The Death Penalty

What about this, Tim?

If you would have asked me four years ago what I thought about the Death Penalty, I would have told you that I was all for it.  You’re found guilty of killing someone?  You die.

Since then, I’ve seen some things and thought about some other things that have all started to change my black-and-white view of it, and I’d like to share them with you and get your thoughts as well.

Life

When I was younger I was against abortion because Christians are against abortion.  That was the extent of my thought, anyway.  I realize now that I believe in a human’s God-given, unalienable right to Life.  Most people with whom I have spoken that are anti-abortion are against 1) the killing of a baby who has been born, and 2) full-term abortion.  The reason they are against those things is that “you are taking away that child’s life.”  Well…if Life is the thing, the abortion is not.

So, Life is a God-given right.  Most conservatives seem to agree.  However, that same group of people seem to be pro-war.  For some reason, the protection of a baby’s life is precious and sacred…but the life of a soldier is somewhat expendable.  It seems to me that if we argue for Life on the abortion issue, then we must be consistent and argue for life on behalf of the soldier as well.  Why put a soldier in harm’s way when we doubt the necessity and viability of any of our overseas efforts–ESPECIALLY if the action conflicts with our nation’s Constitution, which the soldier enlisted to defend?  Rather, bring the soldiers home, let them defend our borders and never needlessly die.  Needless, to me, is fighting in a war in which a point of victory is absolutely unclear.  Don’t think that I am against having and paying for a military or fighting to defend our nation.  However, I do think that the worst way to disrespect our Armed Forces is to send them to war without considering their right to life as protected by our nation’s Constitution.

To be absolutely consistent, then, I have to start wondering about the Death Penalty.  Clearly it takes away someone’s life, so it belongs in this realm of thought.  As I said previously, however, while I wish we would stop creating war all over the world, I also believe that soldiers might have to die or kill others as part of our military in defense of our nation.  When this happens, we ought to go away with a clear conscience–knowing exactly why it happened and that it was necessary and backed by the Constitution and the American People.  On a smaller scale, if someone enters my home and threatens my family, I might have to shoot them and kill them.  This is all in defense of my family’s and my rights to Life, Liberty, and Property.

Similarly, I don’t think I have any problem with a murderer who is caught in the act being hung from the nearest tree.

The part that I have started to have a problem with on the Life side of things is where we are now finding out from newly developed technologies that some people who said that they were Not Guilty, but were proven Guilty in court were, in fact, not guilty.  This throws up a major caution flag.  What if we were wrong about those who had to stand trial?

Tyranny

One part of the Death Penalty that I am unclear on, but pretty sure I’m against, is the Federal Death Penalty.

I’m pretty much against Federal Government involvement in any area of my personal life.  I don’t want them to decide what is taught to my children in school.  I don’t want them to have control over what is/isn’t injected into my children’s or my body.  I don’t want them to tax me for that stuff, either.  All the more then, I think I should be very careful not to grant them the power of deciding between Life and Death.

Now that they have begun to assume such powers as indefinitely detaining US Citizens without due process, what keeps them from arbitrarily deciding who lives and dies?

We need to be very careful, here, I think.  There was a time earlier in our nation’s history when our government was involved in a [science] called Eugenics.  The idea was that we could greatly improve the human race if those who possessed desirable traits were allowed to multiply, while those who fell “below average” were sterilized or “done away with.”  Then, the better genes would be passed on, and the weak would disappear.  In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court gave Virginia permission to sterilize all who it deemed “unfit.”  It all seems crazy, but a) it’s true and b) it bears similar resemblance to those who consider abortions based on the idea that their unborn child may not be “normal.”

ANYWAY- the idea, here, is that the Federal Government shouldn’t be given that power.  The states alone should have it and it should be exercised very carefully.  My question today is: when?  When the person is caught on film murdering someone?  When they are found guilty in a court of law?  What if the jury was misled or just wrong?

Vengeance

As a Christian, God’s word has always been, “Vengeance is Mine.  I will repay.”  While I don’t think this stands in conflict with trying to establish earthly Justice, I do think that these words ought to be taken into consideration before any final decision is made on the Death Penalty–which existed under the Law of Moses anyway.

I am grateful to have never been in a situation that surrounded the death penalty, and I am sensitive to the fact that direct involvement might help my understanding.  However, I’ve always been somewhat bothered by the idea of watching someone else die because they killed someone in your family or near you.  I would be afraid of putting a vengeance in my heart that required someone’s life for satisfaction.  I will say it again, though, I’ve never been there.  I could have that ALL wrong.

The Actual Penalty

I think that trying to find “peaceful” ways for someone to die who has been issued the Death Penalty is absurd.  The 8th Amendment, which prohibits Cruel and Unusual Punishment, was actually put in place because of times when previous governments had NOT used the Death Penalty, but had rather paraded a guilty person up and down the street-whipping them all the way–once a year or so.

Your Thoughts

As I said, I’m thinking about it all.  I would very much like other aspects to consider and what your thoughts are concerning the Death Penalty.  As always, any comments are welcome.  I do think that if you are respectful of others, your thoughts are more likely to be seriously considered.  But it’s your freedom to exercise as you see fit.

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5 thoughts on “The Death Penalty

  1. If someone would hurry up and make the machine that would “do to someone” what they are found guilty of doing to another then we would never have to worry about being guilty of carrying out the act. See? Easy. Bam. Done.

    You’re welcome.

  2. Good topic for discussion. Clearly, the Mosaic Law included numerous reasons for taking someone’s life as punishment, so I don’t think we can rule out all capital punishment due to the sanctity of life. Traditionally, the role of punishment has been 2 fold — to carry out justice but also to deter others from committing crime. I’m pretty comfortable with the death penalty in cases of equal justice as your wonderful wifey has already pointed out. The question for me is when it can be used to deter crime. Hmmm . . . will have to think about this some more.

  3. I find this issue confusing. It’s clear biblically that the death penalty is allowed, and also that God takes the shedding of blood very seriously. It’s such a serious issue that I’m just not sure with the current state of the church and the government, who could be trusted to carry it out.

    I thought it was interesting reading Ron Paul’s perspective on it. He said he used to support the death penalty, but he no longer does because too many mistakes have been made.

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