January 3, 2006
Capital Punishment Vs Right to Life
Capital punishment is the execution of someone by the state for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. The question of capital punishment, however, lies on whether it is morally right to take away the life of a human being. For instance, religious beliefs oppose to this issue, their idea of God and the right to life is how they base their argument on. On the other hand, the theory of utilitarianism justifies capital punishment as long as it creates a greater balance of happiness vs. unhappiness. The Retribution theory also supports capital punishment, the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth is what this principle defines to be human justice. Overall, capital punishment is an issue in which the right to life can be morally argued through the different views and ethical standards of religious beliefs, the theories of utilitarianism and retribution.
Christians believe God is the only one who can take away peoples lives. In the early history of Christianity, Christians supported the death penalty on the grounds of secular arguments. For instance, the Pope Innocent III defended the argument of capital punishment when he suggested, “The secular power can, without mortal sin, exercise judgment of blood, provided that it punishes with justice, not out of hatred, with prudence, not precipitation." This view changed, with development and value for human life. Christians became more aware of the negative effect that it was having in society. The death penalty was incompatible to the teaching of Jesus about forgiveness and compassion and also to God’s Law of Moses, sixth commandment, “Thou shall not kill" (Exodus 21:13). This principle changed the Christian faith and contributed to their belief of how God is the only one who should create and destroy life.
The right to life is one of the moral issues that Christians take into consideration when they examine and argue against the death penalty. For Christians life is a gift from God and no one but him has a right to take it. Their belief in compassion and forgiveness is what subordinates the idea of capital punishment. In fact Jesus once stated in the Bible; “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”. (Matthew 5:44). This is relevant to their belief in loving one another, because regardless of the wrongs that others might do to you, only God has the power and authority to punish them. Therefore, the respect that Christians have towards life is what makes them act against the moral issue of capital punishment.