According to Scripture, the Bible favors the death penalty. Capital punishment not only deters crime; it is the ultimate and greatest deterrent because the murdering criminal realizes that the imposition of sentencing will mean no probation and no parole. Society, according to God’s law, has a right to defend itself and take the life of those who commit murder with premeditation.
I. Capital Punishment is taught in the Scriptures.
Genesis 9:4-6 teaches that life is preciously made in God’s divine image. Murder is a strike at God, who created man. God requires, according to Genesis 9:6, the life of the murderer.
The laws and ordinances of Exodus again remind us in Exodus 21:12-15, of the sacredness of life. James 1:14-15 describes the corruptibleness of sin that bringeth forth eventual death. It is the right of the people to impose capital punishment for murder offenses.
Other scripture references declare God’s intentions toward life. These Scriptures are: Exodus 20:13, Exodus 21:23-25, Romans 13:3-5, and Acts 25:10-12.
II. Many Governmental Laws Seek To Banish Capital Punishment.
In 1972, in the case of Furman verses Georgia, the US Supreme Court ruled 5 -4 that capital punishment was unconstitutional. This nullified the existing death penalty statues in forty states and the sentences of six hundred and twenty nine death-row inmates.
On July 2, 1976, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in the Gregg verses Georgia case that the death penalty, at least for the crime of murder, is not a cruel or unusual punishment. Presently, state legislatures have passed death penalty statues, yet there is not a federal death penalty legislation on the books.
After World War II, the death penalty became less popular. Newsweek stated, “there were 82 executions in 1950; 49 in 1959; and finally two executions in 1967.” Much of the decline resulted as a result of legal battles that were waged by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
III. Our American Society is Concerned
According to a recent Gallup poll, sixty-five percent of Americans now favor capital punishment. This percentage is up from forty-two percent in 1986. Most people believe that capital punishment is an effective public deterrent to murder and a permanent deterrent in preventing the murderer from committing additional crimes inside or outside of prison.
At least one study by Dr. David Phillips, a sociologist at the University of California at San Diego, confirms that capital punishment acts as a “deterrent to murder for at least two weeks after a highly publicized execution. On the average, homicides decrease by 35.7%,” explained Dr. Phillips.
Death penalty executions are such a slow process now due to the ability of criminals to appeal and appeal. Many people are beginning to complain. “I feel the same way the majority of people in the United States feel about the death penalty,” stated former Texas Judge Michael McSpadden. “Enough is enough of these appeals. It’s time to enforce the laws.”
Former Governor, George Deukmejian, probably brought the “delay” issue more into focus when he complain ed that of all the men on the California Death Row, the state Supreme Court had reviewed the cases of twenty three and of that number only thirteen convictions had been upheld.
Senator Dennis DeConcini (D. Arizona) writing in the American Legion magazine, presented the use of capital punishment into correct perspective:
“If we in this country are to administer a successful criminal justice system, we must first consider what qualifies as justice. Obviously, the most simple and direct form of justice is restitution-compensative to one who has been wronged. But in reality, restitution often is not possible. When an innocent human life has been lost, restitution is not among the options from which blind justice can choose. Punishment becomes the alternative. It logically follows that the more severe the crime, the more severe the punishment applied. We have, in this nation, admirably adhered to the protection of individual rights; yet we should not in that process forsake our responsibility to protect the rights of society as a whole. And, in these cases (murder cases where the murderer was sane and represented a threat to society)...capital punishment emerges as the only vehicle for ensuring those rights.”