Christ And Capital Punishment
New and/or poorly trained Christians are often unaware that Christ, being a Jew, was just as obligated as any other Jew to comply with the Old Testament, a.k.a. the Tanakh.
● Gal 4:4 . . But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law
Christ underwent the ritual circumcision that the law requires for Jewish boys.
● Luke 2:21 . . On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus
● Luke 2:27 . .The parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the Law
When a Jewish male undergoes ritual circumcision in accordance the law's requirements, he becomes responsible to live by it.
● Gal 5:3 . . I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole law.
Had Christ opposed capital punishment per the Old Testament, under which he was born and by which he was circumcised, he would've incurred a curse on himself.
● Deut 27:26 . . Cursed be he who will not uphold the terms of this law and observe them.
The grammatical tense of that curse is present rather than future, indicating that the curse is instant-- no delay and no waiting period.
There are honest folk who sincerely believe that Christ was a reformer, viz: that his brand of religious philosophy was kinder, gentler, and more loving and understanding than the thunder and lightning of the Old Testament. But Christ didn't shun the Old Testament. In point of fact, he embraced it as his own personal code of conduct.
● Matt 5:17-20 . . Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
. . . Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
● Matt 7:12 . . So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
● Rom 7:7 . . What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.
● Rom 3:31 . . Do
we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
● Gen 9:5-6 . . But for your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast; of man, too, will I require a reckoning for human life, of every man for that of his fellow man! Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in His image did God make man.
One of the important things to note is that the language requires humanity to perform the executions rather than laying this responsibility off on God.
Another point to note is that Gen 9:5-6 is neither a Jewish law nor a Christian law. It's not even a religious law. It's what's known as universal, i.e. it pertains to everybody, both man and beast, regardless of their politics or their religion.
● Gen 9:8-10 . . And God said to Noah and to his sons with him: I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, and with every living thing that is with you-- birds, cattle, and every wild beast as well --all that have come out of the ark, every living thing on earth.
A third point to note is that murder is an outrage.
"for in His image did God make man."
So then; murder isn't banned because it's immoral, but rather, because it demeans the name of God. Apparently, were humanity lacking His image, people could go on safari and stalk each other like game animals and mount human heads as trophies of the hunt.
James criticized the cursing of humans not because it's immoral, but because it too demeans the name of God.
● Jas 3:7-9 . . People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God.
The image of God lends humanity a measure of value that it wouldn't have otherwise.
● Heb 2:7-8 . .You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.
Without that measure of value, humanity would just be another among many knuckle-dragging primates.
implement the death penalty for murder denigrates the sanctity and dignity of
Almighty God. So don't ever let anyone tell you capital punishment for murder is
wrong. No; capital punishment for murder isn't wrong; au contraire, capital
punishment for murder is divine.
FAQ: Don't you think it's better to lock all murderers away for life rather than risk taking the lives of those who are innocent?
REPLY: It is never better to disobey God. The first couple did, and you see what that got them.
Disobedience is on a scale with dark arts and the worship of pagan gods like Shiva and Vishnu.
● 1Sam 15:22-23 . . Has The Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of The Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
In war, commanders expect a percentage of casualties by human error and/or friendly fire; and those kinds of casualties are usually factored in as acceptable losses. But it isn't wise to turn off a war off just because somebody might get hurt by friendly fire. Accidents happen; even under ideal conditions.
It's the same with the war on crime. Just because a percentage of innocent people get executed for something they didn't do, is no excuse to get in bed with the Devil and oppose God's edicts per Gen 9:5-6.
America's justice system, although far from perfect, has a pretty good batting average. The overwhelming majority of people dead from executions fully deserved what they got. Only a tiny percentage are victims of error; and those percentages should always be considered acceptable losses in any legitimate endeavor to protect domestic tranquility.
An incident recorded in the 8th chapter of John is sometimes appropriated to suggest that Christ opposed capital punishment. But the incident is actually better appropriated to show that Christ is a stickler for due process.
Long story short, a woman was brought before Christ accused of adultery; which is normally a mandatory death offense under the terms and conditions of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God per the Old Testament.
● Lev 20:10 . . And the man that commits adultery with another man's wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
However; the covenant requires that no one can be given the death penalty without the testimony of at least two witnesses.
● Deut 17:6-7 . . At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.
As it turned out; all the witnesses to a man melted away, leaving none with which to build a case against the woman.
