When I was in 11th grade, I had an American history teacher that was, for lack of a better word, “liberal”. As he taught, he always felt the need to interject his viewpoint on whether he agreed with what was being taught or not.
There was a time once when he expressed his opinion on the death penalty in Texas, and of course he disagreed with it. I stood up and argued, rather heatedly, with him in front of the class. It went on for quite a while. I wasn’t going to let that one slip by.
I had been a good student, rarely ever getting less than an A on assignments. But when my final grade came out in the summer, I was given a 70. Barely passing. While I can’t prove it, I certainly feel my little hissy over the death penalty hindered my grade.
I was always a proponent of the death penalty and at times even joked about being the one who would gladly “flip the switch”.
My views have changed somewhat. I don’t know exactly what God’s mind is on the death penalty (in light of the New Testament, of course). I’m still a little unsure whether a person who is guilty deserves to die for taking the life of another. After all, the Apostle Paul would have been sentenced to die in the state of Texas.
I do know, as I’ve written here before, that we are not to put an innocent man to death. At all. Ever. It’s now my opinion that any system that would allow it needs to be abolished.
And most of all, how dare any Christian support wholeheartedly any system of justice that would allow an innocent man to be put to death and then shrug your shoulders and say “Oh well, you can’t be perfect all the time”.
I just finished reading the book titled “An Autobiography of an Execution” written by David R. Dow. He’s a death penalty lawyer in Houston, Texas writing about his experiences representing over one hundred people convicted of the death penalty in Texas.
While the book is largely David Dow’s viewpoint, it doesn’t take hardly any research to know much of what he is saying happens in every death penalty case. The sad point is, it ought to turn your stomach. His account of inept attorneys, indifferent judges, an electorate that is largely ignorant of the death penalty process (of which I was one), and just the system in general ought to get the attention of everyone, but especially Christians.
After reading The Innocent Man by John Grisham (a non-fiction account of several innocent people on death row in Oklahoma) and now this one by David Dow, and considering most of all the words of God……
6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:6-8 NIV)
We need to take a long hard look at just what justice is. What God says justice is. You see, whether it makes you uncomfortable or not, God loves everyone the same, even murderers. And in our thirst for revenge I do know that at the very least God said that we had better see that even a murderer receives justice.
Give both books a read. It just might change you forever.