Undecided: My Heart.

A woman is beaten so badly that she is unrecognizable.  She was walking home after her birthday supper with her family, when she was attacked from behind. The only things she saw were the black gloves as they descended on her throat.  She passes out.  When she wakes up, a man is leaning over her, and she begins to scream.  She’s hysterical.  The man tried to calm her, but she’s inconsolable. A nearby jogger on a trail hears her screaming.  The jogger cuts through a trail, takes a quick look at the scenario, and leaps on the man.  Another jogger, from the opposite direction, hears the same screams and comes to investigate.  When the 2nd jogger arrives, the woman screams and says she’s been assaulted.  The second jogger calls 911.

The police arrive, arrest the man, and send the woman to the hospital.  She gives account of what happened, and the joggers give the same.  The man arrested is charged and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Yay.  Case closed.

This happens all over the world.  Unfortunately, the man arrested was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  His name is Dave… he’s 33, has a wife that was his high school sweetheart, and 3 daughters.  His wife is pregnant with their 4th child.  He took a walk that day, needing to pray and ask the Lord for direction.  He walked around a corner and saw a woman, beaten, lying in the dirt…

I wonder how often this happens to people who get the death penalty for their sentence?  They get to die because of bad timing.

And of course, this is when the stereotypical Christian chimes in with “well, an eye for an eye!”   Well, I’ve always been a believer of the death penalty…until recently.  I’m not so sure anymore that the decision of life or death should be left in the hand’s of a mortal, imperfect human being.  Doesn’t scripture tell us NOT to recompense evil for evil?

No matter how I try to wrap my head around this, I can’t seem to come up with an answer… which is why I’ve decided to write about it.  Maybe I will get some direction or other opinions that will make me settle this issue in my heart.

I can speak honestly and say that I have certainly not gotten everything I’ve deserved in this life…the mercy of God has been granted many times in my favor.  I can’t help but wonder how some Christians are so willing to be critical of others, almost taking pleasure in seeing them punished.  This baffles me.

I feel no joy when another is punished, only sorrow.  I can’t help but hurt for them, even if they DID do something wrong.  I guess I feel this way because I KNOW I’m not flawless.  I KNOW I have fleshly desires.  I KNOW I am not above any man.  I remind myself, “It could be you, Samantha.”

So, the next time you want to point your finger, take joy in another’s pain, or cast your stone…Remember this: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth; take heed, lest ye fall.”

~                    ~                    ~                    ~

Samantha (or “Sammy-O” as I call her) is a very dear and special person in my life. We met as a result of a long, dramatic argument on facebook. 🙂 We were arguing over a mutual friend actually… over who loved her more. Ha! It seems so trivial now… but out of that epic, threat-filled argument bloomed a beautiful friendship that I wouldn’t trade for the world. She is the proud mommy of five beautiful girls and has a sense of sarcastic humor unlike anyone else I’ve ever met! She is the writer of Step Mommas and will captivate your heart with the real-life stories she shares on her blog.

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About SamanthaAnn

A simple mom...just tryin' to make it in this world...

Posted on March 2, 2011, in "Guest Post" March, Guest Post and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I think people sometimes forget when Jesus said this: “You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist and evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as we well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42

    And I struggle with the death penalty as well. Although I’m almost the opposite. LOL. I have always been against because I feel like we should not have the right to decide who lives and who dies. However… what about serial killers who brutally murder and torture their victims? They are a danger to society… is it really for the greater good that we let them go as well? I”m not sure. But at the same time… where is grace?

    But it’s also hard to live out, rather than just talk about it. I mean, if someone wants to steal my coat I’m probably going to call the police instead of giving them my sweater as well. If someone forces me to walk a mile, when that mile is over I’m probably going to want to get a cab or catch the bus back home.

    Yet… Jesus is very clear. It’s hard. But I love what the band Relient K says: “The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.” When someone get away with something, or we feel like we did something good and should get rewarded for it and didn’t, or we see someone at church that we know did something wrong we want to scream “It’s not fair!”

    Well… no, it isn’t. That’s grace.

    • Very interesting post, Emily! I don’t know where I’d be today without the grace of God. It seems in this area there are some gray areas, and it’s not as black and white as some people think it is. I hope that the Lord gives me some clear direction on the matter. Thank you so much for your thoughts. : )

      ~ Samantha

    • I would suggest that grace is not fair from our perspective but it is fair from God’s perspective; we were not let go free of our punishment, Jesus took it upon himself satisfying God’s wrath -it was fair in the sense that someone did pay for it and fulfilled justice.

