Is Capital Punishment Biblical? Essay

1322 words - 5 pages

Is Capital Punishment Biblical?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.2Advocates 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 demands, therfore, one should obey. The murderer must suffer for his actions because murder is denying the image of God in the harmed individual. To murder a man is equivalent to murdering God since man is created by him and in his...

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