The Bible and Capital Punishment
What Does Christianity Tell Us To Do In Case Of Extreme Crime?
Capital Punishment, commonly known as the death penalty, is one of the most controversial problems of our society today. There are many stands you can take with it: yes; no; maybe; only in this situation; only if this doesn’t happen. Even the Bible is undecided about what to do with people who commit such horrendous crimes.
The Bible first mentions what to do in case of extreme crime in Genesis 4:11-15. In this passage, the Bible is talking about two brothers, Cain and Able, who have presented gifts to God. After God denied Cain’s gifts and instead accepted Able’s, Cain became outraged and killed his brother. The Bible tells us that:
‘Now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to
receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;… a fugitive and a vagabond
shalt be in the earth. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore, whoever
slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken in him sevenfold.’ (King James Version)
In this passage, ‘God cursed Cain for the murder and sent him to wander the earth. God put a mark on Cain’s body, so that nobody who saw him would be motivated to kill him. If anyone killed Cain for the murder of his brother, they would be severely punished’ (‘Conflicting Penalties’). This states that banishment and exile are the proper forms of punishment for murder.
But, contradicting itself the Bible then goes on in Genesis 9:6 to say, ‘Whoso shedeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.’ (KJV)
What this passage tells is that death is an okay punishment for murder, because murder is a personal offense to God. God created man, and to kill someone is to kill part of God (‘Conflicting Penalties’). The death penalty is not only mentioned in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. In Romans 13:3-4, it is said that
‘For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil… If you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of
God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil’ (KJV).
This passage is saying that you must be careful what you do, and only practice the good things in life. There are many punishments for the evil things that a person does, and everyone should be aware of them.
According to the book of Numbers, before an execution can take place, there are three main requirements that must be met:
there must be two or more eye-witnesses to crime (35:30)
no bargains or ransoms are to be accepted for the accuser’s life (35:30)
The victim’s blood defiles the land. The only way that you can change that is to kill the murder (25:3334) (‘Biblical Penalty for Murder’).
Murder is not the only thing that the Bible allows death as a punishment for. According to an outline called ‘The Bible and Capital Punishment,” the old...