NOTE: There's lots of speculation going around guessing what Christ wrote on the ground; and some of it is a mite kooky. Well, as for me; I suspect it was the names of girlfriends that the woman's accusers had on the side that they thought nobody knew about. Hence when Christ said; "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" he wasn't talking about sin in general; no, he meant the same sin; viz: adultery.
You can well imagine how Pharisees and Scribes would be anxious to avoid scandal seeing as how they were highly respected by the general public; and there was a crowd gathered around the scene that day watching the whole thing.
FAQ: Isn't Christ supposed to be God; therefore knowing all things and seeing all things? Why couldn't Christ prosecute the woman in that capacity?
REPLY: The flesh of John 1:14 wasn't a divine hominid, viz: the Word of John 1:1-3 was here as an ordinary guy (Phil 2:6-8) and as such Jesus wasn't a legitimate witness because he wasn't at the scene of the crime in person to catch the woman in the act.
And besides, Jesus would've been only one witness, whereas the Old Testament's rules requires two in capital cases.
Here's a number of Old Testament death-penalty requirements that Christ was obligated to approve.
Murder (Gen 9:5-6,
Lev 24:17, Lev 24:21, Num 35:31-34)
Assault and Battery upon parents (Ex 21:15)
Kidnapping (Ex 21:16)
Execrating parents (Ex 21:17)
Harboring a dangerous animal (Ex 21:28-29)
Adultery (Lev 20:10, Deut 22:22)
Marrying a mother and her daughter (Lev 20:14)
Sleeping with a daughter-in-law (Lev 20:12)
Homosexuality (Lev 20:13)
Sleeping with the wife of one's father (Lev 20:11)
Necromancy (Lev 20:27)
Contempt of court (Deut 17:8-13)
Perjury (Deut 19:16-21)
Breaking the Sabbath (Ex 31:12-17)
Propagating cults and isms (Deut 13:1-18)
Blaspheme (Lev 24:13-16)
Malicious miscarriage (Ex 21:22-24)
Bestiality (Ex 22:18, Lev 20:15-16)
Tainted Virgins (Deut 22:13-21)
Naughty fiancée (Deut 22:23-27)
Sorcery (Ex 22:18)
Reprobate offspring (Deut 21:18-21)
NOTE: The death penalty for those sins is a covenanted penalty. Seeing as how Christians are not covenanted with God to enforce the law per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; then Christians, as a corporate body, are under no obligation to punish sin in their midst in accordance with the law's stipulations.
For example: If a member of your church is caught practicing sorcery, then your church's governance may discipline the member, but that's the limit of their authority because capital punishment for the sin of sorcery isn't a covenanted requirement for Christians.
FAQ: The gentle, kind-hearted Jesus is actually capable of sentencing people to death?
REPLY: Yes indeed! Are you familiar with any Old Testament passages regarding Messiah? When he shows up next time, it won't be as Mr. NiceGuy.
● Ps 2:6-9 . . But I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain! Let me tell of the decree: The Lord said to me; You are my son, I have fathered you this day. Ask it of me, and I will make the nations your domain; your estate, the limits of the earth. You can smash them with an iron mace, shatter them like potter’s ware.
● Rev 19:13-15 . . And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
The ultimate capital punishment is on display at Rev 20:11-15. The judge presiding over that terrible scene will be none other than the sweet little baby away in manger.
● John 5:22-23 . .The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
● Acts 17:31 . . For God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
● Rev 20:11-15 . .Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
. . . And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
. . .The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Great White Throne event won't be a peaceful scene. I'd imagine that people will be literally pale with terror, lips trembling, mouths too dry to speak; screaming, shrieking, sobbing, bellowing and yelping like wounded dogs-- eyes darting about looking for something, anything, to clutch and cling to as the awful reality of their fate sinks in; and a powerful force they cannot resist drags them off to a mode of death akin to a foundry worker falling into a kettle of molten iron.
OBJECTION: The 6th Commandment says; Thou shalt not kill. Therefore, those of us who oppose capital punishment are doing so in order to obey God's commandments.
RESPONSE: It's absolutely astonishing that somebody would actually be audacious enough to attempt to use one of God's own commandments to nullify the rest of His own commandments.
Of particular interest in capital cases; is God's wishes that executions not always be performed by the State, nor carried out by grim professionals; no, in many capital cases it is God's wishes that executions be carried out by ordinary rank and file citizens. Just as American jurisprudence stipulates a jury of one's peers, so God's jurisprudence oftentimes stipulates an execution by one's peers.
OBJECTION: Christians are not under Moses' covenant but under Christ's.
