Christian view on the death penalty

I’ve always had a clear position on the death penalty. I don’t believe in it. I think that if I didn’t grant someone’s life, I have no right to take it away regardless of their actions. Let me clarify that birthing or providing the seed for a child is participating in the process of life, in my definition only God grants life. The whole I brought you into this world and I’ll get you out of it may be a choice of a discipline scare tactic, but in the practice it’s still considered murder.

Thou shall not kill” has a particular effect in my line of thinking. The other reason for my position against the death penalty is because after watching hundreds of hours of real life crime shows and seeing how many innocent people have been sent to death row, some have been saved, some have been executed, I don’t think I could bear the responsibility of being convinced by a prosecutor that someone needs to be put to death and then killing the wrong person. Well, the whole idea of me consenting to killing another person makes my stomach churn. I would be your worse juror in a death penalty case.

As I was doing research last week for my Jeffrey Dahmer article, (if you missed it you can read it here) I read something that caught my attention. During his conversion process, Jeffrey Dahmer spoke about how he should have died for his actions, but the jury spared his life and he didn’t believe he deserved it. He thought of suicide, but at the same time he wanted to please God and he had discovered that was not the route. The Pastor helping him through his new found journey told him the following:

At my next meeting with Jeff, I began with his question,

“Am I sinning against God by continuing to live?”

I told him, “Romans 13 does say God has placed a sword in the hand of the governing authority. That’s why I agreed with you last week when you said you thought the state should have put you to death.”
“Yes,” he replied.

“But has the state failed its duty by not putting me to death?”
“I can’t answer that question. I can say that God has put a sword in the state’s hand, and the state has that right from God. This state has apparently chosen to lay down its sword and take up a rod instead.

Read more of their conversation here

Then I looked into what Romans 13 said, and I read in verses 1-5:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.


So as I understand the comment from the Pastor and the Scripture, God has given permission to the authorities to judge other people’s wrong doings and establish punishment,, including the sword which I would understand would be death. Therefore, would it be ok for a Christian participating as a juror in a death penalty case to agree to vote for the death penalty as they have been called to be part of the authority in those processes?

I don’t know the answer. I know this has been a heated topic of conversation recently. I know that it was highly discussed during the events that ended the life of Osama Bin Laden and more recently during the murder trial of Casey Anthony.

I think that live without parole (which is the usual option B on death penalty cases) gives the wrongly accused the opportunity to prove his or her innocence and the real guilty an opportunity of change. I am aware that some will never change, but it wasn’t I who took that option away from them, even when possibly they are in jail for taking that option away from someone else. Again this is my opinion, you can totally disagree. Didn’t I tell you I would make an awful juror?

I would love to hear your opinions on this subject, which I know are very diverse out there. All I know is that I’ve been learning a lot by researching in the Word of God on some unusual hard questions.

Waiting to hear from you,

Be blessed.

6 thoughts on “Christian view on the death penalty

  1. Reblogged this on Naty Matos' Blog and commented:

    I had to revisit this post as we are in veredict watch for The State vs. Jodi Arias trial. A woman who has confessed to murder her ex boyfriend. Her allegation that it was self-defense, although her lawyers changed their view during closing arguments to claim it was heat of passion.
    When I originally wrote this article, it was because I was studying the conversion of Jeffrey Dahmer and the posibility of Casey Anthony getting the death penalty. I have followed the Jodi Arias trial very closely and I have to say that the autopsy pictures of victim Travis Alexander will haunt me forever. I don’t have a weak stomach. I watch many real crime shows (and fictional ones) and the gruesome reality of what this men went through is beyond imagination.
    I have to admit I have struggled with my position once again. I do still firmly believe in my position that if I didn’t give life to another one, I would be a horrible juror incapable of sentencing someone to death. Do I believe this case proves premeditated murder one? I do. Is life without parole enough? I honestly don’t know and that’s where I have struggled. Do I believe she deserves the death penalty. I will rely on Romans 13:1-5 once again and let the authorities, who God has given the authority to make that decision do their job. Regardless of what the veredict is, just like I heard my favorite earthly judge, Belvin Perry, say this morning “regardless of what the earthly judges determine, she will have to face the Judge of Judges” And so we wait to see what the results will be…
    Until then, be blessed

  2. Juanuby

    Just because God has given the government the right to exercise judgment does not mean that they are exercising it righteously. In a fallen world, God has given us freedoms to make righteous or unrighteous choices. We sin if we kill, those involved in the decision sin if they decide to kill, God has given the right but are we using it righteously, I think not. In short, I think scripture is very clear on its stand on murder; it is us that try to justify our sins based on these unrighteously exercised freedoms.

  3. michellefrommadison

    Not so sure which is the bigger issue, religion or the facts that so many innocent people have wrongly been convicted and placed on death row or killed.

    1. Thanks for you visit and comment Michelle. I would definetly say that innocent people wrongly convicted is a bigger concern. Like I said, as a juror (and Thank God I’ve never been called) I just couldn’t bear that burden.

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