Why I Support the Death Penalty, in a nutshell

I agree with the death penalty. I believe God has given governments both the authority and the ability to exercise both wrath and mercy upon those they govern, but I also believe that there are crimes committed which no living man or institution of man is able to completely, and thus fairly, judge.

And so I agree with the death penalty because it is the means by which we can transfer the case, so to speak, to a more righteous Judge, the Lord Himself. Less than twenty-four hours ago, Saddam Hussein came face to face with the Judge of his soul. Whatever you may believe to be wrong concerning how he was ousted, the war in Iraq, his trial, or whatever, none of that mattered when Saddam left his body and came before the Lord. Whatever injustice there was in his life has been settled in Heaven. He has received whatever the just recompense for his deeds is.

I’m well aware of the arguments against the death penalty; I’ve been on that side of the fence as well. For those of you reading this who have more hope in this life than in what comes after, I don’t blame you for opposing the death penalty. If there is no judgment after death, then the death penalty does nothing. It isn’t a punishment so much as a cessation, allowing us to continue our lives without the malefactor, though no restitution was ever or could ever be made.

But because there is a judgment after death, I have little problem with the death penalty. If someone is unjustly sentenced to death here, a fair trial awaits him or her before a more righteous Judge. If someone is guilty of heinous crime here but “gets away with it,” a judgment awaits him. And for those who commit the crimes and are caught, I don’t think man is capable of making a fitting judgment. And we’re not supposed to expend our resources feeding, housing, and caring for those who commit such crimes because this life isn’t all there is; a proper judgment awaits, and God has granted the government the sword of wrath to expedite such sinners’ arrival before the Judge.

Everyone has their opinion, and that is mine. I’d love to hear yours, and I’d love to discuss the matter with you biblically. (Taking the Bible out of the equation and limiting life to this earth only, well, I’d have to oppose the death penalty…)

15 thoughts on “Why I Support the Death Penalty, in a nutshell”

  1. I’ve always agreed with the death penalty (well from about 8th grade on when I actually cared) but I’ve never heard any argument put that eloquently (and logically) for the death penalty until now. =) I might have to “steal” that.

  2. Rick, I’d have to say I agree with your logic, although I am against the death penalty. I agree that there is a judgment waiting for the criminal, and that “vengence is the Lord’s”, but I think that if I were given the choice to have someone who has wronged me either die or put in prison for life, I’d give them prison. And, if the Lord be willing, I’d help them in whatever puny way I could to meet the Lord with mercy, not judgment. You never know, by sparing them for this miniscule time, I’ve given them a chance to repent. If not, then they can live for a very long time with the guilt of wronging me and still having my forgiveness, all the while building up for themselves wrath.

  3. Justin: On a personal level, if someone wronged me, it is definitely in accord with Jesus’ teachings to turn the other cheek and to forgive completely and repeatedly. We’re not given a sword for wrath; rather, we are given the Word of the Lord which is all the sword we need. Governments, however, are instructed to be ministers of the Lord, both in rewarding those who do righteously and in punishing those who do unrighteously. That is the government’s prerogative.

    Though that isn’t at all what the government focuses on (if at all) these days. Why worry about rewarding those who do those things which are pleasing in the eyes of God when they can worry about what kind of education your kids get, how your dogs and cats are treated, what kinds of food you consume, and so on and so forth. The wicked go unpunished and so wickedness continues, and I couldn’t imagine how much more pleasant things would be if righteousness was rewarded by our governments rather than trying to be stamped out in favor of meaningless relativism where “if it feels right to you, do it” is religion’s own reward.

    Ecclesiastes 8:11 says that if sentence against the wicked isn’t executed speedily, the hearts of those guilty only harden further against those they sin against. The problem with prison — a form of punishment God didn’t institute (His include capital and corporal punishment and restitution) — is that the wicked can still be wicked in prison. Prison is hardly an efficient means of correction either. Send murderers to prison with double or triple life sentences and — wonder of wonders — others will still go around killing people. However, if the government started exercising their God-ordained right to speedily execute capital punishment upon those who commit capital crimes, how quickly do you think people would catch on?

    I truly believe there is a reason Paul described the government as a “minister of God” when speaking of the government’s exercising of wrath. Just as we are ministers of God in being a light to the world in turning the other cheek and to extending love and alms, so are governments ministers of God when they are executing judgment according to His Word.

    It could be argued that such authority is only given to Christian governments (such as, in my opinion, don’t exist on earth today, no matter how much one wants to misconstrue America into having one), but Paul wrote what he did under the rule of the Romans, a government which persecuted and killed Christians and even allowed the crucifixion of Christ to take place without any valid reason on the part of their own law. It was a government headed by Caesars, men who were worshiped as god-men, and Paul says that the government is a minister of God! I’m awe-struck at that statement, but it is a reminder of just how in control God is, even when from our perspective things may be direly out of control.

