are my Scriptural reasons against it:

http://www.marlaswoffer.com/blog/2004/11/the_death_penal.html

Stuart DiNenno

Doug wrote: "We can protect ourselves from our criminals by keeping them in jail. We don't have to kill them to do that."

"Until someone can point to me where JESUS said to execute murders, I will follow what I know Jesus actually said and the example He actually set."


If you follow this train of thought, then you cannot justify any kind of punishment for evildoers. After all, while it's true that Jesus never spoke of administering the death penalty to criminals, it's also true that he never spoke of prison sentencing for them, either. His ministry was concerned with sparing men from eternal, spiritual punishment -- not carnal, temporal punishment.

Also, it's inherently unjust to make taxpayers pay to support men during their years of idleness in prisons. For example, I have heard that it costs approximately $20,000 per year to keep a man in prison. With that in mind, consider the injustice in the following example:

A man goes on a bank-robbing spree during which he nets a total of $20,000. Then he is caught and sentenced to twenty years in prison. That prison term may teach the criminal a lesson and keep him off the streets, but it will also cost the taxpayers approximately $400,000. Even if the real amount is only half of that, the end result is that the state has effectively made him into ten times the thief that he was originally.

Phil

This is for anyone that thinks that life in prison is more expensive then the death penalty. Grant it paying for the person to live there for the rest of his life adds up to be a lot of money over a long period of time, but what did you add up for the death penalty? You might add up the cost of the drugs they use. Not very much at all. That it self is probably less than $50. You might have forgotten though the court costs. Since it is a capital case it is a high profile case and so it take years and years to settle. The average case takes around ten years. You might be thinking that the average prisoner that is getting the death penalty has all the money in the world. I'm sorry you're wrong on that one. That means we the taxpayers have to pay the years and year (remember average of ten years) of court fees. Not to mention the prisoner isn't going to want some lawyer that doesn't know anything. He wants the best lawyer our money can buy. So our money is paying for court fees, the high priced lawyer, oh and by the way living expences for the ten plus years they are waiting for the trial to finish. So would you rather just sentence them to life in prison or sentence them to basically no change in their life, except they have to go to court every now and then,and then finally after ten plus years they finally get on death row, which oh i forgot to mention takes another ten to twenty years. I know all what the Bible says I've read everything you guys have said. I'm just saying from an economic point of view if you thought it was cheeper to use the death penalty you are wrong.

Phil

This is for anyone that thinks that life in prison is more expensive then the death penalty. Grant it paying for the person to live there for the rest of his life adds up to be a lot of money over a long period of time, but what did you add up for the death penalty? You might add up the cost of the drugs they use. Not very much at all. That it self is probably less than $50. You might have forgotten though the court costs. Since it is a capital case it is a high profile case and so it take years and years to settle. The average case takes around ten years. You might be thinking that the average prisoner that is getting the death penalty has all the money in the world. I'm sorry you're wrong on that one. That means we the taxpayers have to pay the years and year (remember average of ten years) of court fees. Not to mention the prisoner isn't going to want some lawyer that doesn't know anything. He wants the best lawyer our money can buy. So our money is paying for court fees, the high priced lawyer, oh and by the way living expences for the ten plus years they are waiting for the trial to finish. So would you rather just sentence them to life in prison or sentence them to basically no change in their life, except they have to go to court every now and then,and then finally after ten plus years they finally get on death row, which oh i forgot to mention takes another ten to twenty years. I know all what the Bible says I've read everything you guys have said. I'm just saying from an economic point of view if you thought it was cheeper to use the death penalty you are wrong.

Stuart DiNenno

"So would you rather just sentence them to life in prison or sentence them to basically no change in their life, except they have to go to court every now and then,and then finally after ten plus years they finally get on death row, which oh i forgot to mention takes another ten to twenty years."

I would rather see someone given a fair trial and then, if he is found guilty, be taken out and executed the next morning.

Phil

What you don't seem to understand is that if the person is convicted he or she won't be executed the next day. They will sit on death row because there are people already on death row. It doesn't matter how bad the crime is they have to wait till there number cuomes up.

John

Sure. I think Christians should support the death penalty. God used death to deter individuals from doing wrong. For example, if Noah had not heard from God that he would destroy humanity, Noah would have joined the heathens in the flood. Deterrance worked for Noah. Of course, deterrance does not always work but it does for some. The death penalty should be kept around.

In addition to supporting the death penalty due to the benefits of deterrance one should support it because the justice system works. No one in contemporary society that has been innocent has been executed. Sure there are studies that show wrongful executions but those have not been part of executions that last 30 years. The justice system now works in terms of giving out death and justice. The justice system works so well now a days that people have been freed that were incorrectly convicted and sentenced to death. A poor justice system would have executed the innocent but this has hot happened.

If the justice system does not work or deterrance does not work, I would not support the death penalty. But so far I am not convinced.

Phil

I didn't say anything about getting rid of the death penalty. I am from Texas and we use the death penalty here. All I was saying is that it costs more to use the death penalty in place of life in jail. I wouldn't mind if the criminals with the worst records should be put on death row, not every person that happens to meet the qualifications to be sentenced to death. One problem I have with what you posted John is that no can know what Noah would have done if God didn't tell him to build the arc. The reason is because he did do it. The only person that knows both sides of the story all the time is God, and once we start saying this is what would happen if someone did this or didn't do that that means we are trying to put ourselves on the same level as God. No one can know what God's plan is so we don't know what happens in certain situations.

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