Day 4 – To Kill or Not to Kill

Do you agree with the death penalty? Is it ever right to kill? And under what circumstances? Is it worth the risks of being wrong?

For an interesting and surprising history ready Wikipedia’s entry on Capital Punishment (Only 58 nations actively practice it anymore).

This is a tough topic for many people, myself included. I am someone who lives in one of the 58 countries still practicing the death penalty (Which is mostly third world counties and the U.S.). It is a constant battlefield of opinion, from both religious communities, as well as political parties.
Here is one side on which I found myself sometimes. It seems just seems so very…

…practical.

I know that sounds horrible, but the honest truth is if we are to maintain a strictly unemotional, pragmatic view of the idea of killing the most morally corrupt of us. That sounds like an obviously great idea. There would be less prison costs. Less money would be spent on Psychiatric rehabilitation, and the most morally astute of us would live on and thrive, theoretically, in a place free from violence! (at least, of the unsanctioned kind)

Perhaps that is why it has been one of the most prevalent forms of punishment in history! For thousands of years it has been used, at one time or another, on every continent for everything from murder, to theft, to inciting political unrest or religious apostasy. In fact, even my own Bible records that ancient Jewish culture was full of laws that end in death for those who don’t comply. In fact, now that I think about it; it wasn’t even really a form of “punishment” at all. Punishment is for teaching, but for the receivers of capital punishment, they don’t “learn” anything. They die. So it is less like punishment and more like weeding, or pruning, or cleansing… Right?

Actually, if the death penalty is more akin to weeding or cleansing, that was what Hitler called the holocaust… That is how Sadam Hussein described his genocide and Bin Laden described actions like 9/11;

and we killed (or is it capitally punished?) all of them for those things.

But it’s different. Isn’t it?

All of that points to a problem I could chase in this blog and tease out to find out where we would end, and that is the issue of where is that perfect line of an “acceptable” and “unacceptable” death, but I am stopping abruptly right here on purpose, because there is a much bigger problem than that for me.

I claim to follow Jesus.

That means I should want what He wants. I should want what He called “His kingdom”, which in the New Testament of Bible is something very different, and upside-down, and backwards from any culture that has ever existed. It is one where my enemies are forgiven. It is a kingdom, in which, I don’t claim what is owed to me, where I give liberally to anyone who asks, where lions lay down with lambs, and justice and mercy are so intertwined that it’s impossible to see where one ends and the other begins.
This kingdom is so starkly opposed to this one that, when it comes, nothing of this world will be able to remain. But that’s the thing. The King of that kingdom said that He is so patient in bringing it because of our sakes, not wanting anyone to perish but us all to repent. “Not wanting anyone to perish”. How can I assume that a God who has been patient with mankind for thousands of years, would become tired of dealing with a criminal who has been alive for only 30 or so?
If I am to believe that his way is the best possible way to follow, or even just the only way to follow, then there is no room in my life to wish death on anyone, especially when we were all criminals of the worst kind in God’s eyes, but He died for us! (talk about backwards).
It may not be prudent or practical, but it is the only option for me. The Romans used the death penalty on Jesus. Jesus died to keep the death penalty from us.

I’ll go with Jesus, not Rome.

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