Capital Punishment

Only in the USA can you get away with being pro-war AND pro-death penalty, and yet call yourself pro-life.

– Hugh Hollowel


I’d love to hear your thoughts on a fb conversation I had today (that quote was my status.)  I’m M and the respondent is C:


(response)  C:  Yes we can! It makes perfect sense to us. It’s all about context.

M:  I am pro-life, and pro-war at times… but I am ALWAYS against the death penalty.

C:  There are times when a person’s crimes are so heinous that their debt must be the ultimate price.

M:  I can’t see how biblically we are given that option.

C:  Eternally/spiritually speaking, we all deserve to die. But by the grace of God, we also all have the option of receiving the gift of eternal life. The death penalty is about crime and punishment, not our eternal souls. Even Ted Bundy accepted the fact that his crimes deserved the death penalty–after he had accepted Christ as his Savior. I would have no problem sitting next to him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as my brother in Christ. But then again, I am not in charge of the seating arrangements 😉

M:  I’m not sure a human saying the death penalty is ok is a good argument for it. I can’t see any biblical precedent for us condoning the murder of anyone, regardless of their actions. And if you do, where do you draw the line? Surely it’s all subjective and everyone would draw the line in a slightly different place. Isn’t that why we ought to leave it up to God? We are not God and we don’t get to decide life or death decisions.

C:   There are many instances in the OT where God, Himself says that certain actions should be punished by death. Yes, as Christians, we live under the NT, but Jesus said that His did not come to destroy the law (i.e. OT) but to fulfill it. There are some things that are specifically addressed in the NT that are in contrast with the OT (i.e. Peter’s vision of being able to eat pork, etc.), but God has not abolished capital punishment. Each government–which only exists because God put it in place–decides what punishments are or are not appropriate to their societies. And Paul tells us that we are to submit to those governments. Not to mention the fact that murder and capital punishment are NOT the same thing

M:  I think that capital punishment is murder sanctioned by the state. Both are taking life. I think if we pick and choose which bits of the OT are still applicable and which aren’t (without explicit NT precedent) we are on a very slippery slope. Yes, Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it, but we must read what he spoke on. He talked about forgiveness under God, he talked about redemption. Never did he say anything which may have ever suggested that capital punishment is ok.

C:  The difference btwn murder and capital punishment is not simply a matter of taking a life. Forgiveness and redemption ultimately refer to our spiritual lives. I can live my life just fine in the physical sense without God’s forgiveness. But when it comes to my eternal soul, without Jesus, I’m a goner. I do agree that it is a slippery slope as far as picking and choosing which bits of the OT you want to use. But, in the same sense we can’t make arguments from silence–Jesus neither condoned nor condemned capital punishment. Therefore, I am not so dogmatic to say that you are wrong. I think there are good arguments for being against the death penalty.  Can we agree to disagree?

M:  Part of me understands your point of view, but I also think that it’s not ok to disagree. Most of the time I think it is, but when it’s a matter of life and death it’s not ok to agree to disagree. Well, it sort of is for us because we don’t make the laws. But it’s life and death, not some sort of minor issue. Even if you think capital punishment is ok (which I obviously don’t), how can you guarantee you won’t kill innocent people? You can’t. And not killing guilty people is worse thank killing innocent people. And I honestly can’t reconcile capital punishment with any of Jesus’ teaching. If you can point me to any passage that does, please do.


One Reply to “Capital Punishment”

  1. – 1108C

    It really doesn’t surprise me that the United States which isn’t a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has held people in “detention” for extended periods of time and subjected them to torture, would continue with the death penalty.
    Personally I think that if you have a state which can not be trusted to administer justice properly in the first instance, then it follows that they also can not be trusted to administer the prescribed consequences of that justice properly either.

    From a Biblical perspective, the nation of Israel was living directly under the rule of God when the laws which mention the death penalty were passed. You’d hope that such a nation could do its best in ensuring that the law was administered properly.
    I just don’t know if in a modern, secular society that almost refuses to acknowledge the existence of God let alone His law, whether its appropriate for a modern state to be trusted with such a thing.

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