The agency I work for has carried out the executions of four death row inmates this past year. What is the Christian response to the law, criminal justice and Capital Punishment? Then I ask myself the proverbial question, “What would Jesus do?”
This is what I know for certain: God choose the exact point in time that Christ would be born, live and die by crucifixion. Crucifixion is one of the most horrific forms of execution. The Roman’s perfected it. Yet God choose this as the means of death for His only Son.
Thinking like this leads me to believe that God must therefore believe in Capital Punishment.
Then I begin to wonder about the victim’s surviving family. How do they feel about Capital Punishment? Usually there are victim families present during an execution. How do they feel about the condemned being put down like Ole’ Shep in such a clinical environment? Does it provide them with closure to see the humane treatment of the condemned when that generally was not afforded to their family member who died at the criminal’s hand?
When does forgiveness ever come into play between the criminal and the victim’s family? Forgiveness is so cleansing, so healing… I’m merely asking questions here, I have no answers to offer.
I’m asking because this and some other issues I believed I stood firm on have recently been challenged.
Perhaps it is a good thing to reexamine our beliefs to see if they are in line with our values.
I look at the illegal immigration issue: how do I REALLY fell about illegal immigrants coming (sneaking) to our country? I know that here in the southwest it is a terrible financial burden on our economy and the local and state government. I know first hand the problems in prison due to the illegal alien criminal, the drug traffic and the gang activity.
What about Margarita and Juan who only want to come here, make money and send it back to Mexico and eventually return home? What about the thousands upon thousands who annually try to cross the dry and barren desert and are abandoned by the “Coyote” who is paid to bring them in? They are alone, in a desert without any water or food.
Why does my mind turn to the Holy Family leaving / fleeing Bethlehem to escape Herod’s slaughter of male children? They left their country and entered Egypt for a period of time. Yes, yes… I know immigration laws were nonexistent at that time, but just the same, I wonder…
This I know to be true: if I lived close to the border I would probably be setting up water stations on my land.
I hear the words echo from the sonnet of Emma Lazarus:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I, after all, am melting pot Americana. The blood of my people has passed through Ellis Island and ranged the forests and prairies of this nation.
What about war and the belief that violence, war, and the taking of lives are unacceptable ways of resolving disputes… This is a heated topic of discussion between the Hubs and me. He is a Viet Nam veteran and I was and generally am opposed to war. In the 60’s I was “another mother for peace” who wore a charm that said, “war is not healthy for children or other living things”.
But am I a pacifist? A man of God once told me the true mark of a pacifist is that when the conflict is on your soil, outside your very door, you would not lift a weapon to defend yourself or your family. Do I meet that criterion? I don’t believe so. I can be a She-bear when my family, my children and now my grandchildren are in danger.
I still believe the evidence shows most wars are politically motivated and I do not believe our sons and daughters are expendable. Yet I realize the threat to our nation, our culture via Al Qaeda is a very real and ever present danger.
So, how about you? What are your thoughts on capital punishment, illegal immigration and war? I don’t have the answers, but I do have questions!
2 John 1:3 The Message
3Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!