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LIFE ISSUES

Capital Punishment; yes or no?  

 

Some issues in life are like minefields because every step we take in discussing those issues could trigger a powerful explosion. The subject of capital punishment is just such a minefield (and I must be crazy to wander around in it like this!)  

 

For a few people this issue is black and white. When it comes to a vote about the rights and wrongs of the death sentence, some answer with a categorical "yes" while others are equally emphatic with a "no".   But for most people, the issue is more complex. A one-eyed, hardline attitude is totally inadequate for them. These people recognise the subject is filled with heart-searching questions related to the giving and taking of life (whether that be an act of murder or a subsequent, state-sanctioned execution), degrees of responsibility and accountability and, above all else, the sacredness of life.  

 

I acknowledge the complexities.  

 

What I observe is this: the further we move away from a dynamic belief in the Creator God, the cheaper human life becomes. The history of the human race bears irrefutable testimony to that truth. Those who authorize and initiate genocide on a massive scale invariably regard human life as of little or no value.   I also personally own a fair degree of anger about the double standard that has invaded our thinking in this area.

 

I listened to a debate recently in which one person was opposed to capital punishment on the basis that the life of the murderer was valuable and should not be violated. What got me all fired up was the total silence about the sacredness of the life of the victim.   Amid all the complexities, one of my pleas would be that our legal system practices equal justice in recognising the value of both the life of the one who is found guilty of murder and the life of the victim by the sentence that it imposes on the one who took that life.  

 

Foundational to the whole discussion, surely, is the nature and value of human life. If we believe that we humans are nothing more than an "accident of nature" and differ from the animal world only in the higher level of our intelligence, then human life is relatively insignificant and anything but sacred.   But if we believe that we are each unique creations of a Creator God, then life is a very sacred gift. To take the life of another then becomes an issue of immense proportions.  

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