Law and Order continued....
A POSTSCRIPT ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
For Christians as with society in general, the death penalty
for murder has always been a controversial subject. The law given to Noah and
to Moses did stipulate the death sentence for murder by stoning, but as we now
live in what is known as the age of God's grace in which He is
willing to forgive sins where there is repentance, how should we react to such
a serious crime as that of murder? It is nowhere taught in Scripture that
repentance towards God should exempt an offender from being dealt with by the
law of the land.
There is an interesting example in the New Testament of a
woman who was accused of adultery, and the case was brought to Jesus for His
adjudication; but He neither condoned nor condemned the woman. He forgave her
and told her to sin no more. One can hardly consider that as a precedent for today.
The position was quite unique. Jesus the All-wise One had all the facts and as
Supreme judge He decided to drop the case for the prosecution.
In the book of Romans it declares that the powers that be
(eg the officers of the law) are ordained by God and as such they are His
secular ministers, and they do not bear the sword in vain. The New
Testament also teaches that the law is made for the lawless and the
The grace of God is available to enable us to live righteous
lives, but when that grace is spurned then the law must take its course.
In many countries now capital punishment no longer obtains
and perhaps the strongest argument against its return (however right many think
it to be) is the fact that there has been a spate of cases where subsequent
evidence has found that the judgement was flawed and the alleged offender
wrongly executed. False imprisonment can at least be compensated, but death is
final, and some would say that it is better that a guilty man goes free than an
innocent man is hanged.
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