Why I Support the Death Penalty
I was recently schooled by a Catholic friend on the subject of the Pro-Life Movement. She insisted that Pro-Life included banning the death penalty. Her argument was, to be honest, very Pro-Life, along with being high minded and idealistic of a world we might all love to see and live in. She implied that the death penalty was not God-like, not demonstrative of His loving-kindness or the forgiveness that we, as Christians should demonstrate in our own lives. She quoted Pope John Paul and Pope Francis and she concluded that we all have a right to life and that, taking the life of a convicted killer cuts him, or her, off from the opportunity for repentance and salvation. These are all beautiful thoughts and somewhat reflective of a Kingdom of Heaven ideal, I suppose. The trouble is that the mirror she’s seeing this reflection in is a dark and dirty glass that is distorting her view.
Her beautiful thoughts, unfortunately, are born of an ignorance of the scriptures, and thereby ignorance of God. The “right to life” she mentioned is in the constitution, not the Bible, and therefore dependent on the whims of government and despots, not the promises of God. In fact, the Bible, God’s Holy word and the revelation of Himself, says just the opposite. The Bible informs us that we are all deserving of death, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” His word goes on to say that, “The wages of sin is death,” but to truly understand these words requires that one correctly understand the concept of sin.
We have all been taught to believe that sin is a verb, that it is defined by the things we do while under the influence of certain sinful emotions such as pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. But sin is not a verb, it’s a noun and the things we do are the fruit of sin, not sin itself. Sin is an intrinsic part of who we are and who we have been since the day Adam fell prey to the temptation of Satan in the Garden. On that day, everything changed and the man and the woman who were made in God’s image became defiled. They were literally changed by what they did, mind, body, and spirit. Let me rephrase the words of the Bible to make this better understood, “All have sin and all fall short of the glory God intended.” In other words, we have become a great disappointment to God in the same way that Satan and his fallen angels have. In the course of time, God has become “grieved that He made us.”
Think for a moment about the gravity of that truth. The God who created us, the Holy God for whom sin is a form of Kryptonite that must never touch or come close to Him, the same God who was forced to cast the rebelling angels from His presence in Heaven, was also forced to cast Adam and Eve from the purity of the Garden He had created for them. Only purity can stand next to God, only purity can walk with Him in the Garden of His Kingdom. Sin has forever separated us from God our Father and from the Kingdom He created us for.
I say all this to establish a background, a foundation for what follows because, without this understanding of who we are in the eyes of God, it will be impossible to understand the world that we live in today. What followed the Great Flood in which God expressed His grief, was a binding law to regulate human behavior, a standard by which all men should live and be judged within The Father’s moral will. This law, this standard of morality and ethic calls for a penalty of death in almost every instance of violation. His law stands in force to this day. Jesus said of it, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
How can that be, if we live in the age of God’s grace if Christ shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins? The answer is simple, “Free Will.” Each of us is free to choose to obey the law or not. The overwhelming evidence provided by the Bible and supported by secular history indicates clearly that we are not very good at obedience. The biggest part of our sin nature has made us selfish and irresponsible. The proof of it became obvious the very day that God confronted Adam about his disobedience. In his new, sinful nature, Adam pointed to Eve and said, “it was the woman,” he then pointed to God and added, “that you gave me.”
That sinful tradition continues to this day and lies at the very heart of sin. First, the self-awareness that led to rebellion and then the selfish irresponsibility that leads to all manner of wickedness. The rise of wickedness compelled God to destroy the life He created on the earth by means of a flood. Only by His grace did he preserve a future for mankind. And now, seeing wickedness rise again, He will destroy the earth once and for all by fire as He demonstrated at Sodom and Gomorrah. In the meantime, we are free in God’s grace or mercy to choose our own way in this world. We may choose to live our lives in God’s permissive will, free of all moral constraints, lawless and defiant of God or denying Him altogether. In such a case we live our lives under God’s mercy, but we are without His grace, unforgiven if you will, and subject to all the penalties of the law including and especially death.
Most of us rather choose to live in God’s moral will where God gives the state authority over life and death. In this case, we live our lives according to the law, by God’s mercy, but also lacking His grace. Other than having a fixed standard of morality according to God’s will, there is often little perceptive difference between the people who spend their lives in His moral will and those who live in His permissive will. History and the Bible have well proven that people are incapable of living according to an external standard. We are all born of a criminal mind and of those who will be judged by God, many will be compelled to account for the things they did in His name.
Finally, there is God’s specific will. That is a life lived in God’s grace, forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit so that the law is written on one’s heart by the blood of Jesus Christ. For such as these, there is no sin, all is forgiven. There is only one law for those who live by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that is, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10:26, 27) Such people do not commit crimes against their neighbors and thus are not subject to the penalties of either the law or of sin. On rare occasion, when this general rule is broken and harm is done in the flesh, then what is done in the flesh, outside the power of the Holy Spirit, is subject to the law of the flesh.
In short, people are free to choose to live by the Spirit or to live by the law and all must be held accountable according to their choice. When you choose to act in the flesh you can expect to be judged by the law and punished accordingly. The Apostle Paul makes this very clear in Romans 13. In verse four of that chapter, he tells us, “For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it (the state) does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” Then, in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” In other words, to live by the law can only lead to death, there is no other way for a life lived outside of God’s specific will. As long as people choose to live and act outside of God’s specific will, they will be subject to the law. That choice requires the state to build prisons and authorizes Government to decide who will live and who will die, as stated by Pilate in John 19:10, when he said to Jesus, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Indeed he does and he gains that authority from God.