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Who Deserves To Die?

Today I was reminded of a memory from my childhood. For a time we lived with my Nana when I was younger. I remember many things while she was alive but this has stuck with me for some reason. She didn’t mess around with many magazines, in fact, I think her favorite was the TV Guide. She did have a subscription to Time though. I’ll never forget one of the covers. I remember it saying “Who deserves to die?”, and it being about the death penalty, but my memory isn’t the best. It was about the death penalty, but I think the question above was one I made up in my mind, and answered, when I saw this cover.

The Cover that made me think. (Credit: http://www.time.com)

I was about ten years old when I saw this. I can remember asking my dad if he thought this man should die. His answer was no. That is what my answer was, from then on, regardless of his guilt of innocence. I’ve thought this way for many years, but I am just now able to justify my way of thinking. The thing that gets me, several people try to justify the other viewpoint, the same way.

Several people will say IF that was my daughter, I’d kill the guy, or I’d flip the switch myself IF that was my son. No You Wouldn’t! All it takes is words to say such things. It takes something else altogether to actually go through with them. The people with the guts to do so, are already in that predicament. IF you were capable, you would be there too, in my humble opinion. Since you like “IF” statements so much, how about some questions.

What IF you were the person that had one too many? What IF you decided to drive home? What IF you accidentally hit someone and killed them? How would you feel if the family and friends of that person were crying for your death? Not exactly the same thing you say? Okay, how about this. What IF you have this neighbor? What IF you and this neighbor don’t get along? What IF you and this neighbor have a disagreement and get into a fight? What IF you go to far and you end up killing him? How does it feel to have all the “IF’s” stacked against you. I know there are some people out there that will say I would want to die, or I would want the death penalty anyway. Again I say, No You Wouldn’t! Until you are in those situations you should not decide how you would act. Remember, the only thing we can control is ourselves. We have to think about how we should act instead.

The go-to scripture for capital punishment is the following;

22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. ~ Exodus 21: 22-25

Do you guys know where this takes place in the Bible? That’s right, this is from the Old Testament, before we had the teachings of Jesus Christ. We can still learn from these scriptures, but we cannot ignore the ones that have been given to us afterwards. The Bible isn’t there to make your argument. No, it’s there to help us all learn and grow closer to our Heavenly Father. And plus we have scriptures from the New Testament like this one;

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; ~ Matthew 5: 38-44

So, how do you feel about the death penalty now? Okay, how about this one;

1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst. 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. ~ John 8: 1-11

If you still believe in the death penalty that’s okay. I have to say that I disagree with you, which is also okay. Capital punishment is as ancient and barbaric as the books you can find it in. (Yes, including the Old Testament. Slavery was alright back then too, remember?) Even if you don’t believe in the Bible you have to admit that the ideas within it are things we can all live by.

What do you think about this subject, and why?

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This post was inspired by Lynne from Free Penny Press, and this post from today.

24 thoughts on “Who Deserves To Die?

  1. Thisis a tough one for me in all honesty. I pray God I never be tested in either way..I.e. Victim, or cause of the damage.

    I appreciate your honesty on this though, well written post!

    1. Thank you. I understand why it’s tough. I just don’t like seeing people making those sort of decisions before it’s necessary for them to. No one know what they’ll do in those situations until it really happens to them. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I am not a religious person, but this gave me pause. I often say that I would easily flip the switch, but I don’t know if I could. The thing about killing is that it still leaves somebody dead, no matter what the intention or justification. I don’t believe I could take someone’s life.

    Great piece.

  3. Absolute no to death penalty. I am not even going to justify it. You can’t take away another person’s life, nor you will ever have enough evidence to say why someone did what they did, and the hesitation (mental illness, manipulation, whatever else) makes it impossible for me to support that notion. I do not have the right to take anyone’s life.

    I don’t understand this (okay now I’m going into justification, but just one short rant) – if someone is being nasty to you, or cruel in any way, no one (in their right mind) calls for you to be cruel back? You are to be above that. Walk away, or punish, but in a humane way.

    An eye for an eye is not a rule a conscious society can live by.

    1. Well, okay, a bit more ranting:
      I understand the argument that if someone raped or killed my child I would like to do the same to them. I probably would like to do that. Maybe I *would* do that even.
      But this would be my personal revenge because I am weak, and I am a single human.

      What I am completely against is a rational, society-approved notion of punishment in this way. A personal vendetta is one thing, a societal norm is another.

  4. I may not be religious, I may not be a bible type person – but killing a human, for any reason just doesn’t sit right with me. I am a dirty hippie at heart. As humans I don’t think we should be passing judgement over our fellow humans. I don’t think we should be condemning others to die….

    But what do I know?

      1. haha!
        where I come from, dirty hippies are evil communist bastards…. (well that is what my family thinks anyway)

        1. I’ve been accused of being a tree hugging, pinko commie bastard many times. With this post I wanted to show that a ‘religious’ person can still be sensible. Instead of peace, love, dope I say peace, love, hope. (To anyone else watching this is NOT an endorsement of any kind for anybody.)

          1. you totally showed that – love it.
            i am usually “turned off” by religious stuff…. but you are one classy dude… you do it right (in my humble opinion)

  5. Great post Jon..The thing that changed me from the “I’ll flip the switch” mentality was through a discussion someone brought up this fact: Why would we advocate killing a person because his crime is more horrific than another persons? The loss is still the same for victims, death. is one death more deserving of a stricter sentence than another? No. they are equal. Then the factor of only 3 people know the undeniable truth, the victim, the accused & God. That being said, you can not sentence to death a possibly innocent person..Life without parole is the only sensible option.

    1. The only counter-point I would make here is that we do not exert justice only for the action, but also for intention. Whether it’s right or wrong, our (Western? Can’t say for everyone) system works this way.
      In this way, I wonder whether I wouldn’t argue that e.g. if I was to be killed, I’d probably rather be shot by accident, than deliberately bound, raped, beaten, cut up and then strangled. And perhaps I’d hope for the punishment to be more severe in the second case even though, yes, ultimately I’d die.
      But I do not have an answer in all honestly. Just something I wonder about sometimes.

  6. You put me in mind of Pat Robertson and many of his followers regarding the impending death by execution of a woman (I forget her offense). Though many were ardent supporters of the death penalty, they advocated strenuously for leniency for this woman based on her conversion to Christianity. I recall her repeatedly saying that one or the other particular thing “Blessed my socks off.”

    I could not kill another human and I do not support capital punishment. Like you, I believe murder is murder.

    1. That’s interesting. You would think that good Christian people would be calling for leniency, regardless of a persons religious affiliation. That’s like saying Christians are the only good people around. Not a very good way of thinking. Thanks for your comment.

  7. I used to be in favor of the death penalty. But then I learned more about what the penal system is really like. There are so many people on Death Row who are probably innocent. There are also many people on Death Row for crimes that seem not to justify the punishment. Sentences are handed down so haphazardly, so inconsistently, and so unfairly. Also, as I get older I see how it’s a stain on us as fellow humans to take away a life in the name of “justice.”

  8. Wow. Good argument. I guess I do not have an opnion on this topic yet. I am going to give this some thought this week. Thank you for stimulating my thoughts.

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