Summary: Takes a look at the death penalty from a Biblical perspective to aid Christians in their thought process
WHAT SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?
OPENING ILLUSTRATION… Texas Executes Rapist-Killer; Third of the Year
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - Texas carried out its third execution of the year on Monday, putting to death a delivery truck driver who raped and killed a 19-year-old waitress nearly two decades ago.
Caruthers Alexander, 39, died from a lethal injection, becoming the 242nd person put to death in Texas since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. He requested no final meal and made no last statement before he was executed in the death chamber at the state prison in Huntsville, located about 75 miles (120 km) north of Houston. Alexander was condemned for the rape and strangulation of Lori Bruch, a married mother of a two-year-old child who worked as a waitress at a San Antonio club.
Bruch’s nude and beaten body was found on the morning of April 23, 1981, by a pair of elementary school children on their way to class. Her wrists and ankles were bound, a gag was stuffed in her mouth and a cord encircled her neck tightly. She was raped and beaten before she was strangled.
She had last been seen about two hours earlier, leaving a restaurant where she ate along with several co-workers from the San Antonio club where she worked. Witnesses spotted a van near where Bruch’s body was found, which matched the description of the one Alexander drove while making deliveries for a medical company. Police found bloodstains matching Bruch’s blood inside his van and also an earring that matched one found on her body.
Texas, by far the most active death penalty state in the U.S., last year set a U.S. record for the most executions in a year when it executed 40 people, including one woman.
I of course have only read you a portion of the article. I have left out the very gruesome details of the crime and I don’t think we need to go into all of that. The fact does remain, however, that capital punishment- the removal of someone’s life because of a crime- is something we practice in our nation. It is debated about in the news. Programs are dedicated to it. Christians argue back and forth whether it is right or not. As Christians, what should we think about the death penalty?
ILLUSTRATION / HOOK… adapted from Moral Choices by Scott B. Rae, pg. 184 1995
Imagine that you were a jury member at this trial, hearing this murder case. The jury has already convicted the person of the crime and now you are in the sentencing part of the trial. You must decide if the crime warrants the death penalty. The prosecution and the defense, at the beginning of the trial, questioned you about your views on the death penalty. You answered honestly and no one complained at the time. But now, you are face with a decision that will affect someone’s life… a death of another person. Imagine that as you are thinking this, the prosecuting attorney in his argument, makes the statement that the Bible supports the death penalty and you should vote accordingly. What will you do? How will you vote? How will you vote as a jury member with this individual’s life in your hands?
When we have any questions about anything in this life, I hope that you always reach for your Bible. This is God’s Word and is designed to be our guide in this life. It answers our questions and gives us direction when thinking about such issues as the death penalty. What does Scripture say about capital punishment?
This is a topic that is hard to figure out. Should we, as Christians, support capital punishment? I mean, Jesus does say to love and forgive and turn the other cheek… how is killing someone for a crime loving or forgiving? Are there only certain circumstances? God did say “vengeance is mine” and He is the true judge… should we leave all of this up to Him? On the other hand, God does institute government and give it the power to make laws and protect the peace. What are we to think? Christians like you and me are divided over this issue. We may have some division even in this church about the rightness or wrongness of the death penalty. What are we to think? What are we to believe?
I. IN THE BEGINNING, GOD SET THE LAW THAT LIFE IS SACRED
READ GENESIS 9:1-9
We begin looking at this moral issue with one of the most basic fundamental laws in the entire Bible. This passage in Genesis comes at a very important place. This passage comes prior to the Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses, the teachings of Jesus... we have in Genesis 9, God laying down one of the most basic foundational laws of life here on Earth.