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Should believers support the death penalty in the United States?

death penalty criminal justice in America capital punishment

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#1
sweethomeliving

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I once believed that capital punishment was necessary and a biblically authorized way to deal with serious crime. I was told that it was a deterrent and that only the worst-of-the-worst would be subject to this sentence.

 

I don't believe any of that anymore. Through study, interviews with those who work in prisons, interviews with the incarcerated and reading about this topic I've turned into an opponent of the dealth penalty in the US for a number of reasons.

 

Now that DNA testing has freed so many who were on death row as well as so many others who were falsely convicted but not given the death penalty, the types and frequency of errors that send innocent people to prison make me doubt that it is a moral to maintain a dealth penalty. There is no doubt that innocent people have been executed recently.

 

Another reason I don't believe in the death penalty is that it is not a punishment for the worst-of-the-worst in many or even most cases. The idea that a person can be reprobate, unable to receive God's grace or improve his/her life is not a biblical concept. Furthermore, many are on death row for being an accessory to a murder, while the one who committed the murder received a lesser sentence.

 

There is no evidence that capital punishment serves as a deterrent to serious crimes. These are mostly committed out of passion, not out of reasoning. They are far too common among people from poorer neighborhoods and broken families who have been bombarded with violence and influenced by violent people from their youth. Most are people younger than 25 who have not yet developed their ability to project consequences from actions.

 

For these reasons and more, I no longer believe that Christians should support the death penalty.  I look forward to your comments and perspectives.


Edited by sweethomeliving, 03 December 2013 - 12:13 PM.


#2
OakWood

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I once believed that capital punishment was necessary and a biblically authorized way to deal with serious crime. I was told that it was a deterrent and that only the worst-of-the-worst would be subject to this sentence.

I don't believe any of that anymore. Through study, interviews with those who work in prisons, interviews with the incarcerated and reading about this topic I've turned into an opponent of the dealth penalty in the US for a number of reasons.

Now that DNA testing has freed so many who were on death row as well as so many others who were falsely convicted but not given the death penalty, the types and frequency of errors that send innocent people to prison make me doubt that it is a moral and just to take someones life through execution.

But that's only the start of my reasons and I don't want to begin this with a book-length explanation.

Please tell me what you think and I'll do my best to supply facts and examples later on.

 

I'm a big fence-sitter on this subject - one the one hand it seems Biblical and on the other it does not. Also, if I take into account the reasons that you have already stated, I could easily be against capital punishment. Sometimes, however I believe that it may be necessary in some cases for certain crimes. At this stage in my life, I'm not sure. If you'd asked me five years ago, I could have given you a definite answer.

 

However, I will say this. I do believe that we are too soft on crimes these days (that's all Western countries) thanks to political correctness, moral relativism, and a tendency to treat the criminal more favourably than the victim.



#3
WillfromTexas

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I agree with you totally.  Why do we kill to show that killing is wrong I've always said.  That doesn't mean if it was one of my own family members that it would take every ounce of Christianity to not want them dead.  We as Christians should set a better example or at least try.

 

If you ask me a life sentence without parole is a much harsher punishment than death.  These days it is just like a medical procedure and the killer feels no pain. 

 

Killing killers doesn't really help society much less deter killing.  Just watch the First 48 if you don't believe me...  We also have the capabilities to house them for their lifetimes.

 

Now there are some sickening examples of luxuries allowed killers that should be stopped.  They shouldn't be allowed to marry or porn delivery- whatever...  It should be punishment with rehabilitation without parole.  The punishment should be harsh because the crimes are the worst.

 

That's my 2 cents.



#4
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I used to be for it, but over the last few years I've come to see it as something the world uses to punish their own. I'm not a part of that system so I rarely give it any thought. As was already stated, there are flaws in the way executions are carried out, (ie. executing innocent people) and to me, that's flat out murder. 

 

I'm not a big supporter.



#5
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Moving this to a more appropriate forum. Please continue the discussion. :thumbsup:



#6
shiloh357

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I have known a people who were against the death penalty until their child  or someone they knew was murdered.  When someone whom you love is murdered, it changes your perspective from it being an academic issue to something far more personal.

 

God's own system of justice allows for the death penalty and we cannot operate from a higher moral plain than He does.



#7
Qnts2

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I once worked with a person who used to be a prison guard. I thought of all people, he would be for the death penalty. I was surprised to know he was against it. It was not just the number of false convictions (and that is a factor), but that the death penalty says there is no hope for this person. This former guard admitted he had met a couple of people who were  socio-pathic, no conscience, no empathy, thought killing was fascinating, no grief etc. But, when it comes to our court system, we can not ensure that the death penalty is always just (for the guilty), applied to those there is no hope for, but only those few who are totally reprobate.  The court system can not tell the difference. So for the sake of the innocent who were wrongly convicted, and for those who might hear the gospel and believe, I am now against the death penalty.  



