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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing guy for Captain D's. Hockey fan, photographer, and father of 2 awesome boys.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Tennessee is about to lift it's moratorium on the death penalty (how much irony is in that phrase). This got me thinking again over the weekend about the death penalty in general.

Now, this is actually not an issue that i was raised with a strong opinion about. I was raised with an evangelical church background- Abortion: no, Drugs: no, Gay Marriage: no, etc, etc...but the death penalty wasn't discussed much.

I think this is largely because most of the politicians that the "right wing" church back, support the death penalty. The leaders of the political evangelical movement (Pat Robertson, Richard Land, James Dobson, etc) have tied themselves to political parties and partisans instead of to issues. I don't blame them too much honestly. We aren't interested in middle-ground in the US. It is a two party system. People like me that are fiscally conservative, socially liberal, morally conservative, and a fairly strict constructionist - have no place in US politics. In order to have some of their issues address (abortion, etc) and to gain political power, they had to align with someone. They found they aligned more with "R" than with "D", so they did.

However, that forces them into a position on the death penalty that is, to me, totally untenable in light of their professed religious beliefs, so they keep quiet about it. (Though some try to defend it)

As i said, this is one of the few issues i didn't have a pre-conceived opinion about. So i was able to go all CS Lewis on it and Reason my way to the answer...

To me, the death penalty is one of the few times you Christians shouldn't have to ask "what would Jesus do?" - they can ask "what did Jesus do?". This is one of the few issues that is clearly addressed with a specific situation in the Bible. When Jesus came upon a group about to stone a woman to death, he flatly declined to participate, and show the woman compassion.

Jesus wasn't about condemnation. He was the exact opposite. He was about hope and 2nd chances (and 3rd, and 4th...)

Who else still has the death penalty? Is this the crowd we want to be a part of?
(click for larger version, here for original)

I don't see any reason to have the death penalty in this day and age. The only possible reason I could see defending it (though it would be amazingly cruel and immoral) would be if it saved money. If we didn't have to pay as much to keep people around in prison. But it actually costs more, so even that horrible, inhuman position is indefensible.

It just doesn't make sense.


MichaelnotMike said...

This woman was caught in adultery and Jesus' response suggests (to me) that those wanting to stone her were hypocrites guilty of the same sin. Is if fair to extrapolate from this (death for adultery) situation to suggest that Jesus opposed capital punishment in all situations including murder? Over the years I gone from a staunch supporter of capital punishment to a bit of a waffler, but for other reasons. Thanks for your insight.

Paul Nicholson said...

Good thoughts. I guess i just use this as a specific clear example, but i feel like Jesus' life and teaching as a whole was about 2nd (and more) chances, and about repentance and forgiveness.

That was his whole point wasn't it?

Amy Nicholson said...

As much as I sometimes hate this about myself, I'm not an extreme passifist when it comes to government actions. I think that there is such as thing as justifiable war, and that there are extreme cases where the death penalty is the best option.

I am grateful for 2nd chances, but the people who are put on "death row" are those who are considered too dangerous to have ANY chance to be around people ever again. They're going to live the rest of their days in prison, with unlimited appeals to make sure that they are being judged justly. Given the options: it's unpleasant, but I think that it is better to face death quickly then rot in prison. In the American system there is a fair amount of mercy, but justice should be carried out as quickly as possible.