Tuesday 20th April 2021
Does this command preclude Capital Punishment?
Exodus 20: 13
You shall not murder
At the time of writing the United Kingdom does not accept capital punishment as a punishment for crime. And how worrying it is that the sentence starts “At the time of writing”… As we look around the world at countries that allow capital punishment a few things become clear – the taking of someone’s life as a legal response to a crime (irrespective of how heinous that crime may be) is almost always more about revenge than justice.
As Sister Helen Prejean says “The death penalty is fundamentally a poor person’s issue. Over nearly 40 years of visiting death row facilities across the United States, I have never met a single person with money or resources. Capital punishment means “those without the capital get the punishment.”
Capital punishment is often justified by the quote “An eye for an eye” but that is always taken out of context. The full quotation, from the Gospel of Matthew (5:38-39) is “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t fight back against someone who wants to do harm to you. If they hit you on the right cheek, let them hit the other cheek too.”
Capital punishment is never a justice response. And God always wants us to act justly and love mercy.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Lord, give us the strength, compassion, mercy and understanding to be
just and kind on our journey with you.