capital punishment

capital punishment - Rebecca Austin December 6, 2010 THEO...

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Rebecca Austin December 6, 2010 THEO 100 Wickman Capital Punishment: How Much Authority Should Humans Have Over the Lives of Others? United States courts have long debated the morality of capital punishment as a penalty for certain crimes. Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the act of using execution as a punishment for certain crimes. Currently, the “court has prohibited the death penalty for all crimes except murder.” 1 The death penalty is, however, not mandatory for every murder – the court has the freedom to use their discretion in each murder case when assigning the death penalty. Capital punishment is applicable to all convicted murderers over the age of 17. Politicians and theologists constantly debate the ethics of this practice through both a religious and Constitutional lens. Supporters on both sides of the issue habitually quote the Christian Bible in their argument for or against the death penalty. I believe that the Bible provides stronger evidence in opposition of the death penalty, leading me to suggest that capital punishment is immoral. I will prove this in six ways, with recognition of the arguments in support of the death penalty as well. First, I will address Jesus’ instruction to “love they neighbor.” 2 Secondly, I will 1 Antonin Scalia, “God’s Justice and Ours,” First Things 123 (May 2002): 17. 2 Matthew 5:43, King James Version
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examine two of the Ten Commandments: “thou shalt not kill” 3 and “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” 4 Similarly, I will observe God’s omniscience and omnipotence and their effects on His judgment. Furthermore, I will discuss the fallibility of human nature and how it leads to mistakes in the determination of guilt. In addition, I will look at Jesus’ idea of retaliation as described in the book of Matthew. Lastly, I will recognize the arguments of those in support of capital punishment and the possible flaws in their reasoning. Indeed, Jesus remarks in Matthew 5:43 that “thou shalt love thy neighbor.” The word “neighbor” refers to all other human beings. This phrase implies complete respect and kind regard for all that you encounter. Capital punishment is in direct opposition to this statement. By killing another human being, regardless of their past, a person is disregarding Jesus’ sentiment in his instruction to love one’s neighbor. Jesus continues to further exemplify this commandment. He instructs that rather than merely loving one’s neighbor, one must “love [their] enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” 5 This means that it is not enough to simply treat others as they treat you. One must go beyond the expected and love even those who do evil unto them. The practice of capital punishment does not support this demand. Capital punishment uses the justification of retribution, which means that it is acceptable to punish a murderer by taking their life, since they
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2011 for the course THEO 100 taught by Professor Scine during the Fall '08 term at Saint Louis.

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capital punishment - Rebecca Austin December 6, 2010 THEO...

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