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The death penalty must be applied properly, with caution, and according to what scripture lays out. A person needs to be given due process, the evidence must be presented, and circumstances must be considered. There has been a lot of debate and controversy regarding the death penalty (Muryani & Rosyida, 2020). For example, two foolish people in a drunken bar fight, one of which dies, is not a case for the death penalty. But, on the other hand, a man hiding in the bushes in the park with a rope in his hands, waiting for a young girl jogging alone, must be put to death. That’s just one example of someone who forfeits their life. A million-dollar question has become debatable globally regarding the biblical view on the death penalty, and I sure must say there is no right or wrong answer, only individual opinion and choice on this matter.
The Role of Death as a Penalty
Punishment is actually not a very effective teacher. It may teach people not to do something but at a great cost to their spiritual progress and ability to love themselves, life, and others. Those who receive punishment are full of shame, anger, and resentment; this is a hell they must learn to release themselves from. Because punishment leads to further sinful entrenchment and misery, it’s ultimately counterproductive to spiritual progress (Sahni & Junnarkar, 2020). Punishment is a man’s way of remedying crimes and mistakes, and humankind has yet to recognize its ineffectiveness (Carroll, 2022). Punishment perpetuates pain and negativity and does nothing to heal it. According to biblical teachings, man’s sinful nature causes all crimes, mistakes, and suffering.
The Bible presents death as separation: physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. The whole world is subject to death because all have sinned. Biblical doctrines state that by one person sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. The Lord warned Adam that the penalty for disobedience would be death. It is written in the Bible that when Adam disobeyed, he experienced immediate spiritual death, which caused him to hide from Lord God among the trees of the garden. Later, Adam experienced physical death.
Significance of Death as a Penalty
God himself decreed the death penalty on Jesus Christ, his son. The humans did what humans do, and God knew they would because Jesus Christ was God, and the humans were not. That is why people are sinful, unjust, messed up and cruel because they want to be God, which is literally a creation trying to enforce its creator to be the creation instead. Christians should seek to obey God and respect the courts that God has put in place, but if any law is against God, a Christian is required to lay their life down in obedience to God, not man. The Death Penalty is about Justice (Mbah et al., 2019). It is not about retribution or vengeance. It is simply the just act for the life that has been taken. Convictions are not always accurate in that some judgments might be mistakenly delivered to a suspect who happens to be an accomplice of the main suspect. Also, the death penalty is purely in the Old Testament.
In summary, the solution is not to entrench people further into their sin by punishing them but help them see that they are not sinners. Love is what heals and brings people out of their “sinful nature” and nothing else. Love, acceptance, kindness, compassion, and attention are the key elements that people need for good spiritual life. The reality is that rapists, pedophiles, warlords, war criminals, murderers, deceivers, hypocrites, thieves, adulterers, priests, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Atheists all have one thing in common, death. Death is not what we should be worried about but what comes after.
- Carroll, E. (2022). The Death Penalty: Does it Have Any Place in Modern America? Line by Line: A Journal of Beginning Student Writing, 8(1), 10.
- Mbah, R. E., Pruitt, T., & Wasum, D. F. (2019). Cruel choice: the ethics and morality of the death penalty. Research on humanities and social sciences, 9(24), 14-22.
- Muryani, M. A., & Rosyida, N. (2020). The Concept of Death Penalty in a Pancasila State (Perspective of Official Religion in Indonesia). Walisongo Law Review (Walrev), 2(2), 131-158.
- Sahni, S. P., & Junnarkar, M. (2020). The Death Penalty: Perspectives from India and Beyond. Springer Nature.
- Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (1990)