It seems that there has always been controversy over whether the death penalty is still needed or if its usefulness is outdated. One thing is for certain, no one really wins in the end. For the family whose son, daughter, mother, father, wife, husband, etc. was cruelly taken out of this world before their time, the pain lingers on and the hopes and dreams of their loved one remain unfulfilled. Yes, justice in part was served. The person convicted of the crime will spend many years on Death Row awaiting their turn to die. For the family whose son or daughter committed the crime, they too have lost their child forever and the dreams o f what if fall flat to the floor. Is the death penalty justice or is it murder? Where should the scales of justice fall?
There are two sides to this issue: Pro-death penalty or no death penalty. Bill King, writer for the Houston Chronicle believes that society should not embrace the death penalty because it goes against what they are condemning, which is the death of another person. However, Exodus 21:23-25 and Leviticus 24:17 are pretty cut and dry about what the Bible has to say on these measures: Justice is to be measured equal to the crime.
Yet someone ultimately raises their hand and cries out, That was the Old Testament, this is the New Testament, the age of grace. Let them pay for their crime in prison until they die. Even though the grace of God and the faithfulness of God is new every morning, the world cannot forget that almost, if not all, of the laws brought into being by America’s Founding Fathers came directly from the Old Testament. What is the argument against that? In other countries, where their laws are not based on the Bible, do they not also have the death penalty? Does the person or families involved cry foul when their way goes unheard or the justice granted is too much to bear?
If the convicted person is wholeheartedly repentant, should mercy, like life without parole, be given instead of the death penalty? Regarding the truly unrepentant person who shows no remorse whatsoever, laughs about or boasts about their deed, truly the only recourse is the death penalty. To those who say, “Even the repentant person deserves to burn in hell,” in the book of Matthew 5:21-22, it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. Whoever is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. However anyone who says “you fool, will be in danger of the fire of hell.” In this text, Jesus puts murder and anger as equals. The only difference between the two is that in one case, the act was carried out. In the other case, the act was meditated upon seriously, but not acted upon for fear of getting caught and punishment meted out.
As he was studying cases that dealt with horrific murders in which individuals with little or no motive had sadistically taken someone’s life, Bill King believed the death penalty was completely deserved. Has he ever been angry, really angry? Angry enough to think the worst about someone and believe that the world would be better off without them? Is the death penalty a deterrent in stopping senseless crimes? Unfortunately not! A staggering figure from USA Today reports that in 2013, the number of people who were executed for their crimes was up 15 percent. To the person standing on the outside looking in, seeing that violent crime has not gone down because of the death penalty, have the scales of justice been found wanting?
Serial killer Ted Bundy was executed January 24, 1989, at Raiford Prison in Stark, Florida. Before he was executed, he had a final interview with renowned psychologist James Dobson. During that interview, he said that he was guilty of the crimes he committed and accepted the punishment for his deeds. He went on to say that he did not blame pornography or the violent videos he watched. He did the crimes, but those things helped shape and contribute to the violent behavior he committed. Bundy also told Dr. Dobson that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his savior for the forgiveness of his sins.
For those on Death Row who make an outward confession and profess faith in Jesus Christ, it could be very easy to say that their “sin” has been absolved and they in turn should be set free. There will be those who will say that they did this just to get out of the death penalty. However, to say that they did not make the choice to surrender their life to Jesus is not for anyone to say. Only God knows what is inside the human heart. As far as paying for their crime, if death was meted out, they need to accept it and not try to squirm out of it. The death penalty today still serves its purpose and hopefully those who are contemplating committing an act that warrants death will see that the scales, when they fall, are not measuring out murder, but true justice.
Opinion by John Thomas
New International Bible(Printed)