Faithlink Discussion: Capital Punishment
by Jacob Juncker
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” Jesus. Matthew 5:39, (New Revised Standard Version).
Unequivocally, The United Methodist Church takes a stand to “oppose capital punishment and urge its elimination from all criminal codes.”
When another life is taken through capital punishment, the life of the victim is further devalued. Moreover, the church is convinced that the use of the death penalty would result in neither a net reduction of crime in general nor a lessening of the particular kinds of crime against which it was directed. The death penalty also falls unfairly and unequally upon an outcast minority. Recent methods for selecting the few persons sentenced to die from among the larger number who are convicted of comparable offenses have not cured the arbitrariness and discrimination that have historically marked the administration of capital punishment in this country. We will continue to advocate for the final elimination of this act of barbarism, which has no room in a civilized society, nor in a country that prides so much on its Christian heritage.
This statement by the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church is to the point: and I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think there is much argument on this one: the death penalty is wrong.
You should know that I’ve never had anyone near to me murdered nor, for that matter, do I have any exposure to anything but petty crime. So, my viewpoint may be a bit naive and idealistic. Yet, the death penalty, it seems to me, offers simple answers and cheap relief–kill those who kill–rather than looking into the issues that drove the person to commit the crime in the first place (what causes a person to take another’s life?). Killing people doesn’t solve social ills: killing criminals hasn’t killed all the criminals.
People can be transformed: even the most “heinous” criminals. Transformation is a basic tenant of the Christian faith! Through the grace of God, experienced in the person of Jesus Christ and lived in through the communityof faith, transformation can occur! Even a criminals can be perfected in grace: to think otherwise would limit the transformative power of God’s grace.
As Christians you would think that we would know and deplore with all our being the atrocities of the death penalty. Afterall, Christ, the Savior of the world, was executed! and raised from the dead that all might find forgiveness, even those on death row.
Dear God, we pray for one another, for our country, for those on death row, for those who have been executed, for those families and loved ones who mourn the death of a victim of violent crime, and for those families and loved ones who have lost a loved one to capital punishment. Amen.
If you want to know more about The United Methodist Church’s stance on the death penalty, click here.