#8
sweethomeliving

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I once believed that capital punishment was necessary and a biblically authorized way to deal with serious crime. I was told that it was a deterrent and that only the worst-of-the-worst would be subject to this sentence.

I don't believe any of that anymore. Through study, interviews with those who work in prisons, interviews with the incarcerated and reading about this topic I've turned into an opponent of the dealth penalty in the US for a number of reasons.

Now that DNA testing has freed so many who were on death row as well as so many others who were falsely convicted but not given the death penalty, the types and frequency of errors that send innocent people to prison make me doubt that it is a moral and just to take someones life through execution.

But that's only the start of my reasons and I don't want to begin this with a book-length explanation.

Please tell me what you think and I'll do my best to supply facts and examples later on.

 

I'm a big fence-sitter on this subject - one the one hand it seems Biblical and on the other it does not. Also, if I take into account the reasons that you have already stated, I could easily be against capital punishment. Sometimes, however I believe that it may be necessary in some cases for certain crimes. At this stage in my life, I'm not sure. If you'd asked me five years ago, I could have given you a definite answer.

 

However, I will say this. I do believe that we are too soft on crimes these days (that's all Western countries) thanks to political correctness, moral relativism, and a tendency to treat the criminal more favourably than the victim.

 

Most people believe we are too soft on crimes these days. But would it surprise you that the US prisons contain 25% of the world's incarcerated? We are the most incarcerated nation in the world!! I think we need to consider whether we are the worst people on the planet or whether our method of dealing with crime is not working.



#9
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I don't support it because it is a deterrent.  I support it because when a murder takes place, it defiles the land.  The only way to cleanse the land is through execution of the murderer. 

 

...for blood it defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Numbers 35:33



#10
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No  I don't support it.  I don't believe in killing any person who is not saved unless it is to save another.    Capitol punishment is murder whether or not it is sanctioned by the law.



#11
sweethomeliving

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I once worked with a person who used to be a prison guard. I thought of all people, he would be for the death penalty. I was surprised to know he was against it. It was not just the number of false convictions (and that is a factor), but that the death penalty says there is no hope for this person. This former guard admitted he had met a couple of people who were  socio-pathic, no conscience, no empathy, thought killing was fascinating, no grief etc. But, when it comes to our court system, we can not ensure that the death penalty is always just (for the guilty), applied to those there is no hope for, but only those few who are totally reprobate.  The court system can not tell the difference. So for the sake of the innocent who were wrongly convicted, and for those who might hear the gospel and believe, I am now against the death penalty.  

That's excellent insight.  To add to what you said about the court system not being able to differentiate between the reprobate and those who could change: we need to remember that it's juries who vote to convict and either recommend or determine the death penalty. These jurors are usually novices or at best amateurs at law who are responding to prosecutors who are talented at selling their perspective. Many of those on death row have trial records that contain issues of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective defense.

If you would like to get more information about these issues, visit www.WordsOfTravis.com and get the inside view of death row.



#12
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I don't support it because it is a deterrent.  I support it because when a murder takes place, it defiles the land.  The only way to cleanse the land is through execution of the murderer. 

 

...for blood it defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Numbers 35:33

Thank you for your perspective. I also used to have that perspective until I saw how God Himself did not always hold to that view. For example, He did not destroy Ninevah although they were a culture of brutal murderers. He did not have King David executed for murder and adultery, although that's what the Law required. And Jesus stepped into a situation of a lawful stoning of a woman caught in the very act of adultery, and when her accusers left He did not require her death to cleanse the land. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul was guilty of the murder of Christians before he was converted.

 

I now believe that if the gospel is the gospel of grace, we must likewise be a people of grace and allow for the lawbreaker to repent.  Thanks again for your perspective.



#13
sweethomeliving

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No  I don't support it.  I don't believe in killing any person who is not saved unless it is to save another.    Capitol punishment is murder whether or not it is sanctioned by the law.

Thank you for your perspective. I can understand how so many Christians support the death penalty from the Bible.  But there are many portions of Scripture that do not make the position so clear. I agree with you that it doesn't benefit our nation to have the death penalty.



#14
Butero

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I don't support it because it is a deterrent.  I support it because when a murder takes place, it defiles the land.  The only way to cleanse the land is through execution of the murderer. 

