- May 16, 2014
The Old Testament of the Bible speaks with perfect plainness on the issue of capital punishment:
“He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Exodus 21:12).
Genesis 9:6 and Leviticus 24:17 also give full authority to those sitting in judgment to execute a
murderer. Deuteronomy 19:11-13 commands unsparing punishment for such a killer: “…deliver him
into the hand of the AVENGER OF BLOOD, that he may die. Thine eye SHALL NOT PITY HIM,
but thou shalt PUT AWAY THE GUILT of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.”
Strong words, those. The God of the Old Testament clearly favored the death penalty.
The scriptures show that Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament.
In the New Testament book of Romans, God REAFFIRMS that authority:
“Let every soul be subject unto the governing authorities. For there is no authority except
from God, and the authorities that exist [speaking of man’s governments and courts] are
appointed by God.… For he [a government or court official] is God’s minister [“servant”
or “magistrate” in some translations] to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he
does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an AVENGER TO EXECUTE
WRATH on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4; New King James Version).
The God of love tells us in such scriptures as Hebrews 12:5-6 that for our own good those who
commit wrong must be corrected. Correction is the God-given means to prevent crime and other
problems. Using strong correction FORCES CHANGE in criminals convicted of lesser offenses
and eliminates entirely the threat of those convicted of violent crimes such as murder.
“Punishment, when meted out in the proper manner, and at the proper time, is one of the
greatest blessings a human being—at any age—can receive!” The reason is that if we do
not receive correction, we will proceed on a course to our own destruction (Proverbs 14:12).
Through correction, God can steer us in the path toward a happy, fulfilled life.
Many people reject God’s clear commandments involving implementation of the death penalty.
And though the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, Americans have
demenstrated a fear to sternly correct evildoers, and are vacillating in their determination to use
the God-given option of executing people for horrible wrongs.
As the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover once stated about our modern permissive society,
we have “substituted INDULGENCE for discipline.” The result is that our prisons are full
to overflowing and our society is inundated in violent crime.
In Proverbs 19:18, God gives us the principle that applies to disobedient children, juvenile delinquents
or hardened criminals. We are told, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for
his crying” (Proverbs 19:18). There comes a point for an undisciplined child when there is no (or very
little) hope of correcting bad behavior. Often, a delinquent—and finally a hardened criminal—will result
because the parents were too soft during their child’s early years, when they had the greatest hope of
curbing the child’s self-centered and destructive ways.
As parents and as a society, we are not to “spare for his crying” by lessening the punishment. Proverbs
13:24 admonishes us, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him DISCIPLINES HIM
PROMPTLY” (NKJV). For the good of society and the individual, swift, stern justice must be meted
out when wrongs are brought to light.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us the importance of swift punishment when it says, “Because sentence against
an evil work is not EXECUTED SPEEDILY, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them
to DO EVIL.” How clear and wise! When wrongdoing is not immediately punished, then all or almost
all of the deterrent value to any subsequent punishment is lost!
As for determining a person’s guilt, there is only one biblical rule: “Whoever kills a person, the
murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient
testimony against a person for the death penalty” (Numbers 35:30). Deuteronomy 17:6 agrees:
“Whoever is worthy of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses,
but he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness” .
In God’s eyes, repeated reprieves and appeals—and now, insistence upon DNA testing to
verify guilt—should not be necessary for death-row inmates.
Ezra 7:26 guides us toward speedy response to crime by stating, “And whosoever will not do the
law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be
unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.”
The criminal mind does not respect authority. The only thing such a person respects is equal or
stronger FORCE! And when that strong force is used immediately to severely punish an offender,
it makes others of like mind think twice before acting likewise.
However, once again, the liberal element in our society says there is little deterrent value in
punishments such as the death penalty. They have a point—but only because of how hesitant
our courts are to use the death penalty!
The Deterrence Factor
No sane man or woman wants to put another person to death. It is understandable to have
a certain degree of pity for someone who is going to die, even if he or she deserves to die.
People who commit crimes are promised a fair trial—NOT a perfect trial. Yet so many of the
habeas corpus appeals (many of which amount to little more than stalling tactics) are procedural
and/or frivolous in nature, nit-picking the court over minor imperfections in court procedure.
Flawed humans will make mistakes. But that must not stop us from following God’s plain commands!
A swift death penalty was intended by our Creator to deter or restrain additional people from com-
mitting the sin of murder. To stop or delay the death penalty because the courts are afraid of making
a mistake is direct disobedience to God and His laws!
Many a career criminal has already proven he cannot “make it” in normal society; and if he murders,
rapes, robs and commits general mayhem, SO WHAT? He knows he’ll be provided food and shelter
for the rest of his life so that he never has to work again!
Why should he fear to kill? Even though he probably murdered unmercifully, the “merciful” liberals
will see to it that HIS life is spared so that the taxpayers can support him for the next 20, 40 or 60
years in a prison environment where he is “somebody”—a “man among men” so to speak!
We must not get softer on crime, we must get tougher!
The book of Proverbs states, “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise,”
and “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware” (Proverbs 21:11; 19:25). People can
learn vicariously from the experiences of others!
The deterrent effect of the death penalty is muted because of current practices. But even
basic understanding of human nature tells us that, if administered properly, the death penalty
would have a significant deterrent effect!