The death penalty issue divides Christians. I am open to both sides of the debate. One piece of this discussion, however, is touched upon in Ecclesiastes 8:11 – Men will continue to do evil if the sentencing of an evil deed is not executed quickly.

The question that always arises is: Does the death penalty deter future crime? I believe it does ONLY if carried out quickly as this verse says. In this way, evil people would have more fear of the consequences. Today, however, with the legal system and individual protections, death penalties are never carried out quickly. So if your argument for the death penalty is based on it deterring more crime, I would say that is not true in today’s society.

Some Christians who are against it say it would send someone straight to hell. Others say if the criminal doesn’t find God facing death he/she never will. Others maintain that all human life can be changed for the better so no one should be executed for what they do. These folks tend to favor life sentences, but others argue that this costs taxpayers too much money.

God’s Law condemned adulterers to death by stoning, but Jesus did not stone that guilty woman. Does the New Covenant of Grace nullify God’s Old covenant desire for capital punishment?

I know that governments have the authority to execute certain criminals, but my question involves God. does God want the death penalty in operation in societies? What should the Christian belief be on this issue. One problem I might add is that any death penalty system will not be perfect. Certainly people with more money would have a better chance to “beat the rap” therefore putting poorer folks at an unfair disadvantage.

As a society becomes more lawless, this issue intensifies no matter what side you are on. Please comment and try to use Scripture to support your beliefs.

Feedback so far:

NF – Interesting…hard to decide but God is in control.

MM – To go through all the appeals to execute someone is more expensive than a life sentence. My objection to the death penalty is based is my belief that; psychologically, when a society takes life under one situation, it invites the people in that society to logically conclude there may be other conditions under which a life may be taken. i.e. abortion, euthanasia, that guy down the street that “needs killn’ etc. Laws may control the “criminality” of the who is allowed to kill, but the minds and hearts will be affected by the reality of the lives taken!

GR – As Jesus forgave the men who tortured and murdered Him one would be led to believe that Jesus Christ would oppose the death penalty since, as Christians, we are to be like Jesus and forgive people who trespass against us. In theory that’s a wonderful way to think and live, but in reality if someone murdered my little girl, I would want them punished and then killed, or better yet, I would kill them myself. I am a STRONG believer in the death penalty and want to see more executions to rid the earth of vermin that kill. Finally, I do not think the death penalty is a deterrent at all, most murders are crimes of passion or robbery, so the thought of the punishment does not come up.

Dave to GR – I fully understand your anger if someone killed your daughter, but remember what the Bible says about vengeance – it belongs to God alone. And I fully understand how this can be very difficult for all of us under certain circumstances, but with God’s Spirit in us, all things are possible.

TH – There is a difference between vengeance and justice for a crime. Christ does teach forgiveness, but there is still repercussion for your sin (the wages of sin). If the punishment for murder is the death penalty as established by the government, you will still stand trial by your peers and if found guilty, you may be put to death. However, forgiveness from Christ can still be achieved if you repent and ask for it. Therefore, you may still face your punishment as prescribed by your government, yet still be with Christ in heaven. Not saying that government is always right in their justice system, and I am not referring only to US government. Just my thoughts.

MH – I question if some things Jesus said are really as simple as they sound. I usually conclude that His Words are simple, but putting them into action is hard. I haven’t done research on the death penalty so I don’t know a lot about it. However, I have been studying about forgiveness and know what the Bible says about that. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I would choose to forgive the person as incredibly difficult as it may be. I would hope to have the support of fellow Christians to help me forgive when I don’t ‘feel’ like it and to persevere until I know that all anger and bitterness is gone.

AR – There are people in The Bible who were instantly killed because they disobeyed God. Harsh, but you better believe those who came after were Way more careful.

Dave – Yes, and that’s why God probably did it. He needed to have strong deterrents in those early days in order to preserve enough life for the Messiah to be born to men. My theory.