 

...for blood it defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Numbers 35:33

Thank you for your perspective. I also used to have that perspective until I saw how God Himself did not always hold to that view. For example, He did not destroy Ninevah although they were a culture of brutal murderers. He did not have King David executed for murder and adultery, although that's what the Law required. And Jesus stepped into a situation of a lawful stoning of a woman caught in the very act of adultery, and when her accusers left He did not require her death to cleanse the land. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul was guilty of the murder of Christians before he was converted.

 

I now believe that if the gospel is the gospel of grace, we must likewise be a people of grace and allow for the lawbreaker to repent.  Thanks again for your perspective.

 

Just because God chose to pardon certain people when they deserved death doesn't mean that the truth in Numbers has changed.  The land is still defiled by the shedding of innocent blood.   In the case of David, he was severely punished.  In the case of Ninevah, they were a heathen nation that had no knowledge of the laws of God.  The woman caught in the act of adultery wasn't a murderer.  Saul was doing what he did in ignorance, so God had mercy on him.  He believed he was carrying out the law by killing heretics.  If anything, the problem with prison overcrowding would lead me to conclude we need to make more crimes capital offenses.  At the same time, we could de-criminalized things such as drug crimes.  Many of the prisoners are in jail because of possession of drugs.  Go back to hanging thieves.  Execute child molesters.  By doing those things, you will greatly decrease the prison population.  To reduce the cost of executions, we could return to simple methods like hanging and a firing squad.  We could also limit the number of appeals. 



#15
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I have known a people who were against the death penalty until their child  or someone they knew was murdered.  When someone whom you love is murdered, it changes your perspective from it being an academic issue to something far more personal.

 

God's own system of justice allows for the death penalty and we cannot operate from a higher moral plain than He does.

I agree with you that being a victim of a serious crime or parent of a victim of a murder makes it difficult to not want the death penalty. The lie perpetrated to these hurting people is they will get some satisfaction through justice. But this is not a call for justice, but for revenge. Revenge belongs to God and will not bring satisfaction or relief to the victims or their families. Only forgiveness can do that.

 

But consider this as well: being the victim or the family of a loved one falsely convicted would likewise change your perspective of the issue, wouldn't it?

 

Therefore, considering this issue from a personal perspective really settles nothiing.  Yet I agree with you that God's own system of justice allows for the death penalty, but His own restraint in so many cases in Scripture does not seem to make it a requirement.

 

Thank you so much for contributing your perspective.



#16
sweethomeliving

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I agree with you totally.  Why do we kill to show that killing is wrong I've always said.  That doesn't mean if it was one of my own family members that it would take every ounce of Christianity to not want them dead.  We as Christians should set a better example or at least try.

 

If you ask me a life sentence without parole is a much harsher punishment than death.  These days it is just like a medical procedure and the killer feels no pain. 

 

Killing killers doesn't really help society much less deter killing.  Just watch the First 48 if you don't believe me...  We also have the capabilities to house them for their lifetimes.

 

Now there are some sickening examples of luxuries allowed killers that should be stopped.  They shouldn't be allowed to marry or porn delivery- whatever...  It should be punishment with rehabilitation without parole.  The punishment should be harsh because the crimes are the worst.

 

That's my 2 cents.

Thanks WillfromTexas.  I know that although Texas leads the nation in capital punishment, it's only because of a few counties and not the whole state.

 

I would encourage you to read some of the articles on my daughters' blog  www.WordsOfTravis.com and get an inside perspective of what prison is like.  Thanks again.



#17
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I have known a people who were against the death penalty until their child  or someone they knew was murdered.  When someone whom you love is murdered, it changes your perspective from it being an academic issue to something far more personal.

 

God's own system of justice allows for the death penalty and we cannot operate from a higher moral plain than He does.

I agree with you that being a victim of a serious crime or parent of a victim of a murder makes it difficult to not want the death penalty. The lie perpetrated to these hurting people is they will get some satisfaction through justice. But this is not a call for justice, but for revenge. Revenge belongs to God and will not bring satisfaction or relief to the victims or their families. Only forgiveness can do that.

 

But consider this as well: being the victim or the family of a loved one falsely convicted would likewise change your perspective of the issue, wouldn't it?

 

Therefore, considering this issue from a personal perspective really settles nothiing.  Yet I agree with you that God's own system of justice allows for the death penalty, but His own restraint in so many cases in Scripture does not seem to make it a requirement.

 

Thank you so much for contributing your perspective.

 

God doesn't require any nation to have the death penalty, but it is necessary to cleanse the land.  That is an eternal principle.  There is nothing that says America must have a death penalty, but I am in favor of it.  There have always been some innocent people put to death, and God knew that would happen, yet he still instituted it in the law. 



