The sanctity of life is the usual cornerstone argument for opposing elective abortion. Human life is a tender and sacred component of society. The Judeo-Christian worldview defends mankind up to the point of being willing to die in order to preserve it. Once a life is criminally extinguished and thereby robbed of its value, that life ought to be vindicated. A failure to validate that life devalues both the perpetrator and the victim, which will cause a weakness in a society.
The defense of the death penalty is being diluted by the fact that it is not a pleasant subject. Ignoring it makes it worse. The idea of ending a human life “before its time” is being framed to be just as equally wrong for the perpetrator as well as the victim. That is far from biblical morality or that of conscience alone. To have the same amount of empathy for a murder victim as well as the murderer is a direct ethical contradiction. A just solution must be resolute.
Many in the religious community have a real problem with the death penalty. They believe that once one is killed and another one is to be killed, it is an unending circle of violence. That would make sense if they misinterpreted or completely ignored what is asserted in the Judeo-Christian foundation. Within the Ten Commandments, the sixth commandment says “You shall not murder.” Most English versions poorly translate the Hebrew word for “murder” as “kill.” There is a massive difference. For those who go hunting, people don’t say they murder deer and turkey (Unless you’re PETA).That’s why there are three degrees of murder. Here we are discussing the worst of the three: premeditated murder.The one law that is cited in each of the first five books of the Bible is that murderers are to be put to death. Refusing to carry out the law is considered an additional violation against God and the community.
The astonishing reality is that under the U.S. Constitution the perpetrator holds the same inalienable rights as the victim. As soon as justice is denied or delayed for the victim, the perpetrator is elevated over the victim. This only feeds into the delusion the perpetrator accepted in order to feel justified in violating the victim.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are provisions that government is responsible for preserving. The argument to abolish the death penalty would essentially nullify all three. Human life can’t be preserved without holding it to a standard, as well as knowing when to hold an individual wholly responsible for their actions. Anyone living with unbearable, irreconcilable guilt is neither liberated nor happy. As odd at it seems it is more moral and humane for a violator to face justice.
Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle simply stated, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”
Now, some assert that the perpetrator should be held in a lifetime of servitude instead of being sentenced to death. Not only is the perpetrator living with their guilt, they are now being worked to death. Most would rather die than to be forced into labor against their will. That is treating someone as if they are sub-human.
The mental health of the perpetrators and miscarriage of justice aside–because those are rare occurrences among felony cases–the death penalty is not only moral, but a defensive measure. A community that does not defend the sacredness of innocent life leaves the community vulnerable to cruelty.
In order to protect the human-value of the victim and the murderer, the perpetrator must die. They are both human, and they are to be treated as such. It is impossible to argue biblical ethics in opposition to the death penalty. A community or society that elevates wrongdoing over innocence ignores basic human decency. Don’t deny humanity to either party.
By: Rosemary Dewar