Last week the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty for the Boston Marathon terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
This raises an important question: what should Christians think about the death penalty?
The topic never used to be controversial among Christians. But because our contemporary age has recast Jesus into a kind of soft, effeminate, hippy hair model, many have been led astray to think that the government killing another human being is contrary to God’s character.
Such a sentiment could not be further from the truth.
The Old Testament that Jesus followed (Mat. 5:17), which was inspired by His Spirit (1 Pet. 2:19-21), is clear that a large number of sins were to be considered capital crimes worthy of death in God’s Theocracy (Ex. 21). And this divine disposition toward the death penalty was not altered with the institution of the New Covenant.
The Apostle Paul makes this very clear in his letter to the Romans.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for she is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, tan avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.(Romans 13:1-4)
Paul affirms the government lawfully bears the sword. The Government sometimes has the right to use swords against evildoers. And not only does Paul affirm their right to do such a thing, but he even credits this, when done rightly, as being the very judgment of God.
The government is a tool in God’s hand bringing about God’s judgment on earth through the State. This is why we must celebrate the ruling of the Supreme Court; Tsarnaev needs to die.
This does not mean conclude this with glee. There is a difference in celebrating the serving of justice and taking delight in the death of the wicked. This is why, in obedience to Jesus’ commands to love our enemies, we certainly must continue to pray for Tsarnaev, that he would come to know Jesus Christ, and by faith and repentance be saved. But we can love him, forgive him, and pray for his salvation without sacrificing the human justice that must be served.
Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
1 Peter 2:19-21: “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
Exodus 21:12-13: “Whoever strikes and kills a man must surely be put to death. If, however, he did not lie in wait, but God allowed it to happen, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.”
Exodus 21:14: “But if a man schemes and acts willfully against his neighbor to kill him, you must take him away from My altar to be put to death.”
Categories: Resisting the Winds
“The government is a tool in God’s hand bringing about God’s judgment on earth through the State.”
Well said! Great article.
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