Capitol Punishment: Justice or Cruelty
Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man Genesis 9:6
Years ago I once served in a jury selection for a case involving murder. During the selection the prosecuting attorney asked each one of us that if they found the accused guilty, this would mean the death penalty and they asked us how we felt about it. To my surprise, many of the people responded that they could not support the death penalty because they were Christians and it violated their faith. That was strange to me because I always thought that the Bible not only taught the death penalty, but it had it’s origins from the Bible.
First, let’s remember that it does not matter what anyone thinks, including myself. What really matters is what God’s word reveals about this subject.
Why didn’t Cain die for killing his brother?
Many will use this argument and say Cain was not killed so why do we execute murderers? First of all, the institution of the family was the only authority God had set up at that time, if Cain was killed, it would have been an example of family executing people and that is not what God ordained. Not until after the Flood was the institution of Government set up to deal with this instruction. In the procedure of Capitol Punishment it was to be done by man.
After the children of Israel left Egypt and received God’s Law, we find further instructions by God that required the government to execute the death penalty.
These are just a few of the crimes that God deemed worthy of death.
• Murder – Genesis 9:6, Ex. 21:12, Lev. 24:17
• Hit or Cursing your Parents – Ex. 21:15, 17
• Kidnapping – Ex. 21:16
• Owner of an ox that has failed to keep him locked up and he kills someone – Ex 22:19
• Bestiality - Ex. 22:19
• Sacrificing to other gods other than Jehovah God – Ex. 22:20
• Not honoring the Sabbath – 35:2
• A rebellious and stubborn son – Deut. 21:20
• Homosexuality – Lev. 20:13
• Incest – Lev. 20:12
• Blasphemy – Lev. 24:16
• Adultery – Lev. 20:10
One of the purposes of the Law is to reveal sin (Romans 7:7). If we were to look at every one of these and others all of us would be guilty in one way or another of the death penalty. That is why Jesus Christ, God’s son came to earth to be a ransom for sin and he was nailed to the cross and died. Three days later he rose from the dead and those who trust him as Lord and savior shall receive eternal life.
When a nation like ours which started out as a Christian nation pulls away from it’s morality, it begins to justify immorality. With each generation it will only become worse unless a reformation followed by revival comes and reverses it.
Did you know that our Constitution was based on the Bible and it calls for the death penalty in the case of treason?
What Does the New Testament Teach?
Many believers will be quick to say that the Institution of Capitol Punishment only applies to the Old Testament. With concern others ask what if someone killed your son and he was being released because of a technicality, would you be justified by killing him?
First of all, God’s word says vengeance is his and he will repay, it is not up to us. Secondly, as hard it might be, we would need to forgive the person for want they did, but we cannot pardon them. That is up to the courts and Almighty God. If the courts let them go, they will give an account to God one day whether it was just or unjust.
Jesus spoke concerning the judgment of civil law:
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment..." Matthew 5:21-22
This passage identifies one person murdering and even being angry with another person. During Jesus’ day he accepted the judgments for killing a person, therefore, Jesus approved of the death penalty, because he upheld the validity of the Mosaic Law. Not even one minor point was to be ignored. For example, Jesus said "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled Matthew 5:18 19.
What about the Adulterous Woman
In John 8:1-11 the religious leaders brought a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery to Jesus for judgment. Since she was caught in the act, where was the man. They did this to trick him, but Jesus spoke in a way that her accusers walked away. When Jesus asked her where her accusers were and was she condemned, the woman responded that she had not been condemned (convicted). By this, even though she was worthy of death, she had not been convicted. Jesus at that point did not violate the Law of Moses by showing mercy. He simply commanded her to go and sin no more.
God’s word tells us about how we should respond to the civil authorities which includes Capital Punishment:
"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."
The sword is a symbol of the Judicial Punishment Governments power to use capital punishment. Paul understood and even agreed with the death penalty when he said:
"For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar." Acts 25:11
What Paul is saying here is very clear. He says, "If I have committed a crime deserving of the death penalty then I will not fight it.
Why are those who are against it?
People are against it because either that is the way they were brought up or because they are ignorant of the facts. The scriptures tell us that “there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end our the ways of death
The Bible also tells us that we are not to learn the ways of the heathen (Jeremiah 10:1-5) The foundation of the reasoning behind doing away with the death penalty came from such men as Voltaire, Montesquieu and Bentham, who were Atheists, who were strongly against Christianity. Since Capitol Punishment was from the Bible, they attacked it. Then when Cesare Beccaria’s Book “On Crimes and Punishment”, The way was paved for those who would seek to rid society of it.
Isn’t amazing that when our courts were taking out prayer, Bible reading, Creation out of our public institutions. It was at this time that they outlawed Capitol Punishment only to bring it back. Some people have chosen to speak out against the things that God had ordained. There are those we look to as role models and even as sincere as they may be, they must realize they will have to give an account to God for their error. (Matthew 5:19)
One such misunderstanding comes from the daughter of Martin Luther King, whose father was murdered.
"Having lost my father and grandmother to gun violence, I will understand the deep hurt and anger felt by the loved ones of those who have been murdered. Yet I can't accept the judgment that their killers deserve to be executed. This merely perpetuates the tragic, unending cycle of violence that destroys our hope for a decent society." Rev. Bernice King
In her statement, she has indicated that she has forgiven the man responsible for this act and that is a good testimony, but it is not for us to pardon such people, but the authorities that God has ordained. Even Paul taught in Romans 13:1 That we are to be subject to our authorities. Paul was under Roman law, and he was put to death even when he was not worthy of such a punishment.
You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …
How does anyone get to heaven?
First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13