Friday, May 13, 2011

Murder Isn't Sin

I am a sucker for John Grisham novels. I recently finished his latest, the Confession, which centers on a man who was wrongly convicted for murder and awaits lethal injection on death row.

SPOILER ALERT!! The good guy gets the needle. He is executed by the state of Texas.

This book has me thinking again about capital punishment. I am strongly opposed to it, to be frank. Reading the book made me upset. Not that, in the story, the wrong man gets the punishment, but that this system of "justice" exists at all. It is violent, hypocritical, and unjust.

Philosophically, it makes no sense. We kill people because they killed people. When an individual does it, it's murder. We prosecute. When the state does it, it's "justice." I just can't get on board with this idea. Either killing is wrong, or it isn't. If it's wrong for an individual citizen, it's wrong for "the state," too. [I use quotation marks when I say "the state," because this is merely a word to make us feel better about execution. It makes us feel like a faceless entity is doing the executing. In truth, it is judges, juries, doctors, wardens--men and women, real people--doing the executing.]

Every advanced society in the world, with the exception of the United States, has discontinued the use of capital punishment.

Consider this verse:

The earth is the Lord's and everything in it,
The world and all who dwell in it. [Psalm 24:1]

If the earth and all who dwell in it belong to God, then who are we to end someone's life prematurely? What gives "the state" the authority to decide that which should be left to God alone? Christians are certainly outspoken in their belief that abortion and suicide are sin. Why? Because it's the taking of a life that belongs to God. Can anyone honestly say that capital punishment is any different?

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