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Law and Order continued....


For Christians as with society in general, the death penalty for murder has always been a controversial subject. The law given to Noah and to Moses did stipulate the death sentence for murder by stoning(14), but as we now live in what is known as the age of God's grace(15) in which He is willing to forgive sins where there is repentance, how should we react to such a serious crime as that of murder? It is nowhere taught in Scripture that repentance towards God should exempt an offender from being dealt with by the law of the land.

There is an interesting example in the New Testament of a woman who was accused of adultery, and the case was brought to Jesus for His adjudication; but He neither condoned nor condemned the woman. He forgave her and told her to sin no more(16). One can hardly consider that as a precedent for today. The position was quite unique. Jesus the All-wise One had all the facts and as Supreme judge He decided to drop the case for the prosecution.

In the book of Romans it declares that the powers that be (eg the officers of the law) are ordained by God and as such they are His secular ministers, and they do not bear the sword in vain(17). The New Testament also teaches that the law is made for the lawless and the disobedient(18).

The grace of God is available to enable us to live righteous lives, but when that grace is spurned then the law must take its course.

In many countries now capital punishment no longer obtains and perhaps the strongest argument against its return (however right many think it to be) is the fact that there has been a spate of cases where subsequent evidence has found that the judgement was flawed and the alleged offender wrongly executed. False imprisonment can at least be compensated, but death is final, and some would say that it is better that a guilty man goes free than an innocent man is hanged.

Index to the topic

Law and Order
A Postscript on Capital Punishment

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