  2. I was in favor of the death penalty until a few years ago. And then Romans 12 (especially the last part) got to me. Now–I’m not in favor of it. But I don’t talk about it much because most of the people I am around are vehemently in favor of it. Oh well.

  3. Putting someone to death for their crime, guilty or not guilty, robs that person of the right to seek God in God’s timing.  We play God each time we say, “Your time to get right with God has expired, and now, it is time to die.”  It is serious business placing the fate of someone’s immortal soul in the hands of a mortal being.

    • Todd, thank you for your thoughts!

      ~ Samantha

    • Todd, would you then say that every time someone commits murder (bank robbery, terrorism etc) the killer is intercepting God’s original plans (“timing”) for that person and therefore shortening the time table that God may have panned for salvation? or Is it fair to say that God is in complete control and knows when everyone will die, natural, murder or capital punishment and, in His justice has provided an opportunity for everyone before the final breath?

      • Luis, it is true that God knows all things, including the hour we will die. God also knew that he would allow other nations to slaughter the Israelites because of their sinful disobedience. He also told us through the prophets that he would punish those nations for their murder. The actions of those nations against Israel were considered unjustified, wrong, by God, even though technically Israel deserved it.

        I ask the question; what is this need within Christians to put others to death? Why do we seek someone’s death just to satisfy our need for justice? Is that justice? Do you not know that Paul the apostle was guilty of multiple murders against the Jewish Christians? God did not put him to death but forgave him and redeemed him through his saving grace. It was through this act of mercy that we have much of our scriptural Christian doctrine today.

  4. When I first read your blog – which asks tough questions I’ve wrestled with too – I thought “well, I don’t have to comment on that, because my “thing” is how to “love our neighbors.” My second thought was “but ‘loving our enemies’ IS part of that.” And the third was, “When I studied the Bible to see what went into loving our neighbors, one of the surprising results was that the Bible talks MORE about how important it is to provide justice than even to provide things like food, clothing, or housing. So guess what? I saw that I should commen, even if I’m still wrestling with the answer.

    I HAVE had two first-hand experiences. One of my cousins – the closest person I ever had to a sister – was murdered by a paroled convict just before she finished college. I”ll tell you forcefully that when the family gathered for Pat’s funeral, what every one of us favored wasn’t even capital punishment – it was lynching! We wanted to do it ourselves – and right then!. (He got life in prison, and if I recall correctly, it was without parole.)

    Then, soon after we moved here (Wyoming), I was chosen to be on the jury of a rather sensational double-murder trial. The defendant was a 20-something young man who supposedly wanted to get out of his marriage without the expense of a divorce. The prosecution alleged that first he tried to hire a friend to shoot his wife and 5-year-old son. When the friend balked, he killed them himself by pushing them off a 120-foot-high cliff, and claiming they fell accidentally. Then, when the insurance money on his wife started to run out, he tried to hire the same friend to shoot his parents (to get their insurance money).

    That time, the friend went to the police. They taped him and the friend making a phone call to plan the parents’ murders. As soon as they had enough on tape, the authorities (who were waiting outside his door) broke in and arrested him.

    That part of the trial was a no-brainer. But the other four counts all depended on circumstantial evidence, which wasn’t nearly as strong, especially since the friend was into things like drugs. And that kind of evidence is where people like Dave can get caught up wrongfully. So, from the beginning, we did try very hard to be careful. In fact, we decided that for our first run-through we’d ignore any witness any of us thought was questionable – and see where that left us.

    The defendant testified on his own behalf. He told us that the family had decided to take their Jeep and go “four-wheeling” to the Green River, in the bottom of a deep, steep canyon. to swim and picnic. That they got lost, and parked at the top of the cliff to get re-oriented and stretch their legs. And that while he was at the Jeep, he heard his wife scream, ran to see what was wrong, and found them both lying on the rocks on the steep slope below the sheer part of the cliff.

    Ten hours into our deliberation – and almost ready to go to a motel for the night – we were looking at the crime scene photos again. We started comparing what was in the open Jeep with what should have been there if his story was true. The result? NOTHING that should have been there was. No lunch. No swimming suits. No towels. No changes of clothes. No firewood. Nothing else. That break convinced the last of us that he was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” We brought in “guilty” verdicts on all six counts. And, after a careful review, the State Supreme Court upheld us. He was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences, one for each count.

    Later, the prosecutor asked me which testimony had led to our decision. And then he told me that the prosecuting team had missed that comparison entirely. Our jury spotted it.