RESPONSE: That objection is useless seeing as how Christ lived under Moses' covenant and was therefore obligated to comply with every last bit of it just like every other Jew in his day.
However, even though the new covenant supersedes the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (Heb 8:13) there is not the slightest indication that the new covenant supersedes Noah's covenant as per Gen 9:1-17.
OBJECTION: Christians are not to mix the Old Testament with the New as per 2Tim 2:15-16; "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
RESPONSE: To some Christians, the term "rightly dividing" means to keep the Old Testament separate from the New Testament. But that posture is a direct conflict of interest to the wishes of Christianity's central figure.
● Luke 24:44-45 . .Then He said to them; These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
The law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms make up a very large percentage of the Old Testament; ergo: it's impossible to fully understand the person and work of the New Testament's Jesus sans the Old Testament. Obviously then, the reason that some Christians insist the Old Testament portion of the Holy Bible can be ruled out is quite simple: Jesus hasn't as yet opened their understanding that they might comprehend it.
The Greek word translated "rightly dividing" is orthotomeo (or-thot-om-eh'-o); which— in blue collar terms —means to be right on; viz: to make a straight cut; as opposed to a crooked cut, or a cut that misses the line and yields a piece that's either too long or too short.
The intent is not one of severing the Bible in half and throwing part of it out; but to be accurate in its interpretations and applications so that it all fits together perfectly, like a well made armoire instead of a hastily constructed rabbit hutch. Here's 2Tim 2:15 from another version.
● Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
A Bible student who relegates the Old Testament to the status of a superfluous non-essential, is not yet a journeyman Bible student; no, they're an apprentice: they lack the skills necessary to piece the Bible all together and make everything fit; thus they're stalled at a rudimentary level in their perspective of the New Testament's Jesus. Their Jesus is an unfinished Jesus: an entry level version appropriate for a child's mind, but much too fundamental for an adult's.
● 2Tim 3:16-17 . .all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
● Ps 1:1-3 . .Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in Yhvh's law, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
● Ps 19:9-11 . .Yhvh's ordinances are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
OBJECTION: You put yourself in God's place if you support the death penalty. You play God.
RESPONSE: Humanity is duly authorized to play God in capital matters.
● Gen 9:5-6a . .But for your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast; of man, too, will I require a reckoning for human life, of every man for that of his fellow man! Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed;
Accountability for the death of a human being is a stipulation of Noah's covenanted law that has never been repealed. It is a universal law that applies to every beast and to every human being that descends from Noah and his three sons— to both Jew and to Gentile, no exceptions.
● Gen 9:6b . . for in His image did God make man.
Murdering a human being is just as serious as murdering God. Refusal to enforce the death penalty undervalues the person of Almighty God because Man was made in His likeness. Shouldn't it be a death offense to kill God without justification? Then it has to be a death offense to kill a human being without justification.
● Gen 1:26-27 . .And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
● Jas 3:8-10 . .But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God . . My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
People who oppose the death penalty oppose God's feelings about it. They have put themselves in Satan's place, and play Satan by openly, and actively, rebelling against the Creator's holy mandates— a rebellion that can only be construed as a demonic practice.
OBJECTION: When society executes people, it lowers itself to the killer's level.
RESPONSE: Not even close. Murderers don't bother to take into consideration the rights of their fellow man. They take life with neither a Divine right, nor a legal right to do so. The State takes a murderer's life by Divine mandate, and by due process of law; thus elevating itself to the level of God; which is actually who it represents.
● Rom 13:1-5 . .Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
. . . For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
OBJECTION: I have always thought that death was an easy way out. Especially for hardened criminals. Given the choice which would you prefer; to die and thereby cease all future suffering from confinement or to be confined for the rest of your life in a 6x8 foot cell with one hour of activity every 24 outside. Eating institutionalized food everyday and your only vacation is once a week you can take a shower. And even if you wanted to commit suicide you can't because your injuries will be treated and you will be returned to serve your sentence. Imagine spending 40 or 50 years like that.
RESPONSE: It has always been of great interest to me that there are neither prisons, nor prison sentences stipulated in Old Testament law. Fines? Yes. Reparations? Yes. Lashes? Yes. Burning? Yes. Hanging? Yes. Stoning? Yes. Excommunication? Yes. But jails and prisons? No. Confinement is not an option. Justice is swift, punishment is typically summary; and there are no appeals.
OBJECTION: Have you never heard of separation of church and state?
