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Fukuoka, Japan
Christian blogger, KJV Bible apologist, legal researcher, teacher, learner, family man, writer, entrepreneur, born Jamaican, son of the soil, traveler... it's complicated. "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 (KJV)

This Blog

"I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works." ~ Psalm 9:1 (KJV). This blog contains and explains the truth of God's Word. The Epignosis of the Word of God is what every servant of God must teach.

Friday, September 30, 2011

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: What does the Bible say about it?

There is much controversy over the issue of capital punishment throughout the world. Some countries like Canada, Dominican Republic and Germany have abolished it yet the debate rages on. In Jamaica the land of my birth, the death penalty (hanging by the neck until dead) is still good law even though it has not been used for many years now. There are many people who have been lobbying for the government to resume hanging simply because they want to tackle a growing crime problem.

I read an interesting article today about Capital Punishment and thought I would share it with my readers. The article highlighted the executions of Troy Davis, Lawrence Brewer and Derrick Mason, and discussed Capital Punishment from a Biblical perspective. I thought the article was well written and addressed some lingering questions I had about man's moral and legal authority.

So what does the Bible say about Capital Punishment? According to the article:

"The answer is “it’s complicated.”"

The article goes on to say:

"Capital punishment was a significant feature in the justice system of Old Testament Israel. Execution was called for in response to extreme civil crimes like murder and rape, as well as for offenses against God’s holiness, like false prophecy and witchcraft. There were mechanisms in place to avert the death penalty in some situations, and God sometimes spared the lives of people whose actions, legally speaking, would have otherwise meant the death penalty."

The article says that in the book of Genesis, God established a principle to address murder.

"The death penalty was never employed arbitrarily or frivolously. In fact, observing the use of capital punishment in the Old Testament actually shows us how precious human life is to God. Because human beings are image-bearers of God, murder was such a serious affront to both God and man that it had to be answered with the blood of the murderer. Genesis 9:6 suggests that this sense of justice is woven into the moral fabric of Creation."

While reading the paragraph above I was thinking: 'But what about Christ's sacrifice, grace, and mercy under the new covenant?' The article addressed this too:

"The New Testament adds important context to the topic but doesn’t clearly instruct us one way or the other regarding the death penalty. The apostle Paul acknowledges that wielding “the sword” is a legitimate exercise of government authority—presumably he is referring to its duty to punish criminals, with violence if necessary. On the other hand, many of Jesus’ actions and words, such as his foiling of the execution of the adulterous woman, suggest that mercy and humility should stay society’s killing hand. And of course, no Christian is unaware of Jesus’ own experience with capital punishment: he was the ultimate innocent victim of the government’s sword wielded unjustly."

The article concluded with a sobering statement:

"Regardless of our conclusions, Christians must make sure that Christlike values—justice, humility, and grace—motivate us, rather than vengeance or hate; and whether Christians choose to support or oppose capital punishment, we are all called to make sure that it is carried out justly and does not target innocent people."

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this. :)

ARTICLE: What does the Bible say about Capital Punishment?


Toyin O. said...

Yeah, that is a tough one, the old testament condones the eye for eye theory; but the new testament wants us to be subject to all authority, so if the authority of a state legalizes capital punishment, are we suppose to agree with that? There are always gray lines even in the bible:)

Denise Malafaia Cerqueira said...

Jesus was a victim of capital punishment. Although this penalty was actually requested by his own people. Worse, Insite, by those who knew the Scriptures and prophecy about the coming Messiah. They were the Jewish authorities, doctors in the prophecies.
It was, however, one type of criminal death.
But that reminds me that if he had not died, would we? We are who had to die. We were doomed, but he died for us while we were yet sinners.
We were killers. Equal to the many who are sentenced to death in many countries. Thus, if the court of God were lost. Those who favor the death penalty, would know that those are equal to God?
I am Brazilian, my nation and there is no death penalty, but the worst death penalty is one that violates the person when you decide not to believe in Jesus as Lord of your life to live.
It is worth remembering that those who came to steal, kill and destroy Satan was. Jesus came that all men life and had lots of life. Eternal life. So I think that if I know that Jesus came to give life, and that's what he did for me, I can not be favorable to you to take anyone's life. While there is life, there are chances that the man's finding life in Christ.
Thank you for visiting my blog brother's daughters Sarah, and be following us.
Grace and peace in Christ, the author and sustainer of life.

S. Morgan said...

Thank you both Toyin and Denise for your comments. God Bless you!!

I had a discussion with my sister about this post and I am sharing it with all my readers.

I believe my response to my sister's point will bring more clarity about where I stand on the issue of Capital Punishment and the perspective from which I wrote this post.

She said:

"This is not what I expected from your post. I'd love to hear what YOUR study finds. Still, I have to respond. It's my impression that the article you reference is another example of the Christian right's efforts to justify capital punishment--something that is used to subjugate and persecute those who are poor--those who do not make up the racial and/or ethnic majority. Why read "the sword" as literal? Why interpret "wrath" as killing? Should we also read “put on the armour of light” as literal? If it is not a spiritual metaphor then how, exactly, does one do that? Why hang on to that one verse when the one that is four verses away says “Thou shalt not kill”? I’m no biblical scholar—I’m just a fighter for human rights who likes to ask questions."

This was my response to her:

"Thanks for your comment/questions Shauna. Your analysis is always deep and I LOVE and value you (my PhD sister) and them.

I stand resolute in the belief that under Christ the New Covenant is grace and mercy for ALL, even the vilest of the vile. Even though the writer of the article seems to be subjective I presented my blog post as an objective non-subjective piece because I have not yet completed my ongoing study on God's Justice.

In a nutshell though, under the Old Testament, even though there was an annual atonement God still punished sin and rebellion with death. However, under the New Testament, through Christ and grace there is ALWAYS mercy for everyone.

I believe the principle of mercy in the New Testament supersedes the highest law of our land as well as man's moral obligation to punish death with death. I hope this comment clarifies my stance on this issue."

I also shared my sister's comments here because I want to give all my readers the benefit of other perspectives on this issue. :o)

God Bless You!!!