The most holy of all religious days occurs in the Christian faith this week. Easter Sunday, for both the Western Church and the Orthodox Church, is this Sunday, April 16, 2017. As the Apostle’s Creed states, we believe Jesus was “crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead.” As the Apostle Paul said, all of our hope as Christians rest on the reality of the resurrection. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19).
We believe Jesus’ death and resurrection changed everything. We believe His sacrifice ended all sacrifices. We believe His death and resurrection fulfilled the Law’s requirements. We believe the covenant of grace supersedes all other covenants, including both the covenant God made with Noah, as well as the one He made with Moses. Jesus was executed by the State. Based on all the above, we should also believe Jesus’ State sponsored execution ended all State sponsored execution. Jesus’ death penalty should have been the last death penalty.
But the problem is, many followers of Jesus, based on a narrow interpretation of one Old Testament verse, do not believe that. Most evangelical Christians in the United States still support the death penalty. As a result, beginning the day after Easter, the State of Arkansas will begin the process of executing 8 death row inmates in 11 days. Odd, isn’t it, that the day after the greatest day in history, in the buckle of the Bible belt, we will act like we have learned nothing. Why is Arkansas in a rush to execute so many people (a fourth of all their death row inmates)? Because the drugs they use to carry out the executions are about to expire! That’s it! They feel the need to carry out capital punishment, 8 times in 11 days, before certain drugs go bad. I find this unbelievable an nauseating.
Why do I care about this? After all, I don’t live in Arkansas; at least not anymore.
I care because violence does not cure violence. I find it strange that we don’t treat other crimes like we do murder. We don’t teach people stealing is wrong by stealing from them. We don’t teach our children lying is wrong by lying to them. We definitely don’t teach rape is wrong by raping the offender. So why do we try and teach murder is wrong by murdering people? It makes no sense!
I care because most arguments I see, from Christians, about the validity of the death penalty, borders more on vengeance then it does justice, and God’s Word makes it clear that vengeance belongs to Him alone.
I care because recently my own State’s Supreme Court (Tennessee) made a ruling to use these same type of drugs as Arkansas uses, paving the way for Tennessee to start killing people again. I pray what is happening in Arkansas will not happen in Tennessee.
There are other ways justice can be done without us having to kill another person.
There are others ways for the victims family to find closure and get the help and assistance they need, without having to kill another person.