I believe that America’s justice system is broken and in need of desperate repair. One of those areas is the practice of putting our citizens to death, something I believe that all Jesus People should resoundingly oppose.
When I was a conservative Evangelical, I was a huge supporter of capital punishment for all of the standard reasons. I even had a quick response when folks correctly brought up the hypocrisy of being against abortion while simultaneously being pro-death penalty, a position I previously argued you can’t hold and still call yourself “pro-life”.
However, when I decided to follow Jesus instead of simply being a Christian who paid him hollow worship while conveniently ignoring the red words, I was forced to abandon my support of the death penalty (and abandon my support of violence in general) as part of Following Jesus 101.
While America’s broken justice system is a complex issue, perhaps the first area we can fix is by abolishing the death penalty in all 50 states. Here’s why I think Jesus People should be leading the charge on this issue:
1. Most attempts to make a biblical case for the support of capital punishment are arguments primarily based on Old Testament law, and that’s a poor way to do Christian theology.
Get frustrated when someone challenges you on an argument you’re making from the Old Testament when they ask you if you eat shell fish, or are wearing a cotton and polyester blend? You should– they’re correctly pointing out that most theological arguments based on Old Testament verses require cherry picking and inconsistency. As Christians, we are part of the New Testament church, not ancient Israel. Lifting a few of the Laws of Moses while ignoring the vast majority of the rest is inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. Most who use this tactic also ignore the whole of OT teaching on the issue by conveniently forgetting that capital punishment could not be applied without two eye witnesses (Deut 17:6), and forgetting that even bankers were considered detestable and ordered to be put to death (Ez 18:13). However, if one insists on building a case for supporting executions from the Old Testament, we find an inconvenient truth (sorry, Al) in the teachings of Jesus: