CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
By Robert Fratta
Vice President, The Lamp of Hope Project
The United States was founded as a Christian nation and is still overwhelmingly inhabited and governed by citizens who profess to be Christians. Sadly, the vast majority of Christians do not read and study the Bible and, therefore, fail to come to truly know the Lord Jesus and Godís will for us. I constantly hear people (including jurors in my trial) proclaim "yes, Iím a Christian. I believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!". I too, used to be that ignorant to Godís word until I READ IT for myself.
The "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" was a "law of Moses", or "the law" under the OLD covenant that God had made with the people of Israel (See: The Old Testament: Ex. 21:24, Lev. 24:20 and Deut. 19:21). Jesus clearly rebuked that Old Covenant Law when He said "You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also." (See: New Testament: Mth. 5:38,39). Jesus brought about the fulfillment of Godís new covenant with us that was foretold about in the Old Testament (See: Jer. 31:31-33, Is. 42:1-7, Is. 61:8, Mth.26:28, Mk. 14:24, Lk. 22:20, & Heb. 10:9). Jesus did away with the laws of Moses when he nailed them to the cross (See: Col. 2:14, also Heb. 8:7-13). That is why we are no longer to make animal sacrifices to God, or kill people for breaking the Old Testament Laws such as: (See chart below):
OLD COVENANT CRIME REQUIRING DEATH: SCRIPTURE:
1) Murder Ex. 21:12, 14, Lev. 24:17, 21
2) Striking father or mother Ex. 21:15
3) Kidnapping Ex. 21:16, Deut. 24:7
4) Cursing father or mother Ex. 21: 17, Lev. 20:9
5) Harming pregnant woman Ex. 21:22, 23
6) Knowingly owning a violent ox that kills someone Ex. 21:29
7) Sorcery Ex. 22:18
8) Bestiality Ex. 22:19, Lev. 20:15, 16
9) Working on the Sabbath Ex. 35:2, Num. 15:32-36
10) Adultery Lev. 20:10-12, Deut. 22:22
11) Human sacrifices Lev. 20:2
12) Homosexuality Lev. 20:13
13) Blaspheming the name of the Lord Lev. 24:16
14) False prophecy Deut. 13:5
15) Worshipping false gods Deut. 13:6-10
16) Disobeying a priest Deut. 17:12
17) Disobeying a parent Deut. 21:18-21
18) Raping a betrothed young woman Deut. 22:25
19) Losing virginity before marriage Deut. 22:13-24
Whereas God gave laws to Moses and the Israelites that included for law breakers to be killed by "man", He also exhaulted murders and adulterers to His glory.
Many people know that Moses worked miracles by God and brought the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land; but did you know that Moses murdered an Egyptian prior to that? (See: Ex. 2:11-12).
Many people know that David wrote approximately 73 Psalms, and was chosen by God to be the King of Israel; but did you know that David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then intentionally sent her husband into front-line battle for the sole purpose of getting him killed? (See: II Sam 11:2-24). Yet he was declared by God to be a man after His own heart. (See: Acts 13:22).
Many people know that Paul wrote approximately half the books of the New Testament; but did you know that prior to his writings, Paul (whoís name was Saul) persecuted the early Christians, and oversaw and approved the murder of Stephen, the first Christian martyr? Yet he was still hand-picked by Jesus to be an Apostle after committing those sins (See: Acts 7:58-8:3, 9:1-22 and 13:9).
Moses, David and Paul clearly exemplify Gods love, forgiveness and allowance for repentance (rehabilitation). With The Old Testament Laws done away with, and our New Covenant in effect, we are now commanded to do the same.
It is understandably all too easy for victims of violent crimes, and victims that have lost loved ones to senseless acts of violence to seek revenge in the form of killing the person responsible for their suffering; but what does God command of us? God commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (See: Mth. 22:36-40, Mk. 12:29-31, Lk. 10:26-28, Rom. 13:9-10, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8, Mth 19:19, I John 4:7,8) ; to FORGIVE, not avenge (See: Mk 11:25,26, Lk 6:37, Col 3:12-14, Rom 12:19, James 1:19-20 and Mth. 6:14-15); and even to love our enemies. (See: Mth. 5:43-48, Lk. 6:27-29, Rom. 12:14-21). This is because God knows we all make mistakes. We "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (See: Rom. 3:23).
When an adulteress (who under The Old Covenant was to be killed) was brought to Jesus, He again rebuked the old law by telling the people "let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone at her". Jesus did not condemn her, but instead ordered her to sin no more (John 8:3-11). Jesus demonstrated three things here; 1) The Old Covenant being replaced with The New Covenant. 2) Forgiveness. 3) Rehabilitation being more important than a vengeful punishment inflicted. His judgment of her not only brought her out of certain death, but into no punishment by man at all because he knew she would never commit adultery again (was rehabilitated). Jesus clearly showed us that the important thing is for a person to stop the sinning and follow Godís commands.
It is one thing for a police officer (authority figure) to kill an evil doer in the commission of an act of violence who fails to submit to him (See: Rom. 13:1-5), but it is another thing to take a person who has already been apprehended and imprisoned and murder him. Nowhere in The New Testament, which contains Godís commands for us to follow, does God tell us that we must, or should, execute evil doers; most especially those that are imprisoned. In fact, Jesus says of His coming day of judgment, that he will condemn those who do not tend to His people in prison! (See: Mth. 25:31-46). God even instructed the prophet Ezekiel to write: "Say to them, 'As I live', says the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways.'" (Ezek.33:11). These scriptures again demonstrate God'scommands for us to love, forgive, and assist in rehabilitation; not capital punishment.
All these noted scriptures are the Word and Will of God (See: II Tim. 3:16). We are commanded to spread Godís Word to all nations. (See: Mth. 28:19-20, Mk. 16:15 also II Tim. 4:2). Jesus even instructed us to pray that Godís "will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" (See: Mth. 6:9-13, Lk. 11:2-4). Most of you probably say that Prayer without realizing that we are to do our part by following and spreading Godís Will.
I implore everyone reading this, to at least read Godís Word for yourselves in all the Scriptures I have noted.
If reading the New Testament and learning Godís commands of us does not make you understand that capital punishment (The Death Penalty) is wrong, then please envision and ask yourself this; if your son, daughter or closest loved one made a mistake and committed a capital offense, would you accept for your precious loved one to be carried off and put to death? Or, would you suddenly realize that capital punishment is murder and needs to be abolished?
To those who have lost loved ones to senseless acts of violence, my deep, deep sympathy goes out to you. There may be nothing worse than such a tragic occurrence, but vengeance does not bring our loved ones back. "Closure" is merely a term made up by man, not God. God promises us "comfort" through His Holy Spirit. "See John 14:16, II Cor. 1:3-4). So to you, and to those who have lost loved ones to government sanctioned murders, I pray that God comfort you and bring love and peace into your lives.
With love from a brother in Christ and innocent prisoner on Texas Death Row,
Bobby (II Thes. 2:16-17)