My Thoughts on the Death Penalty

1st woman jury, Los Angeles (LOC)

Plinky Prompt for July 26, 2010: Do You Believe in the Death Penalty?

**I’ve looked over those daily Plinky Prompts for a while now, and this was one I felt I should answer.

I hate to break this to you, but, we’re all going to die. Remember What About Bob? The doctor’s son? Well, turns out he was right. We’re all under the death penalty. Trouble is, most of us don’t know it, yet. Or, we know it, but we’d rather just not think about it. Not until that call comes at two in the morning; the terminal diagnosis; or the man with a loaded revolver pointed in our face asks for any last words. Sooner or later, we’re all going to die.

But, Plinky, you asked me whether I believe in the death penalty and you think I’m waxing philosophical? Okay, my response would be, yes–I believe in the death penalty–and we’re all under it. But, if you’re asking me, do I believe it is moral, ethical or just to take someone’s life for taking someone else’s life, then I would have to honestly tell you, I don’t honestly know.

As a Bible believer I have heard many of the arguments for the death penalty, which I took as being Gospel truth. But now I beg to differ. I would have to submit that I err on the side of “no, Plinky, I do not believe in the death penalty,” and admit that every now and then I wonder if I might still be wrong.

My apologies to anyone reading this who may not know the Bible or what it says. I never like it when several people are sitting around talking, and then a few of them go off in their mother tongue while the rest are completely clueless. I hope I’m not doing this to anyone here.
Nor is this is intended to be a sermon or a lecture. It’s just that there is no other way for me to explain the reasons I lean toward not believing in the death penalty without telling you where my reasoning comes from. Feel free to disagree with me, I’m not entirely certain I agree with myself on this all the time, but God allows us time and freedom to come to logical conclusions when we genuinely question things.
None of us should feel pressured to concede to something by the forceful persuasion of others, though. So, if that’s you, step away from the blog, please.

Here’s why I lean toward not thinking so (most of the time):
God did not require Cain’s life. God still used Moses after he had murdered a man and fled into the wilderness. God forgave David for the murder of Uriah the Hittite and later called him a man after his own heart, and God rose up the Apostle Paul from a Christian-murdering zealous Saul. Seems to me, he really meant it when he said mercy triumphs over judgement.

God forgives with no strings attached. He told the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning, but didn’t say she would still be punished by the law.
There are other reasons, too, but, what clinches it for me is that Jesus said if we even so much as want someone dead in our hearts, we are already guilty of murder. Which pretty well brings us right back to where I started–we’re all under the death penalty (unless, of course, you are a perfect person).

Penalties? Yes. Death penalty? I’m not so sure. If there is a chance we may be murdering the wrong person; if we have other alternatives; if we can save a life instead of destroy one, I tend to think we, too, should choose mercy over judgement.


  1. Death penalty seems to ride right up there with abortion. Very controversial!

    I am a lot like you in my beliefs. I was told certain things I MUST believe in as a Christian and then, I felt that God guided me to see things the way he wants them to be seen.

    The Good Samaritan is a good example, as are the ones you listed.

    Jesus selected the worst of the worst to do his calling and teaching, and the best of the best were not pleasing in his eye, and in fact murdered him. The very lawmakers and Bible thumpers, that cried out the laws were broken. They knew the laws alright, but not the heart.

    So I do believe we need to be very careful in how we judge, and err on the side of love and mercy, as you have done in this post.

    Great job in presenting with LOVE.

    Jesus stood trail for our crimes, and he paid the ultimate death penalty.

  2. Matters of law and justice are tricky. We can’t live without them, either–and laws must be enforced to be effective.

    Perhaps the bigger crime against mercy are the lax penalties for so many things. I don’t think one can truly appreciate mercy until one truly understands the severity of their offence.

    I think Jesus brought it down to being a heart matter, though. We like to think we’re doing pretty good, as long as we’re not like that… well, that ‘murderer’ over there. We forget our own arsenal of poisonous wares–gossip, slander, hatred, envy, malice… are just as lethal.

    As you say, Jesus paid the ultimate death penalty–we don’t get what we deserve.


  3. I think you make a strong case…but I DO believe in death penalty. In fact, the bible itself shows that God did not hesitate to strike down the wicked. Yes, we should not judge, and we should not kill, but in that same law, God allows there to be judges and punishments in order to protect the righteous. I DO believe that God forgives any sin, but He’s also a righteous, just God who treats sin with severity and fairness.

    Of course, the problem comes when the death penalty is used too liberally.

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