Capital Punishment Essay - Christians and the Death Penalty

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Christians and the Death Penalty

Almost all societies have dispensed with the principle of "an eye for an eye," and considered it a step toward more enlightened civilization. Christians who cite "an eye for an eye" in their defense of the death penalty are usually unaware of the strict criteria that God imposed before it could be used to take human life. The Old Testament also allowed the death penalty for crimes that today we consider less than misdemeanors -- clearly, the Old Testament law is archaic. Finally, Jesus himself argued against the principle of "an eye for an eye."

Most societies dispensed with the "eye for an eye" principle of punishment centuries ago; indeed, it is considered one of the great …show more content…

But the classification of enemies is an intellectual exercise, one that changes with changing group identification. The result is the very moral relativism which conservatives and libertarians normally decry.

3. A law based on revenge serves no purpose; the purpose of punishment should be to reform the reformable and quarantine the unreformable. For those who say revenge serves the purpose of satisfying the emotions of the victim's families, there are several responses: 1) Life in prison is a severe punishment in its own right, and should fulfill this need; 2) Revenge does not bring the loved one back; 3) Revenge may make things worse for innocent people -- not just the mistakenly convicted, but the future innocents who fall victim to the higher murder rates that follow executions -- which is surely not the family's intent; 4) Our laws should be based on logic, not emotion, as overwhelming as the emotion might be. Laws based on emotion lead to barbarism. Victim's families are superior to the criminal precisely because they are not barbarians.

Some Christians point out that the principle of lex talion ("An eye for eye") was commanded by God in the Old Testament. But if Christians really knew the ins and outs of this law, they would never quote it in defense of the death penalty. First, Jehovah ordered very strict criteria to be used in determining whether a death

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