    What does that tell me about capital punishment? The question is still there in my mind. My wrestling match isn’t over. I know we’re to “turn the other cheek” to our enemies. But we’re also supposed to provide justice for others. And I can see how that sometimes does mean capital punishment. IF there’s really no question about guilt. But my problem is still, how often are there mistaken verdicts? Sometimes we DO later learn that the judge or jury was wrong. Does that mean we should settle for life sentences instead of capital punishment? It’s a fair, and important, question.

    Good blog.

    • Pete, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter, they were quite interesting.

      With the questions left in my mind about the risks of killing innocent people, I am left where you are. It scares me, honestly.

      ~ Samantha

  5. Excellent blog. I have also written about frustrating it can be to see Christians judging others, especially judging those that are struggling. It’s on my website under Christian Frustrations and Agoraphobic Christians.

    As for capital punishment, from a Biblical perspective, I believe it is completely wrong. We are supposed to uphold the sanctity of all life, even its a murderer’s life. Jesus brought redemption to the earth, for everyone. He turned to the criminal hanging on an adjacent cross and because of his faith told him, “Surely I will see you in paradise.” We all have a chance to be redeemed, and many times that redemption comes in a prison cell. Some people have been exposed to so much evil and turn to evil themselves, the only way for them to repent and realize the truth of the Gospel is through the grim loneliness of a prison cell. If we decide to kill these people we are not giving them a chance. God still loves this criminals, He doesn’t stop loving them and wants to save them. The challenge is, can we love them too? Can we forgive as God forgives? As I society, we can’t, that is why we have capital punishment, but as Christians we must. When God said Thou shalt not kill, he didn’t say Thou shalt not kill, unless that person killed first.

    Shane Claiborne (google him) has written a couple books that discuss these points. He grapples with many of the tough questions we face to do with creativity, humor, and a biblical perspective. They are Irresistible Revolution and Jesus for President, you should check them out!

  6. Andrea Sonnenberg

    “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD.” Rom. 12:19

    Nice article!

  7. Bible?
    Capital punishment was instituted by God after the flood in Genesis 9.
    “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Genesis 9:5–6.
    To say we’re ‘playing God,’ or that it is ‘completely wrong from a biblical perspective’ doesn’t line up with this scripture. Twice in two verses the Lord makes it clear that capital punishment is authorized by God to be carried out by man: “at the hand of every man”; “by man.” There is a difference between vengeance and justice.
    Governments make mistakes, but we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water, or we might as well dissolve government as well.
    The sanctity of life is not an argument AGAINST capital punishment, God says right here that it is the sanctity of life that makes capital punishment a requirement: “for in the image of God made he man.”
    Grace, yes; mercy, yes; sowing and reaping (Gal. 6:7)? Yes. There are still responsibilities for actions. If you get saved on death row—and praise God for it—they’re not going to release you; repentance and forgiveness doesn’t negate consequences, look at the life of David.

    Hope this gives some Bible input to think about.

    • Though I am not sure whether I have made my mind about this issue, I agree with Nick’s presentation. Although we don’t live under the OT law, it does show God’s principles at work. It is dangerous to make blanket statements based on what Jesus said. He said to give the other cheek but did he really mean let people hurt you and lat them do it again? If so, why didn’t Paul just let the Romans to persecute him but instead got a hold of his Roman citizenship to get a fair trail according to the law of the land? Did Paul do wrong and didn’t follow Jesus? Probably, not. perhaps he understood better what Jesus said than we do.

      My point may be that grace is not JUST “not getting what you deserve” (free for free) but it is “you not getting what you deserve BECAUSE Jesus paid in your place” (free for a price).Even in the Gospel of Grace, justice is fulfilled.

      Now do we have to kill a killer to execute justice? (by the way, by the power and authority that God has vested in His ministers -AKA the government authorities – see Rom 13), may be if we are SURE… but… what if we are not?

      In my view, the problem is not whether or not capital punishment can be proven as supported by God because I think it is; the question is, how can we be sure of guilt?

      • I think the answer is we can’t be sure. But unless you’re a government appointed judge, then it is outside of our jurisdiction and authority and therefore we have to trust in those whose decisions it is.

        Also, don’t forget Noah is 800 years before the law. If you’re a dispensationalist, then this idea of capital punishment and government issued in this new way that God dealt with man and sin after the flood, and if it worked, then maybe we wouldn’t have had the law! But, it didn’t, which I think kind of shows that government is never going to work perfectly.

  8. i’m not sure who brought up Noah but I am usually based on the law (Exodus 21:12) when I refer to the OT. I agree with your conclusion of leaving it to tha ones who have been trusted with and empowered for the decision.

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