In this I article I would like to address a post that was created on CARM.ORG. CARM is the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, an organization devoted to the defense of the Christian gospel and ideologies. The post I’d like to address is a CARM writer’s response to an email written concerning Christians and their support of the death penalty. The email reads:
” The Bible says it is forbidden to kill, yet many Christians in America support the death penalty and order wars and bombs which kill tens of thousands, yet this is somehow rationalized and an excuse is made as to how this does not violate Christianity, when it plainly does.”
This is a very serious statement and is quite hard to address when dealing with the “turn the other cheek” principle and forgiveness that Jesus taught. Is it Biblically moral for a Christian (a New Testament following Christian) to believe that the killing of a person who has committed a crime, is just?
The response to this email is blurred by word play, but in the end the conclusion is:
“Furthermore, murder is the unlawful taking of life. Killing is the lawful taking of life. Therefore, in the issue of taking life we must determine whether or not is lawful or not. If a murderer is sentenced to death in a lawful manner via the law of the land, then it is not murder.”
With this conclusion one can see immediate problems, starting with the assumption that there is a lawful and unlawful taking of life. This is then followed up by saying that the lawfulness of taking a life is determined by the ‘law of the land’, thus immediately raising the question “Does this in turn justify Sha’ria law also?”
Not only does the statement made by the writer of this article, produced by CARM.org, suggest that the taking of life can be lawful, it also condones revenge.
“[…]God gives us the right of self-defense and sometimes in that self-defense, it is necessary to kill someone.”
Self-defense would be prohibiting something harmful from happening in the first place. Revenge is making a harmful action after the initial wrong has been done. And of these two categories, the death penalty would fall under the latter.
To follow a Christian principle of forgiveness, murder cannot be justified, but if one feels so inclined to quote an obscure Old Testament verse that condones war or violence or murder, and rape for that matter, then remember this, using a holy scripture to justify your actions can go both ways. Any person who thinks it is lawful to take your life can be justified by scripture also.
Murder and Killing are two terms for the same act, taking ones life. Does either term seem less violent? No, Killing is Murder, Murder is Killing, they are one in the same. However, it is no surprise that Christian Fundamentalists do not share this view.