by Dennis Van Scoy
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Nearly every time a deadline approaches to terminate the life of one convicted of a capital crime such as murder, a public furor is raised and protestors gather from both sides of the issue to voice their strong opinions regarding execution.
On the liberal side people equate government execution as an act of "vengeance". They proclaim "vengeance belongs to the Lord", and support that statement with Scripture found in Deuteronomy 32:35. These protestors view capitol punishment as retribution against the convicted person, "Injury done to retaliate for injury received" (1987 Webster New Concise Dictionary). Moreover, they often make the argument that the convicted murderer has "changed", pointing to his or her life while incarcerated as reflective of rehabilitation or a transformed heart. I maintain that these people are having difficulty differentiating between the self-centered, emotionally-motivated killing of a human being, with that of a legal and moral responsibility for social preservation in accordance with God-directed biblical guidelines.
The crime of murder is always selfishly motivated. It is performed by an individual or group of individuals against one or others to facilitate some personal motive or gratification. That is precisely the very act forbidden by Almighty God in Exodus 20:13…..an act of personal, motivation. Vengeance also is a personal, selfish motivator. It feeds off a need for retaliation stemming from emotional inspiration,or personal gratification rather than the biblical and just governmental obligations to God and society.
In the Biblical book of Genesis (Chapter 9 and verse 6) God Himself says: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed:" (KJV), and speaking in regard to governmental authorities in Chapter 13 and verse 4 of the book of Romans, we are told that God has delegated to legitimate governments the responsibility of "….revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (KJV). Such acts of execution (by our government) are in obedience to God's instructions and intended to purge and protect our society (by legality not emotionalism) from the violence of some selfish, murderous individuals. In such cases, the government is acting in complete accordance to a responsibility immediately delegated into it's control by God Himself for the greater social good.
In regard to rehabilitation, let me say as a Christian and a retired law enforcement officer that I believe real, permanent rehabilitation is a "myth" within our human judicial system. I believe permanent change can only be brought about by God's working in unison with a truly penitent human heart. A person awaiting execution for a brutal crime indeed has strong motivation to deceive the naïve by putting on the "face of change". He for certain, would easily be able to do any number of good deeds or say anything to convince others to sway the government to shirk it's duty to execute. All Christians know that the Bible is clear that all offenders(even Christians) must face life consequences for their actions….God demands that government enact a penalty upon those who do evil (Genesis 9:6) for the protection, regulation and greater good of human society. God is still in control of all things and He is indeed moved through the prayers of His people. He has the real power to stay any execution! No one escapes His justice.
In the unfortunate cases where innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death, God remains in control. The prayers of believers have the power to bring about that stay of execution, or procure the release of one incarcerated, but if by tragedy an innocent is executed it would be because our human system has regrettable, honest failings, and we do not possess the divinity to see inside a heart. God looks at our intent….our motives. He knows our frailties and limitations, He forgives individuals and governments for unfortunate mistakes. No one dies unless God allows the death to take place for His purpose and greater plan. People trying to frustrate government's compliance with, or stand in opposition to God's will as written in the Holy Bible are either foolishly misunderstanding God or are themselves trying to "play God".
Our government spends millions of dollars each year for the housing, feeding and support of the thousands of convicted killers on "death row" in prisons throughout our country. Each one has gone through multiple appeals and new trials at huge government (public) expense. Evil, liberal organizations such as the A.C.L.U. launch costly suits against our state governments trying to obtain more legal rights for convicted murderers, further exasperating and tangling our system at huge public expense. No one is executed in America today without exhausting due process. God gave us a set of guidelines for living….they are found in the pages of the Holy Bible.
The American judicial system today does everything it can to pamper and protect convicted murderers. I would only wish that we would do as much to protect our innocent yet-to-be-born babies from the selfish murder of abortion and our country's precious children from the predatory advances of murderous pedophiles freely prowling our nation's streets.
In the seventeenth chapter of Deuteronomy in the Bible, God gives instructions to His people Israel for (the government)to execute some violent offenders in order to "….purge the evil from among you" (NIV). True, we are to extend mercy, but that's what exhausting our legal system is about….mercy and justice. Beyond that, we need to expect our government to obediently purge the evil from among us and leave providence to the hand of God.
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Dennis You did a fine job. A good use of Scripture. Thank-you. Don Costello
Dennis, An absolutely brilliant column! May God bless. Sincerely, Dan Blankenship