Capital Punishment

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Capital Punishment

28 April 2010 Hits:4413

Capital Punishment has been forever abolished in Australia by the recent passing of The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill.   Even though no Australian State or Territory has the death penalty, this law ensures none can ever reintroduce it.  As a Christian I fully support this move by the Australian Parliament – even though some parts of the Bible endorse the use of the death penalty especially for first-degree murder (see Genesis 9:6; 6:5,6; Exodus 21:12-29; Romans 13:1-4).

Sexual sins also commanded the use of the death penalty under the Old Testament law (Leviticus 20:10) and stubborn and rebellious children who would not receive correction could be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18ff).  In summary, the Bible gives human government authority to resist evil in the world by means of the Capital Punishment.  But just because something is permissible does not mean it is beneficial or constructive (1 Corinthians 10:23).  Today the death penalty is mostly used by governments to eliminate their political opponents – including many Christians.

Obviously God did not see it as beneficial to take Cain’s life even though he had murdered his brother (Genesis 4:10-16).  Jesus didn’t see it as constructive to allow the Jewish religious leaders to stone the adulterous woman to death – even though the Law permitted such action (John 8:1-11)

There are many reasons why Capital Punishment is not the best course of action:  Some criminals cannot be reformed because they are mentally ill, brain damaged or mentally retarded.  Is it right to take their life because of a handicap?  The death penalty does not act as a deterrent – it is incorrect to think that those who commit heinous crimes rationally think through their actions before committing them.  Capital punishment is not a more cost-effective option than prison.  In fact it is cheaper to keep someone in jail for the rest of their life than to have them on death row.

The Bible sanctions the use of Capital Punishment but also gives the civil authorities the freedom to exercise it or not.  On this basis I agree with the Australian Government passing legislation that outlaws Capital Punishment in Australia forever.  In the light of this I also believe that Australia needs tougher sentencing including life sentences that mean life without the possibility of parole.  Our judicial system is often far too soft on hard criminals, and the media are guilty of glorifying them as seen on the Underbelly TV series and the recent media glorification of Carl Williams.

There are times when it is right to lock someone up and throw away the key, but Jesus made it very clear that “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” was a law that belonged to another era and not to the age of grace.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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5 replies on “Capital Punishment”

John Edwardssays:

Hi Pastor Rob would you please write the details of where the Bible gives civil authorities the freedom to exercise capital punishment or not? That’s interesting. Also, weren’t Jesus’ comments about the “eye for an eye” line used by Jewish leaders really His explanation of the real intent of that portion of Law in contrast to the way the Pharisees were misapplying it, rather than a total repudiation of its relevance? Correct me if I’m wrong but my understanding is that the Pharisees had been misusing that point of Law as an excuse for revenge and for harshness and inequality in punishment; whereas the real intent of the “eye for an eye” law as given by God through Moses was never meant to be a licence for revenge and was never meant to be taken literally – quite the opposite. It never meant that if you knock my tooth out, I can literally knock your tooth out. It was only an expression that meant that the restitution demanded by Law had to equal the damage that was incurred – nothing more, nothing less; it meant that the restitution demanded had to be the same for everyone regardless of the status of the person; it meant a victim couldn’t react in a rage of revenge and determine on his own what would be a fitting compensation for him to exact upon the person who disadvantaged him: the restitution could only be exactly according to the damage; and it had to be determined at the hands of a magistrate, not a private revenge thing. In the world of Moses’ day, that would have been a new concept of mercy and fairness in law, considering the treatment the Jews had been accustomed to at the hands of their Egyptian slave-drivers! “Eye for an eye” was actually meant to prevent the kinds of actions which the Pharisees were wrongly using it to justify. So Jesus illustrated the true intent of the Law by teaching that His diciples would have to do better than the Pharisees – His disciples shouldn’t immediately react to a mere slap on the cheek; they should have a certain amount of willingness to suffer a little bit of wrong instead of immediately taking matters into their own hands; they should tolerate others being a little bit demanding of them before drawing the line. David as King understood the Law in that spirit. And Jesus was bringing His disciples back to what is truly required in God’s Kingdom, and by God’s Law, in contrast to what the Scribes, Pharisees, ancients and them of old time were wrongly perpetrating. (This also seems to be the understanding expressed in Wesley’s Notes, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, People’s New Testament, and Geneva Study Bible.)

mjsays:

god bless all those who follow the age old scripture, but please???? Have you or anyone else close to you ever been molested or raped, eye for an eye, life for a life, these horrible people have taken a life even though a breath still escapes their victims mouths, unfortunately it is words such as those read above which have taken the rights away from victims, shame on you all!

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Hi MJ,

Thank you for your comments. My opinion on Capital Punishment does not mean that I believe in soft sentencing. I believe that people who commit horrendous crimes should be given a Life Sentence without the possibility of parole – life should mean life.

God bless,

Rob

Christopher Hillsays:

WWJD? I feel SURE that killing someone, ANYONE for ANY REASON is wrong. The Apostles learnt well. When Jesus was killed for no good reason did they seek revenge? No they did not, and so too, we should not seek revenge on others. It seems quite plain and simple to me. I don’t even understand how anyone following Jesus could question that. Again, it seems quite simple to me.

God bless

Christopher

jacksays:

so…where did you source your information from?

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