Jesus’ love doesn’t replace death penalty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This is in response to a  letter to the editor in the May 20 newspaper. The lady who wrote objected to the executions of two criminals who were convicted of heinous crimes and sentenced to death. While I understand her sentiment and compassion, I must disagree with her on her Biblical reasoning against these executions.

The Old Testament has many laws concerning man’s relationship and treatment of one another, including prohibitions against lying, stealing and adultery (no wonder Congress wants to keep the Ten Commandments off government property).

The primary law in man’s relationship to his fellow man is “Thou shalt not kill.”

The New Testament reinforces this law with such teachings by Jesus as “Love your enemies, and pray for them which spitefully use you.” In this regard, the letter-writer was correct.

But where she erred was in equating the government’s responsibility to protect society with the individual’s responsibility to love human life. The concept of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life” is speaking about the government’s responsibility to protect people by punishing those who disregard the sanctity of life.

Jesus did not “replace” this law, as she stated. Jesus stated he came to “fulfill” or uphold the law, not replace it.

The government’s obligation to protect society, even if it means executing an offender of society, is not to be confused with the individual’s responsibility to “love one another.”

Rev. Spruce Derden

Natchez