Friday, September 9, 2011

Applauding for Executions


When Gov. Perry of Texas was questioned about the 234 executions in his state at the September 7 GOP debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, the audience broke out into loud applause.

I am stunned by this.

As a Christian, I follow an executed man. 

As I read the story, God choose the worst way to die, the lowest of all means of public shame and abandonment, because Jesus came to all who are abandoned, to be with all who are shamed, with and for all who are lost. Only there on the cross could God's love for all the world be fully demonstrated. In the lowest of all places where a human being might be found, God is there.

I imagine Pilate reporting to Caesar about the number of executions carried out in Galilee under his watch, and I can imagine the Roman Senate breaking out into applause.

I can understand why some would applaud the death of 234 people; yes, there are some who love the smell of blood. But anyone who takes Jesus and his cross seriously, I can't imagine them joining in that applause. 

We must remember what justice means in the Bible - putting things back together again in the right way - restoring the lost - helping the fallen - giving life, offering the second chance and forgiving many times. 

Capital punishment is never justice - because it restores nothing. It might be legal, and I suppose one can make a legal case for it, but capital punishment is vengeance in its final form - there is no going back, life cannot be restored for either the victim or the perpetrator, and vengeance only stains the soul all the more - the soul of those who want it, who make the decisions, who carry out the executions, and the soul of a nation that uses it.

Life imprisonment is the only acceptable alternative of punishment for a capital offense.

I have long stood against capital punishment - I can't imagine Jesus ever approving of it, who himself was the innocent victim of capital punishment. In spite of all our safeguards, too many innocent people die at the hand of the state. 

As a Christian, I cannot support it, and even more, I must do what I can to rid the land of this foul practice.

And, please, don't quote the Bible at me on this one.

I know all the relevant verses, and all the related history.

If you want to live in an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth, kind of world, we'll all end up toothless and blind, and what good will that do?

Kindness is always in season!

1 comment:

Ama M. said...

Pastor Tom, Your brief summary of justice with words like "restore" "putting things back again in the right way", "forgiving many times" is indeed a powerful lens with which we can heal lives and build a more caring humanity. Thank you for taking the courage to educate us. Ama M. California Christian