Why the Death Penalty is Unjust
Capital punishment being either a justifiable law, or a horrendous, unjust act can be determined based on the perspective of different worldviews. In a traditional Christian perspective, the word of God given to the world in The Holy Bible should only be abided by. The Holy Bible states that no man (or woman) should shed the blood of another man (or woman). Christians are taught to teach a greater amount of sacrifice for the sake of the Lord. Social justice is their chance of realization and reformation. supporting the death penalty as The Lord teaches us the importance of forgiveness. On the other hand, in a non religious, traditional American sense, the death penalty is surely justified given some of the gruesome, evil crimes that human beings have done and continue to do. This is a strong point, so strong that there are some Christians who argue the death penalty is justifiable for similar reasons as well. There are even arguments stating the death penalty is unjust because of discriminatory reasons. Using sources from The Bible and outside perspectives, arguments for both sides, as well as my perspective will be presented in this essay
Some Christians who are not in favor of capital punishment look to The Bible to remind themselves of Jesus’s teachings which us children of the Lord are supposed to abide by. Such as forgiveness. There are many stories of Bible that emphasize the importance of forgiveness. For example, Romans 12:17 states, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” From this, Christians can clearly see how the death penalty completely contradicts this passage. There are also numerous amount of verses on the subject of forgiveness in the Bible. Although it may be one of the hardest tasks we are asked to do at times, the importance of forgiveness is made evident in the Bible. Verses are a reminder of who Christinas are supposed to be. For example, Matthew 15-16 states “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This should be applied to anything in life in terms of forgiveness. So the death penalty being an eternal form of punishment, it offers no forgiveness which goes away the teachings of Jesus Christ. The most confusing part about it is that there are some Bible verses directed to capital punishment as a norm in the era Jesus Christ came to earth.
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Christian supporters of the death penalty, have different ideology about capital punishment stating, certain times in the Bible where they used the death penalty to punish those who do extreme, horrendous crimes just like in today’s world. In the Old testament there are various examples of God using his power to punish people directly. For example, due to the corruptness of the earth, God decided to put an end to all people in Genesis 6:9-9:17. It was God’s judgement on mankind that led him to do so. The Bible states “11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” As you can see, this is a direct form of capital punishment from the Lord himself. The Old Testament also shows us that God established capital punishment in The Torah, which is the book of God’s Laws. As a matter of fact, the use of the death penalty and capital punishment was active before the Laws in the Old Testament. In Genesis 9:6, capital punishment is based upon a belief in the sanctity of life. It says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God, He made man.” There were a lot of sins in the Old Testament that if committed, people were punishable by death. Things such as murder, adultery, bestiality, rape, etc.
Another argument against the death penalty is not an argument for whether it is too gruesome of a punishment or not, but it is that the death penalty should not be used because it discriminates. Often, there are studies recorded on race and whether or not that affects someone’s sentencing. Throughout every state, there was the same pattern occuring. Which is men of color being sentenced to death for the same or similiar crimes a white person would get a lesser charged for. An article written on deathpenaltyinfo.org stated “Examinations of the relationship between race and the death penalty, with varying levels of thoroughness and sophistication, have now been conducted in every major death penalty state. In 96% of these reviews, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both. The gravity of the close connection between race and the death penalty is shown when compared to studies in other fields. Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease.” Statistics on deathpenalty.org also showed that in 2019, 57% of black males were sentenced to death while 13% were Latino, 20% was white and 10% were Asian. This has been happening for years and when confronting Judges about the issue they just said that the information gathered is not enough to prove bias judicial decisions. Some instances showed that the evidence collected in certain cases in the early 1990’s were not sufficient enough to sentence a person to death. These mishaps happen when the victim wrongfully accuses a person, and/or judges have biased attitudes when sentencing. Philosophers at Stanford University came up with justifiable reasons to impose punishments and stated “…punishment is imposed on persons who are believed to have acted wrongly (the basis and adequacy of such belief in any given case may be open to dispute). Being found guilty by persons authorized to make such a finding, and based on their belief in the person’s guilt, is a necessary condition of justified punishment. Actually being guilty is not.”
My take on the death penalty is that this life or death option has much flaws. Just as said in the Old Testament where for certain crimes it should be ruled an option, is understandable. With the example of murder, for a person to take several innocent lives, those lives cannot be repaid in full, but can be considered justified to take the life of the offender. However, with the statistics of how the death penalty has been used to target minority men, I cannot support such thing. Equality for all is one thing that I will forever heavily advocate and if there is slight deterrence from that in any situation, it is wrong and should be stopped. There are issues and many points to be drawn from both sides and both Christian perspectives. The Bible shows contradicting connections on this subject so how can we really know what is right and what isn’t? Christ came to earth to share the good word and learn his ways. One of his main ways of living is forgiveness. There are many Bible verses that show his teachings. One being Ephesians 4:32 stating “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Due to the mistakes we as human beings tend to make in regards to the convicting of innocent people, our call to action from God to spread love and learn forgiveness, as well as the discrimination that has been statistically proven, some Christians decide to shy away from the death penalty. They believe that prison is a form of social justice and reform. On the other hand, Christians who comes to capital punishment’s defense state in certain circumstances where horrendous crimes are committed such as, murder, rape, kidnapping, terrorism, etc., if there is valid and sufficient enough evidence, the proposition is justified. They feel that the death penalty will prevent future crimes and put the hearts of those suffering at peace.