Captial Punishment & Pro Life

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Part Three - Capital Punishment and Pro Life: Contradiction?

It is a common objection made by the pro-abortion advocate that the pro-life movement is hypocritical because some hold to the sanctity of life in the womb and yet endorse capital punishment.  On the surface this would appear a justifiable argument but an investigation of the Bible reveals that at the core of both of these views is the sacredness of human life.

Let me begin by first defining what makes human life distinct from all other forms of life.  The image of God is found in only two of God’s creations, angels and men.  It is His image that elevates man far above all other forms of life on earth and makes human life sacred before God.  So what is the image of God?  Jesus describes God as a “Spirit” indicating that the image of God is the spiritual aspect of man, his soul (John 4:24).   Since our physical bodies are made of the dust of the ground as are animal bodies, it is the residence of the soul that makes us uniquely human and our life sacred before God.

The passing of the Mosaic Law did not end man’s responsibility to carry out capital punishment.  In Genesis 9:1-7, God speaks to Noah and his family as they leave the ark concerning two matters.  First of all, God tells them that they may kill and eat animals as a source of food.  Secondly, God commands all the descendants of Noah and his sons, to put to death anyone or any animal that murders a human being (v. 5-6a).  The descendants of Noah encompass everyone who has born since that commandment whether they are Jew or Gentile.  This call for capital punishment is therefore still in effect and should be therefore supported by all believers who seek to carry out the will of God. 

In the end of verse 6, God gives the reason He commands murderers be put to death.  God’s reason is that man is made in the image of God and thus God considers human life as sacred as His own life.  Anyone who murders another human being is in essence carrying out that vial act against God Himself.   It is this violation of the sanctity of human life that God considers so serious that He demands that the governing authorities end the life of the murderer (Rom. 13:1-7).  Therefore every time a murderer is put to death it becomes a vivid declare to society that God’s image in man is not to be violated.

As we said earlier, it is the soul of man that makes human life unique and sacred before God.   When does a living soul come into existence?   God answers that question in Gen. 1:28.  In the garden God told Adam and Eve to reproduce, conceiving and bringing into life human beings just like themselves.  Since God defines humanity as the combination of a physical body and a spiritual soul then we must conclude that at conception both body and soul are brought into existence.  Even though it may at first appear as only a physical mass of cells, because it also bears the image of God it is fully human making its life sacred before God.  God therefore, considers the act of the abortionist as vial an act as the murderer who guns down his enemy.  It is more than an attack on the individual in the womb; it is also an attack on God Himself!

It is therefore God’s declaration that human is life is sacred and to be respected that calls for the death penalty for the murderer and the preservation of life in the womb.  Any departure from this universal principle of God is to deny His existence as Creator God and to undermine our basic liberties by lowering man to the level of an animal.   Our founding understood the importance of the sanctity of human life and recognition of a Creator God for our nation to be a safe haven of freedom and liberty.  They expressed this in the words of the Declaration of Independence when they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” 

As our society is rapidly turning more and more secular, the abandonment of the sanctity of life is showing up in all facets of American Society.  No longer can Chaplains pray in Jesus name.  No longer are crosses allowed in military cemeteries.  Mandatory abortion coverage in health care tramples upon religious freedom.  America needs to once again catch the vision that if this nation is to remain strong and free, it must recognize that our allegiance and strength must come from the Creating God of all things.