    So there’s a little more insight into why I believe that the death penalty isn’t just an okay thing but is rather a righteous necessity.

  4. “But because there is a judgment after death, I have little problem with the death penalty. If someone is unjustly sentenced to death here, a fair trial awaits him or her before a more righteous Judge.”

    Oh my. Let’s not forget we live in a democracy, where the government doesn’t necessarily wield the sword of wrath without consent from the governed. Governments as ministers of the Lord went out with the decline of the English monarchy. Trial by a jury of peers, and all that. What is the Christian duty of the juror, who makes the decision? The government makes the law, again through representative democracy, but it is the individual juror who determines guilt/inncocence; death/life.

  5. One question that comes to mind when I read this post is basically on what basis do we judge guilt? Should common law have the primacy when regarding the style of trial and judgment this person has? Why not the laws practiced by Islam or some Asian countries where you are presumed guilty till proven innocent! I don’t really have a firm opinion with regards to this subject and I should reserve a good scriptural study of this issue would be needed! If only there were more hours in a day :-)

  6. Well, biblically, guilt was usually determined by the testimony of at least two witnesses.

    Personally, I would hope the death penalty is only practiced when it is in accord with Scripture. Things like murder are obvious examples.

    There aren’t any cut and dry passages regarding when a Gentile nation may exercise wrath, that I am aware of, so you are right, it would be an interesting study.

  7. One could only wish that the Christian life could be so cut and dried. The prosecution will have two or more witnesses to make a case, and the defense will have two or more witnesses to refute the case. On what basis must the individual Christian juror make a decision that holds life and death in the balance? Jury duty is an obligation we all have, whether in civil or criminal cases. Something to think about when you get the notice in the mail.

  8. Well, I’m off to work everyone! I request prayers for myself. Either tonight or tomorrow night I’ll have to work alongside a homosexual Jehovah’s Witness, and I don’t know how to handle it properly. I mean, I can handle it decently, but I don’t know how I should handle it in a Christian way. Just ask that God, in His jealousy, would keep me safe from any snares of the fowler. Please and thank you. Have a great night everyone, and God bless you!

    EDIT: Wow, that was a quick answer to my prayer. I just went over to aomin.org and James White has been doing a series on Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Amen.

    2nd EDIT: Sorry for all the edits. But I was reading Philippians 4:8 in context, and I just wanted to share the preceding verses with you, vv. 4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

  9. i believe in the death penalty also… the bible says if you live by the sword you die by the sword… theres no doubt in my mind that god meant it when he said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.. i believe god is in favor of the death penalty too.. the wages of sin is death, if you commit a crime {which is a sin any way}such as murder, rape, or molest a child, or commit crimes like hitler did, or like sadam did then you should get the death pentalty..

  10. And the Bible also says that if one commits idolatry they are to be put to death. Idolatry is a sin. Everyone’s done it. Should we then just put the death penalty to everyone?

    Forgetting to keep the Sabbath day holy is a sin. I’m sure everyone in the world has not kept every Sabbath day holy. Is that crime enough to give someone the death penalty?

    Taking the Lord’s name in vain is punishable by death. I’m sure some of us have even used His name lightly, which is still in vain. Kill people for that, too?

    Now, I’m not saying I’m not in favor of the death penalty, but what I am wondering is which crimes are punishable by death? Are we using human standards, or God’s standards? Because if we’re using God’s standards, then everyone must be put to death.

    Thankfully, we don’t have to carry out the civil requirements of Moses’ law. Jesus fulfilled those laws. We are only required to be morally clean. Praise the LORD!

  11. However, Paul does still say that the government is a minister of God’s for wrath. On what basis is that? What wrath can the state execute? What wrath must the state execute in order to be a faithful minister?

    Keep in mind in the civil law of Israel, not all sins required death. There were many that required restitution or corporal punishment. Imprisonment was not one of ’em. Man came up with that “brilliant” idea…

  12. Couldn’t agree with you more. Thirty years ago, my cousin was shot and killed. The shooter walked on a technicality even though he confessed; there were also two witnesses. Brandon (my cousin) would be 49 years old this February 14.

  13. Keith, I clicked over to your site after seeing your name in my recent comments list, and to make a long story short, I’m a subscriber now.

    I’m sorrowed to hear about what happened with your cousin, especially that man’s justice system failed in that case. The Lord will certainly reward the murderer according to his works.

    I hope he has repented.

  14. Bilal M. Guwale

    I would like to contact with any one who have humanity and full knowledge about this subject death penalty specially in religion. Imagine death penalty why and for who.

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