Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Death Penalty and the Bible

As reported in the New York Times, Colorado’s highest court overturned the death sentence for a man because the jury’s consultation of the Bible was ruled to be improper.

The Bible, the court said, constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the court called a "higher authority."

The Court said in its 3-2 ruling:

The judicial system works very hard to emphasize the rarified, solemn and sequestered nature of jury deliberations. Jurors must deliberate in that atmosphere without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts.

This is a ridiculous ruling. But I don’t know what bothers me more. The fact that Colorado jurors, when making life-and-death decisions, are no longer allowed to consult the text from which they draw their own beliefs or that, upon consulting the Bible, this jury actually found reason to rule FOR the death penalty.

The Bible obviously has a lot of references to the death penalty (particularly in the Old Testament), but I think better instructions come from Jesus Himself.

Luke 6:27, 37 -- Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.... Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Here is a great site covering the death penalty and what the Bible teaches us about mercy and the sanctity of life.

There’s nothing wrong with locking up a violent criminal for life. But the death penalty should be abolished.


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