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Capital Punishment And The Bible Essay

1268 words - 5 pages

Capital Punishment and the Bible

     Capital punishment has always been an arguable issue and for good reason.

The Old Testament clearly calls for the death penalty on many occasions,

whereas; many of the teachings of Jesus and others in the New testament readily

denounce it.  Therefore, both advocates ands opponents of capital punishment

have Biblical references to support their beliefs.


        Opponents use the creation story to show that all are created in God's

image.  Genesis 1:27a states that “God created man in his image.”1  God, thus,

has the power to give and take away life as he chooses.  All men are to preserve

life to the best of their ability.  M. Margaret Falls says that we cannot treat

people as mere instruments to personal survival, success or fulfillment.2


        Advocates will also utilize Genesis  1:27 to prove that because man is

created in God's image, man must preserve as many lives as possible,  Therefore,

the death of one, who has murdered many, will spare the useless and countless

deaths of others.  God's command to preserve life seems much more important here

than the preservation of criminals.


        Capital punishment is never used legitimately in the New Testament.

Jesus' constant preaching of love and forgiveness shows his contempt for the

harming of others.  One example of love is found in John 15:17 “This is my

command:  Love each other.”  An example of forgiveness is Matthew 6:14 “For if

you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also

forgive you.”


        Jesus practiced what he preached by not condemning guilty persons.  In

John 8:1-11, Jesus did not let the people stone a woman that is caught in

adultery.  Jesus is known for giving people second chances.  Opponents of the

death penalty think that everyone should learn from Jesus and give others a

second chance, because the execution of a criminal cannot be justified by the

good which their death may do for the rest of society.


        As stated before, capital punishment was commanded by God of the people

in the Old Testament.  Exodus 21:14 states that “if a man schemes and kills

another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.”

Levitical 24:17 and 24b essentially say the same thing to the effect that “

whoever kills a man must be put to death.”  And lastly, Exodus 21:23 commands

that “if there is a serious injury, you are to take life for life.”


        Genesis 9:5b-6 is the simplest statement mandating society to punish

their fellow beings for murder3:  “And from each man, too, I will demand an

accounting for the life of his fellow man.  Whoever sheds the blood of man, by

man shall his blood be shed for in the image of God has God made man.”

Advocates stress that these verses are not a suggestion, but instead a command

that is not to be questioned - God...

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