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Jesus backed hanging


ROGER MARSHALL

Jesus backed hanging

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“Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God has made humankind.” – Genesis 9:6, New English Translation Bible

MANY OPPONENTS OF capital punishment are guided by two basic philosophies/world views, but their opposition to the death penalty is not consistent with the basic tenets of the world views they espouse.

For example, many in Christendom who accept God as the Creator of mankind, have been led to believe that since the first advent of Jesus Christ, the death penalty for murder has become obsolete as part of the old Mosaic law, and that guided by Jesus’ New Testament way of love and forgiveness, we are to extend pardon and rehabilitation to cold-blooded murderers instead of execution.

Yet Jesus himself (the very epitome of love and forgiveness) espoused the death penalty for murder when he told Peter: “Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26: 52, Webster’s Bible Translation).

Addressing this verse of scripture, Pulpit Commentary observes: “There is a stress on the word ‘‘take’’, and there is an imperative force in the future, ‘‘shall perish’’. The Lord is speaking of those who arbitrarily and presumptuously resort to violence; and he says, ‘‘Let them feel the sword’’. The word was of wide application and contained a universal truth; it was, in fact, a re-enactment of the primeval law touching the sacredness of human life, and the penalty that ensues on its infringement (Genesis 9:5, 6).”

The Apostle Paul reiterated Jesus’ teaching on capital punishment when he wrote: “For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it 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.” (Romans 13:4, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

 Commenting on this verse, renowned theologian, the late Albert Barnes, stated that the word “wrath” in this verse “denotes here ‘punishment’ or the just execution of the laws. It may be remarked that this verse is an ‘incidental’ proof of the propriety of ‘capital punishment’. The sword was undoubtedly an instrument for this purpose, and the apostle mentions its use without any remark of ‘disapprobation’. He enjoins subjection to those who ‘wear the sword’, that is, to those who execute the laws ‘by that’; and evidently intends to speak of the magistrate ‘with the sword’, or in inflicting capital punishment, as having received the appointment of God.”

So those persons in Christendom, from Pope to parishioner, who oppose capital punishment have no real biblical basis for doing so.

Conversely, there are those who don’t believe in God as the Creator but instead believe that man is just another animal; the result of blind chance evolutionary processes. As the late American jurist, evolutionist and secular humanist Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Acting Chief Justice of the United States, stated: “I believe that there are no innate, intrinsic differences among a human being, a baboon or a grain of sand.”

Yet many such persons are also known to vehemently oppose capital punishment, claiming that it is “inhumane”, but if there is no supreme moral governor of the universe who sets the rules of right and wrong, then all such emotional responses about the supposed inhumaneness of capital punishment or even the wrongness of murder are just the subjective feelings of people with no real basis in objective reality.

After all, there is nothing wrong or inhumane when our supposed “fellow animals” kill each other in their natural environment. So the atheists’/secular humanists’ objection to the death penalty (or even murder for that matter) is also not consistent with the foundational mindless and purposeless dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest evolutionary world view they espouse.

Be that as it may, some oppose capital punishment on the grounds that innocent people may be executed. While this is a legitimate concern, it should be noted that the same God who created mankind and instituted capital punishment for murder, also demands of those involved in the judicial system to see to it that they “Be sure never to charge anyone falsely with evil. Never sentence an innocent or blameless person to death, for I never declare a guilty person to be innocent.” (Exodus 23:7, New Living Translation)

Yet, again there are those who oppose capital punishment for the reason that it does not serve as a deterrent. However, it is instructive to note that nowhere in Scripture did God state that the death penalty for murder serves as a deterrent, but rather as punishment for those who willfully and wickedly destroy the most precious and invaluable commodity in all of the universe – human life.

While the debate over the enforcement or the abolition of capital punishment continues, the blood of innocent people cry out to God from the ground for true justice (see Genesis 4:10; Revelation 6:10).

– ROGER MARSHALL

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