Summary: A biblical worldview without question supports the use of capital punishment. Calling it into question is a sign of the extent to which Christians have adopted a modern, secular mindset.
Does anyone remember the name Karla Faye Tucker? In 1998 hers was briefly a household name as she was slated to be the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. What made the case even more controversial was the fact that Tucker had become a born again Christian while on death row. Her faith was so genuine that she eventually admitted to having helped murder two people with a pickax although she initially pled not guilty at her trial. Prominent people from the world over petitioned then Texas governor, George W. Bush, to grant Tucker clemency. Pat Robertson, Pope John Paul II, Newt Gingrich, the president of Italy, as well as the president of the UN tried to influence the governor to spare her from execution. Many evangelical Christians, who typically support the death penalty, felt that she should be forgiven and spared the consequences of her earlier actions. Were the people calling for clemency correct or should she be executed?
More and more Christians today are rethinking their stand on capital punishment, even in situations where there’s no controversy involved. The biggest question they grapple with is: How do we reconcile biblical themes like mercy and compassion with taking the life of another human being? Isn’t execution rather barbaric and uncivilized? Would Jesus be in favor of the death penalty?
What I hope to demonstrate this morning is that the Bible is crystal clear on this issue. A biblical worldview without question supports the use of capital punishment. Calling it into question is a sign of the extent to which Christians have adopted a modern, secular mindset.
God, Himself, commanded the death penalty for the murderer immediately after the departure of Noah and his family from the ark. It’s a universal law given to humanity. It’s not a Jewish ceremonial law specific to the Israelite covenant with God. Nowhere is the command to execute the murderer set aside in the Bible. Jesus never annulled it and Paul affirmed it in his letter to the Romans.
Rather than just tell you, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that does it!” I want to give you some reasons to support capital punishment. These ideas do arise from the Bible. Because its precepts are truth, we can rely on them to align with reality. God’s word works in the real world because it’s true.
3 Defenses of the Death Penalty
1. It demonstrates the value of human life.
This is the number one reason given by God to Noah. His exact words were:
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Genesis 9:6 (NIV)
God gave mankind the right and responsibility to execute the murderer. Why. Murder is an attack on a person created in the image of God. It’s an indirect attack on God Himself. The life of every single person has value because we are made in God’s image. This value is extended to the brightest, the strongest, the most beautiful among us to the most mentally incapacitated, the most physically handicapped, and the most deformed. The image of God gives us value from conception to old age. The image of God is the reason why we are to treat other human beings with dignity and compassion.