Many who support the death penalty point to their belief that having the death penalty deters murder. Statistics to support this belief are inconclusive. In fact, according to some studies I reviewed, murder rates are higher in states where the death penalty is in effect. To me, the best deterrent is allowing citizens to carry protection, but that is for another day. Killing an intruder in self-defense is different from murder.
Proponents who say that the Bible supports capital punishment will point to many Old Testament passages and even to the apostle Paul to support their position and yes, they make some compelling points. My position on this often debated issue will not be popular amongst the GOP and most pro-life advocates. At first, I was filled with thoughts of ‘an eye for an eye’ to ‘murders should get what they deserve’. However, as I researched and thought about the issue of capital punishment, I slowly began to look deep within me. Murder is the taking of innocent life. I asked myself, ‘if I believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent life then is the woman having the abortion committing murder? Governmental laws and Supreme Court decisions aside, if I conclude that she is committing murder, than can I conclude that she is not any different than someone who shoots and kills a family in a theater; thus, is she subject to the death penalty? This question sent me deeper and deeper into thought. To answer this question, I looked to studies, the Bible, and current laws on the subject. It was not until I looked to Jesus did I find my answer.
As a Christian, I know that there is both good and evil in this world. And, until the second coming of Jesus, these two factions of light and darkness will be in a constant battle. God forgives individuals, but not evil. He teaches us to distinguish the evil act to whom he offers the possibility of changing. We tend to identify the sinner with his sin; however, God instead sent his Son into the world to offer everyone a way to salvation.
Jesus once served as a one-man judge and jury on a death-penalty case. An adulterous woman, a capital offense at that time, was dragged to Jesus’ feet by the local legal scholars of the day. Jesus responded: “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” (note: I believe that the sin He referred to was the sin of adultery and not sin in general). One by one, the Pharisee’s left, leaving only the woman and Jesus. Since Jesus was without sin, he was perfectly legal in the law of the day to carry out the execution. However, He forgave her and told her to sin no more. To me, Jesus was teaching that only a perfect being—God—should have power over death and life.
While on the cross, Jesus looked at the two thieves on either side of him with compassion, not condemnation. Even in the midst of Jesus’ suffering, when all dignity was stripped from Him, our Lord looked down on the soldiers who had beaten him and on the crowd that was mocking him and cried out to His Heavenly Father, asking for forgiveness .
We are charged with burying the dead and comforting those who mourn. Instead of yelling in an anger-filled rage “kill him” or “wanting revenge against a murderer”, Christians must be a positive, glowing light in this world. After the storm passes, the sun shines. Christians must help others get through the storms.
Choose life in all respects. Combat evil. Lead people to Christ through your actions as we are in a constant battle between good and evil.
God is the giver of life and only God can take it away. Because of this, I oppose the death penalty.
Believe.Act.Serve, like Jesus did.
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