Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Biblical Defense of the Death Penalty

Capital Punishment is an area of high dispute amongst Christians. Some believe that since it involves the killing of a human being, it is wrong. Those who stand opposed to the death penalty use the sixth commandment: "thou shalt not kill" as their platform. Others, like myself, think that the death penalty does not stand against the Word of God.

The following will be a Biblical case for the death penalty.

First, why is a death penalty needed?

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. -Ecclesiastes 8:11

If an evildoer is not punished, he will continue to commit evil deeds without fear. Now if a criminal realizes there is a punishment behind murder, he will be less likely to commit it.

Secondly, does the Bible commend the death penalty in any way?

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;- Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

There is a time to kill. A time for the authorities to exact punishment on the wicked.

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.-Romans 13:4

In this chapter, Paul is talking about governmental authority. And he warns, that the authority "beareth not the sword in vain". "The sword" was the means of execution. ( Acts 12:2) Paul tells us that it is the government's JOB to punish the offenders.

For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die...
-Acts 25:11

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. -1 Peter 2: 13-14

Clearly, the Bible supports government and it's job to punish the wicked. ( As a side note: At the time that this was written the chief means of punishment were flogging and execution)

And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.- Luke 23:41

On the cross, the criminal ( along side of Jesus) knew that he had committed many sins and deserved this punishment.

The sixth commandment speaks of murder. We are not to take justice into our own hands, it is the authorities job to deal out punishment to criminals. Paul admitted in Acts 25, if he committed anything worthy of death then he should be put to death. Punishment and murder are two different things. Murder comes from hate, and a desire to harm someone. Murder is when a person takes the law into their own hands. Murder is obviously, against the Word of God. But punishment, is instituted by God. Punishment ( by the proper authorities) and after a fair trial is Biblical.

Now- how capital punishment should be brought about- and- for what crimes should capital punishment be put into effect- are other questions. Murder and rape are two crimes that should be punishable by death.

The death penalty should not be used "frivolously"....only when necessary. It takes a good, Christian-based government to be able to deem out capital punishment when most needed. Fortuantely, the US has a ( somewhat) Christian-based government with a very fair and just set of laws. Although in my opinion, the death penalty is not used often enough, the US justice system is probably the best in the world. And we should thank the Lord for that!

Any thoughts?

14 Comments:

  • Good post.....again!! :-)

    By Blogger Kaitlin, at 11:50 AM  

  • I totally agree with you that the death penalty is biblically supported. Wonderful post- very well articulated!

    By Blogger Lindsey, at 4:34 PM  

  • "Any thoughts?"

    None to add that you didn't cover! Excellent, very well put together post. :)

    By Blogger pete, at 6:25 PM  

  • Good post!!

    By Anonymous Vevy, at 4:02 PM  

  • ...so the other verses supercede in authority over the 'thou shall not kill" command. Hmmm..

    By Anonymous Fakye, at 2:21 PM  

  • What would you say to the innocent man who is put to death for a crime he did not commit? Do you beleive that government is perfect? It is my firm beleif that government should not be allowed to determine wheter a man lives or dies, because people(unlike God) can be corrupted. Only God should decide who lives and who dies.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:43 PM  

  • I don't believe the government is perfect. Only God is perfect. He didn't commit any crimes either and he was put to death horribly. I say stay away from the appearance of evil and you will stay out of trouble.
    Margaret

    By Anonymous Margaret, at 6:37 PM  

  • whoever the anonymous at 2:43 pm was, I totally agree with you and not the person who wrote this page!
    If you see this please comment me back!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 PM  

  • Well said. To the naysayers, back up your answers with scriptures. God knew men and the governments they formed would be imperfect yet He still supported the use of the death penalty as scripture clearly shows. And finally my question to you in regard to your implied concern for innocent life - where is your concern for the life of the next would-be victim?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:36 PM  

  • I have several comments to make, so I'll post them separately.
    1) "Thou shalt not kill" is a poor translation. Taken literally, that would mean Don't eat carrots because a carrot is a living thing. All animals kill plants, microbes and/or other animals as a normal part of staying alive. A correct translation would be, "Do not murder," meaning do not kill a human being unjustly. So the question is, is it ever just to kill a human being as a consequence of his or her actions?

    By Blogger arnold e. karr, at 3:04 PM  

  • "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.-Ecclesiastes 8:11"

    This is the argument from deterrence and it sounds reasonable. Surely rational people will not do something that may lead to their own death. But as Sportin' Life sang, "It ain't necessarily so." Murder is not a rational act, at least in most cases. The murderer doesn't think like a law-abiding citizen and, therefore, may not be deterred by the same consequences. There are many statistical studies comparing states with and without the death penalty and the murder rate is significantly higher in those states that put people to death. Does this mean capital punishment is the cause of higher murder rates? There is not enough evidence to draw that conclusion, but it is pretty clear that capital punishment is not working as a deterrent.

    By Blogger arnold e. karr, at 3:15 PM  

  • "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;- Ecclesiastes 3:1-3"

    There are two problems with inferring that this is an endorsement of capital punishment. First, it does not say who or what there is a time to kill. It could be referring to the killing of animals for food, clothing, etc., not to mention warfare or self-defense. Second, if you interpret that as a command to kill on occasion, then one might as well say "a time to die" is a command to commit suicide if one believes it is ones time to die. The more obvious sense of the passage is that life consists of many conflicting situations and all fit into God's scheme of things, whether or not they are good in themselves.

    By Blogger arnold e. karr, at 7:01 PM  

  • "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.-Romans 13:4

    "Paul tells us that it is the government's JOB to punish the offenders."

    Incorrect: Paul makes no distinction between just and unjust governments. If he had, he probably would have identified Rome as a sometimes unjust government. His point here is that Christians are not to resist civil authority because it is God's place to deal with injustice ("Vengeance is mine, says the LORD." Rom 12.19) and, except in very rare cases, even an unjust government will not punish people arbitrarily if they mind their own business.

    By Blogger arnold e. karr, at 7:15 PM  

  • "Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'"

    Not only was Jesus rather intelligent mathematically for a carpenter's son, he also pointed out that you should never stop forgiving someone. I don't consider electrocution a form of forgiveness, personally.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 PM  

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