Est. May 2008

11 December, 2014

Actually, It IS In The Bible

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty announced on Tuesday the launch of a new coalition uniting human rights organizations, religious groups, and pro-liberty advocacy groups to pressure state governments to put an end to capital punishment.
The religious groups include ‘the Christian social justice organization Sojourners, Catholic Mobilizing Network and the General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church’.  And Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, ‘believes that many conservative Christians are starting to signify their opposition to death penalty because capital punishment conflicts with the Biblical teachings. (emphasis mine).

However, capital punishment doesn’t conflict with biblical teaching; it’s found beginning way back in Genesis 9, it’s found throughout Mosaic Law, it’s defined in the book of Numbers, and Paul speaks of it in Romans.

After the flood, once God has released Noah and his family from the ark, He says to them:
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.  But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.  And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.  “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (verses 1-6, ESV, emphasis mine)
Mosaic Law gives us many indications of when capital punishment is to be applied (many of which are brought up by anti-theists and others and used as clubs against Christians).  The book of Numbers (Chapter 35 in particular) distinguishes between willful murder and accidental or involuntary murder, offering refuge to those who fall guilty to the latter.

Paul writes of the state’s responsibility to  maintain order, and speaks of the state ‘wielding the sword’.  Obviously, a sword isn’t used to spank miscreants, nor is it used like a ruler across the knuckles – it’s a symbol of deadly force – thus it indicates the state’s power to apply capital punishment.

So what causes the mental disturbance of some Christians is (or ought not to be) whether capital punishment is biblical or not – it is.  What causes it, I believe, is that, as Christians, we understand we are fallen and make mistakes, and none of us want to make a mistake which costs someone else their life.  This is the point brought up later in the article linked above:
Also speaking at the press conference was Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who said the American criminal justice system is filled with human imperfection and no court should have the right to issue a death sentence based off of the results from courtroom (sic)

The practice of government sponsored execution has no place in any civilized criminal justice system. No one knows better than criminal defense lawyers that the criminal justice system is fallible," Reimer asserted. "It is rife with human error at every stage, and it perpetuates racial and ethnic disparity. We simply cannot allow such a system to engage in the taking of human life." (emphasis mine)
An innocent person goes to death row.  Why?  Because their defense attorney failed to make an adequate defense.  This is why it’s usually defense attorneys who whine about the ‘fallibility’ and ‘imperfection’ of the criminal justice system.  But to mitigate against error, our criminal justice system seats twelve jurors chosen from a larger pool; by having witnesses offer testimony; by having such things as expert witnesses, preponderance of evidence, ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, and so forth.  When mistakes occur, they ought to be corrected as quickly as possible, but the simple fact that mistakes might occur is no reason to scrap the whole thing; if it is, then no verdict from any court is worth the air used to speak it or the paper it’s written on.

Both Mr. Reimer and Mr. Wallis bring up the alleged ‘racial disparity’ of people on death row; Mr. Reimer above, Mr. Wallis here:
"The single most important factor to who goes on death row is race. We can't accept that anymore.”
Other than the fact that I think judges, juries, police, detectives, crime lab technicians, judges, and lawyers would take exception to that caricature, as of November 19th of this year the racial makeup of prisoners on death rows across America is fairly well balanced between blacks and whites, and since 1976, more whites than blacks, Latinos, and ‘other’s have been executed.

Capital punishment is found in the Bible; it is a mandate from God; we ought to use it judicially and sparingly; just because people were screwed by their defense attorneys making mistakes is no reason to toss the baby with the bathwater.

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