THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DEBATE- Introduction
Christians who believe in capital punishment and Christians who don’t believe in capital punishment use the same Bible to support their positions. So who’s right?
THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DEBATE- Legitimate form of punishment
I firmly believe that the Bible does in fact teach that capital punishment is a legitimate form of punishment for certain capital crimes (particularly for murder). God’s will on the subject is clearly set forth in Genesis 9:5-6 where He states to Noah: “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.”
THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DEBATE- Government for Our Protection
The early chapters of Genesis reveal that God instituted human government for our protection. As part of that protection, human government has been given the authority to extract “a life for a life.” You might be asking:” Why should the murderer receive such severe punishment?” Because to murder people who are made in God’s image is to show contempt for God, not to mention mankind.
THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DEBATE- Commanded to Noah
It’s interesting to note that while capital punishment was set forth by Moses (Ex. 21; Deut. 19), the command given to Noah actually precedes the Mosaic law and therefore appears to be a universal principle. However the allowance of capital punishment is not just found in the Old Testament. The principle is reaffirmed in the New Testament as well. For example, Romans 13:1-5; here we have the statement that the governing authorities can and should use force to maintain peace and order. The Apostle Paul even states that the authorities “do not bear the sword in vain.” By the way, the sword was the Roman symbol for the death penalty. As well, Jesus acknowledged the legitimacy of capital punishment before Pilate (John 19:11), as did Paul before the Roman Governor Festus (Acts 25:11).
THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DEBATE- Conclusion
Capital punishment was instituted by God when human civilization began, and it was never repealed by Jesus nor by His apostles. There is one thing to remember: the death of the body does not necessarily mean the death of the soul. In fact, those who are facing the electric chair may very well be receptive to the free gift of eternal life through faith in Christ. On capital punishment, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.