A few introductory thoughts:

1.        The family members of the 148 men and women that were killed by Saddam Hussein (or his orders) have endured more pain and suffering that I can even imagine.  My prayers and thoughts go out to them because of their grief.

2.        Murder is always wrong.

3.        I do not condone Saddam Hussein’s actions.

 

Saddam Hussein was recently given the death penalty for crimes against humanity.  He was responsible for the deaths of 148 men and women in 1982.  Saddam is a mean person who deserves to be punished for his actions.  This has lead me to think (crazily) about capitol punishment lately and would love some of your feedback.

 

Follow me here… is it possible to receive a blessing on earth for a good “deed” done?  Yes.  Jesus spoke of this in Matt. 6:2-4 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  For some reason, God would prefer to reward us Himself upon our entrance to Heaven than be praised by men on earth.  Can our reward be circumvented because it is received prematurely on earth?  A case can be made.

 

Keep following me… if a reward can be circumvented because it is prematurely received on earth, can the same be true about punishment?  Is it possible that we take matters into our own hands by administering justice instead of letting God do so?  Again, I believe a case can be made that we need to let God have his say in what justice is defined as.  This is a Christian notion (which not all of the world is) and would go against what many Christians and non-Christians believe but I’m OK with that.  This idea still permits punishment to be given to those that deserve it but I believe that the ultimate punishment of death should be left in God’s hands. 

 

I am having this discussion from afar, in a very safe environment surrounded by paperbacks and post-it notes; not sandbags and MREs.  I honestly see that and recognize my safety and security.  Perhaps my ideas would be different if I were wearing desert-colored underwear and have a clearer picture of what the enemies of the US are capable of.  I just want to get some of my thoughts on the table for possible discussion.  Please let me know where this idea is non-sensible.

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  1. Even if I were surrounded by MREs, I would like to think I’d still hold the opinion that enough people have been killed concerning this situation, and it was not worth one more life.
    Additionally, if you’re going to oppose the death penalty, you also have to oppose abortion and war, or you’re not being consistent in your belief that everyone has an inherent right to life, yes? I think so.

  2. I think there is a fundamental problem with the concept of, “a case can be made for.” You won’t hear me saying this very often, usually only when it’s convenient or helps support my belief so keep that in mind. The first problem is that God chooses foolishness to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). Cases being made don’t hold a candle to the way that God tends to work. I heard it once phrased this way: “weak is the new strong.” What I’m trying to get at is, in all human terms and infustructures revenge reigns. People are punished and peace is not upheld but God urges His followers to do things that seem foolish by the worlds standards like, oh I don’t know, let somebody live even if they have done wrong (what would Jesus say about that!?). Contrary to this point God also tells us that human institutions will always be and we are some-what encouraged to let them be and focus on following him at a more grass-roots level (see Galations and Matthew 22:21). But despite that I truly believe that, although it doesn’t make a lot of sense, we are to fight for peace and life despite what the world tells us. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense but it preserves things that God cares deeply about like peace and forgiveness. Jesus never used a clause when he told us to turn the other cheek.

  3. Feel free to add to this what Shakespeare Behind Bars contributes to your thoughts.

  4. interesting thoughts, jesse.  i have not studied this subject very closely in Scripture.  if you look at the Old Testament, you can see that God did, dare i say, endorse; capital punishment and war.  then again, it does say that “vengance is mine, says the Lord.”  I think that this may be a case of His ways are higher than our ways.  Okay, that may be a cop out, but.  A few thoughts:
    1) God does ask us to show grace.
    2) God does say that there are consequences for our actions.
    3) God does say that what we reap we will sow.

  5. I do not mean to offend anyone about my thoughts and am open to them being challenged or even dismissed because they are stupid or crazy.
    I’m not sure how to make sense of the destruction of many cities in the OT through the hands of the Israelites (God’s instrument).  I am separating capitol punishment from war in this scenario because Hussein’s fate was decided not on the battlefield but in the courtroom which is more calculated.
    Yes, there are consequences for our actions but that does not mean that they are all going to take place here on earth.
    Regarding reaping and sowing, true.  Reaping and sowing are connected but this does not give permission to take someone’s life.  If someone simply hates you, are you then justified in hating them in return?  I don’t think so.

  6. I think that by saying we are pre-empting God’s punishment on the wicked, is undermining or diminishing the concept of an eternity in Hell, outside of the presence of God.  Our human bodies are only temporary, a mere blink in the fabric of time.  Mass murderers, thieves and all sinners (me included) will face ultimate judgement upon entrance into the kingdom of Heaven.  If the sinner has accepted the gift offered through Christ, then all sins (even the “horrible” ones will be forgiven.  The laws of Saddams country allow for capital punishment.  By carrying out that punishment based on human laws, God’s judgement will still fall on Saddam when he visits the pearly gates, if only for a few brief seconds.  If Saddam has accepted Christ, then his government has rewarded him with an early visit to the great 19th hole of life. I think if we live in a society in which there is no punishment for the killing of innocents, then those who commit the crimes would feel a greater freedom to carry out the atrocities. 

  7. One other point that I have just remembered concerning this, which may or may not be beneficial to the conversation:
    If, as Christians, we believe that murder is wrong (Thou shall not kill), I’m not sure we should be able to consider capital punishment any differently.  Here is the kicker:  How is capital punhishment any different from a mob-mentality murder or lynching? I’d be eager to talk to Dr. Ruthi about this.

  8. Aaron, I am not speaking of a society where there is no punishment.  Saddam Hussein can still be punished for murder.  I am speaking about a society where we do not intentionally kill one another.  There is a big difference.

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