#18
sweethomeliving

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The death penalty is only one aspect of the criminal justice system that Christians should be aware of.  Here is another:

 

The US has the largest percentage of it's population incarcerated than any other nation in the world.  We account for 25% of all incarcerated people in the world although our total population is a much smaller percentage of the world's population.

 

Criminologists are not sure why violent crime rates drop or increase since there are so many sociological issues involved. Police and prosecutors will say that tough prison sentences cause crime rates to drop, but crime rates also respond to job availablity and government services.

 

Even if tough sentencing and longer incarceration does lower crime rates, many experts are screeming that incarcerting this many people will have huge impacts on cities and neighborhoods.  Eventually these people will get released and the brutal hardships of prison life leave them unable to function in normal society. With the stigma of "felon" always following them--thanks to the internet--they will not likely get substantial employment.  The impact of incarceration is not just on the incarcerated, but on their families, or future families, on their neighbors and essentially on all of us. 

 

So, considering all of this, how should Christians respond to those who have commited crimes? Should we be angry, vindictive, let them bear their consequences no matter how severe? Should we treat them like pariahs--hated and rejected by all?  And how should we vote? For stiffer punishment and tougher laws? 

 

Let me know what you think.  And although I'm getting sort of preachy on this subject, I do respect your opinion if it differs from mine. So long as you know the facts!



#19
shiloh357

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I agree with you that being a victim of a serious crime or parent of a victim of a murder makes it difficult to not want the death penalty. The lie perpetrated to these hurting people is they will get some satisfaction through justice. But this is not a call for justice, but for revenge. Revenge belongs to God and will not bring satisfaction or relief to the victims or their families. Only forgiveness can do that.

 

There is some satisfaction in knowing that the perp will not be able to do this to someone else's child.  It will not bring ultimate satisfaction, it will not fill the emptiness, but it will and does bring some closure.

 

I don't see it as revenge at all.  God sanctions this justice even though He doesn't mandate it for us.  Giving life for life is a bibliclal principle that God allows for. So it isn't a sin and doesn't violate Scripture.   And by the way, wanting justice done upon someone who murders is not contradictory to forgiveness.  Forgiveness, biblically, doesn't erase the consequence. 

 

If someone lies to me, I will never trust them again, even if I forgive them.   If you murder, the appropriate consequence is that you forfeit your life.  That doesn't mean you can't be forgiven, but that forgiveness doesn't eliminate the fact that you broke the law and you must pay the price for the crime you committed.  

 

But consider this as well: being the victim or the family of a loved one falsely convicted would likewise change your perspective of the issue, wouldn't it?

 

Yes, it would.  But our modern technology has freed falsely accused people imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit.  But that only strengthens the argument for the death penalty because we NOW have the ability to eliminate the problem of false convictions.   The arguments that pertained to false convictions 30 years ago don't exist any longer due to our greatly improved technology. 

 

 

Therefore, considering this issue from a personal perspective really settles nothiing.  Yet I agree with you that God's own system of justice allows for the death penalty, but His own restraint in so many cases in Scripture does not seem to make it a requirement.

 

The point is not that God requires, it but He allows it and for that reason, being pro death penalty doesn't place one at odds with  the moral/ethical standards of Scripture.



#20
Butero

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The death penalty is only one aspect of the criminal justice system that Christians should be aware of.  Here is another:

 

The US has the largest percentage of it's population incarcerated than any other nation in the world.  We account for 25% of all incarcerated people in the world although our total population is a much smaller percentage of the world's population.

 

Criminologists are not sure why violent crime rates drop or increase since there are so many sociological issues involved. Police and prosecutors will say that tough prison sentences cause crime rates to drop, but crime rates also respond to job availablity and government services.

 

Even if tough sentencing and longer incarceration does lower crime rates, many experts are screeming that incarcerting this many people will have huge impacts on cities and neighborhoods.  Eventually these people will get released and the brutal hardships of prison life leave them unable to function in normal society. With the stigma of "felon" always following them--thanks to the internet--they will not likely get substantial employment.  The impact of incarceration is not just on the incarcerated, but on their families, or future families, on their neighbors and essentially on all of us. 

 

So, considering all of this, how should Christians respond to those who have commited crimes? Should we be angry, vindictive, let them bear their consequences no matter how severe? Should we treat them like pariahs--hated and rejected by all?  And how should we vote? For stiffer punishment and tougher laws? 

 

Let me know what you think.  And although I'm getting sort of preachy on this subject, I do respect your opinion if it differs from mine. So long as you know the facts!

If they committed serious violent crimes, execute them.  Then they won't be put back on the street.  If they are minor offenses, when they have served their time, treat them with the same respect you would any other citizen.






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