RESPONSE: So-called separation of church and state is based upon the first Amendment of the US Constitution; which is intended to (1) prevent the State from legislating a national religion with which everyone must comply. and (2) intended to prevent the State from interfering with the free exercise of religion.
I have yet to see anything in the US Constitution intended to prevent religion from influencing the State.
In addition; the US Constitution has no authority to regulate life outside the United States.
NOTE: There weren't any churches when God issued that edict in Genesis 9:1-17. There weren't even any Jews, nor was there a class of Earthen citizenry labeled Gentiles.
The Bible aside; let me ask you something. Do you have a sense of fair play? How is it fair to allow murders to keep their own life— on the dole with State-provided food, clothing, shelter, and health care while their victims are dead? Is that fair? No, that is not fair! That degree of inequity should never be encouraged to exist in any so-called God fearing society.
Opposition to capital punishment insults the principles of justice and fails to balance the scales— eye for eye, tooth for tooth, dollar for dollar, bruise for bruise, life for life, bone for bone, burning for burning, et al. Man was made in the image of God, but at times Man treats God's law as if His instructions were demonic. People like that are depraved.
● Rom 1:28 . . Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God; He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
OBJECTION: I would just like to know how you can justify capital punishment in light of "vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay."
RESPONSE: Are we talking abut the same Lord who instituted capital punishment for murderers at Gen 9:1-17 and a host of other places as per the list above?
Capital punishment is one of God's ways of obtaining the vengeance He seeks, and one of His ways of repaying evil. People who oppose capital punishment are on the wrong side in the war against crime; they are in bed with the Devil rather than in submission to the Bible's God.
OBJECTION: I just wonder whether jury, judge and executioners will be held responsible by God for sending an innocent man into death. What do you think?
RESPONSE: Accidents happen. See above.
Executing an innocent person can hardly be construed a sin when it's done legally through the court system. A lynching of course has no excuse.
OBJECTION: We do not kill because it is not the "job" of the church, no matter what.
RESPONSE: Churches are merely assemblies of citizens who share the same religious beliefs. They are not legislative bodies, nor are they civil authorities. Churches are not supposed to conquer the country wherein they reside and force everybody to comply with their way of doing things. They are, in point of fact, required by the Bible's God to submit themselves to the laws of the lands wherein they reside. (Rom 13:1-7, 1Pet 2:13-17).
But each individual church member is also a citizen, and has civic duties and responsibilities to fulfill for the State wherein they reside, especially here in America— jury duty for example. When a church member is called to jury duty, they shoulder a shared responsibility with the State to make the criminal justice system work, and to help it comply, as close as possible, with God's mandates concerning the punishment of crime.
It is very wrong for a Christian to cop out on that duty because according to Romans 13:1-4, the State represents God in criminal matters. Refusal to assist the State in criminal matters is all the same as refusing to assist the very God that Christians profess to worship and serve.
In many of the capital crimes listed in the Old Testament, it is God's wishes that ordinary civilians participate in the execution process rather than stand on the sidelines and condemn the State for taking a life. Christians who oppose the death penalty are the worst kinds of hypocrites there is.
● Mal 1:6 . . A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?
The Bible's God is the one who's God; and oftentimes ends His commands with the statement "I am The Lord" apparently because some people, including substantial numbers of pew warmers professing to be His followers, tend to forget who's in charge.
OBJECTION: I always thought that passage in John was a teaching for the Christian community about the evils of passing judgment; e.g. Matt 7:1
RESPONSE: The "evil" in Matt 7:1-5 is the use of a double standard; one for yourself, and one for others; which is hypocrisy of the worst sort.
OBJECTION: Your interpretation has Jesus defending a wrong-doer from facing justice on a technicality.
RESPONSE: I'm an American citizen. In my country, the accused have a right to an attorney and are assumed innocent until proven guilty. What the above objector labeled as defending a wrong-doer is perfectly legitimate in my country. Everyone has a right to a defense, and to due process of law. Justice is not served when people are punished without a fair trial; and if Jesus had condemned that woman sans the testimony of at least two witnesses, he not only would have become a wrong-doer himself, but also party to a cruel miscarriage of justice.
OBJECTION: Jesus knew that the woman committed adultery. So if he really was pro death penalty, he would have cast the first stone.
RESPONSE: In court, it's not what you know that counts; it's what you can prove that counts.
OBJECTION: How does capital punishment harmonize with turning the other cheek?
RESPONSE: A slap in the face is nowhere near as serious as the crime of murder.