Capital Punishment and the Bible
In the U.S. one of the most frequently debated punishments are the death penalty and capital punishment. Although the concept of the death penalty is still being supported by a lot of Americans, however, this support appears to be declining. The origin and biblical basis for the death penalty derive from the concept of various severe crimes that were carried out in ancient times and resulted in the death penalty. Death penalty was considered as the option of punishment by various pieces in the Old Testament. The death penalty was commended for various acts rape and prostitution (Deuteronomy 22:24), being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5), homosexuality (Leviticus), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), murder (Exodus 21:12) and various other crimes.
Although death penalty was instituted by God (Genesis 9:6), however, in some cases, mercy was shown by God when the death penalty was due, for example, (2 Samuel 12:13) and (2 Samuel 11:1-5). Other than this, the authority of determining capital punishment by the government is also given by God (Romans 12:1-7) and (Genesis 9:6). There is a difference between the New and Old Testament approaches to the death penalty. With Old Testament Biblical teaching, the death penalty is consistent and around 36 capital offenses have been specified that must receive death penalty. However, the New Testament has considered some portion of forgiveness, but it appears that the state’s right of executing the offenders has been taken for granted by it.
No specific teaching regarding death penalty has been provided by the New Testament. The Supreme Court of the U.S. has given death penalty to various mentally ill and juveniles. With respect to juveniles, crimes committed under the age of 18 are not given death penalty. Examples of cases of juveniles where death penalty was given: Roper v. Simmons, Thompson vs. Oklahoma, Stanford v. Kentucky and etc. Examples of cases of mentally ill people who were given death penalty: Cecil Clayton, Andrew Brannan, John Middleton, and etc. In today’s society, the death penalty does provide a valid punishment option in today’s society. Because with the passage of time, the ratio of crimes has increased, therefore, in deterring the potential criminals, it should be mandatory that the punishment announced for the crime must be cruel enough to teach a lesson further.