Does Murder Deserve Capital Punishment?
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.” Genesis 9:6 NIV
A Comparative Study of Bloodshed in Bible and Talmud begins by stating the identity of who man is in God’s image. It brings the true thought of shedding blood home in the mind of any human being. When we destroy another man we are in essence destroying God’s creation and someone created in his own image. Just because a man may be a killer does not necessarily condone he himself being killed. The article tends to lean more towards God’s own judgment of individuals rather than man’s. Priest goes on to say “God's wrath is stirred at the shedding of blood because humans are made in God's image and a person's life is 'in the blood.” By this definition it is clear that by shedding another man’s blood that we are killing someone before God gives judgment.
In the 1991 article by Johan Lust, the main ideas of capital punishment are discussed right from the beginning. In this article, it is clearly explained that “man is not explicitly empowered to execute the death penalty” (p.101). In saying that, the article clearly supports the idea of only God having the authority to take another man’s life for murder. It seems as if the article explains the capital punishment system as a means of man’s attempt at being God and taking vengeance on criminals in order to deter them from participating in such behavior. Since we do not have the authority of God according to this article, we are not authorized or “empowered” to use capital punishment.
In the last article by Gruber, the view seems to be pretty much the same as in the other two sources I have included. The main subject of this article was about being made in God’s image, but due to the subject matter, the author touched on Genesis 9:6. He goes on to explain that because we were created in God’s image this serves as the “Bible’s prohibition of murder”. This would take the right of man to kill back when murder has struck his fellow brother. Basically what it is saying is that murder can’t dictate murder. We cannot kill one man over another man’s bloodshed. We are to let God’s judgment bring wrath upon him. In seeing the supportive arguments of this article, I believe that the author is a firm believer in God’s own authority to bring judgment upon others here on earth. The murderer won’t go scotch free, but will in time pay his just dues. He will suffer and face death spiritually for the acts he committed.
My opinion after reviewing all of this is that even though no murder is justified in any form or fashion, a man should not go unpunished. Obviously we cannot have killers running free on our streets. This would be chaos and complete anarchy for our local law enforcement. My current profession is in the Department of Corrections and I have a first-hand view of what these crimes can do to a community and what happens to criminals once they are sentenced. Our value systems in America are so corrupted already it seems as if it would be impossible to restore the foundation of a Biblical justice system. Only prayer and support of Christians for the right leaders can help to change the damage that has been done. Even though we have a flood of life sentence inmates in our custody, I still refuse to back the capital punishment laws of North Carolina. However, it is my duty and pledge to serve the Department of Corrections in what I am asked by policy to do. My job does not include acting on capital punishment, just to serve and protect the public. It is my opinion from scriptures in the Bible that God does not give the authority to man to bring judgment to other men. Yes, we can detain them and hold them. No. We can’t just murder and individual because he was judged by a jury with evidence that cannot completely been proven. There are plenty of times when juries, Judges, and evidence are mishandled due to corruption. Look at the Michael Peterson case and you will see a great example. That action of Capital punishment in turn makes us guilty of murder. Let God be the judge of that man if we can’t do it without bias or error.
Priest, James E. 1988. "Gen 9:6: A Comparative Study of Bloodshed in Bible and Talmud." Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society 31, 145-151.
Lust, Johan. 1991. "For Man shall his Blood be Shed': Gen 9:6 in Hebrew and in Greek." In Barthélemy Festschrift, 91-102. Freiburg, Switzerland: Universitätsverlag, 1991.
Gruber, Mayer. 2001. "`In the Image of God': What Is It?." In Homage to Shmuel, 81-87. Jerusalem: Bialik, 2001.