The Bible and Capital Punishment

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Capital Punishment and The Bible

Should we support capital punishment? The answer to that question is two-sided in many regards. Many followers believe that the Bible has a stance on this issue, while others believe that the New Testament replaces the Old Testament law.

In Sodom and Gomorrah God destroyed the two cities because of the heinous sin of the inhabitants. In the time of Moses, God took the lives of the Egyptians' first-born sons (Exod. 11) and destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exod. 14).

In the Old Testament one can see many instances in which God commands the use of violence in terms of retaliation. God was involved in the taking of life as a punishment for those who threatened or harmed Israel. One example is the flood of Noah in Genesis 6-8. God destroyed all life except for what was in the ark.

The Mosaic Law states many offenses that are punishable by death. The first was murder. In Exodus 21, God commanded capital punishment for murderers. A second offense punishable by death was involvement in the occult. This included sorcery, acting as a medium, and sacrificing to false gods. Finally, capital punishment was to be used for sexual sins such as rape, incest, or homosexual practice.

On the other side of the coin, some Christians believe that capital punishment does not apply in the New Testament. God gave the principle of capital punishment even before the institution of the Old Testament law code. "Whoever sheds man's blood by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God, He made man." This is said in Genesis 9:6. Capital punishment was instituted by God because humans are created in the image of God. Even so, some Christians interpret that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is arguing against capital punishment.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not arguing against the principle of a life for a life. Jesus is speaking to the issue of our personal desire for vengeance. He is not denying the power and...
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