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Author Topic: Pro-Life & Anti-Death Penalty  (Read 9854 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jakub
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« on: October 26, 2004, 04:36:53 PM »

Someone correct me, I don't know if this question is covered by the Political Ban but.....
has anybody noticed by alot of Pro-Life people are Pro- Death Penalty ?

I know the Church of Rome is against the Death Penalty but have not seen much from the Orthodox point of view.

james
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2004, 04:52:48 PM »

Can't speak for the Orthodox, but in general I'm pro-life (against abortion/euthanasia) and pro-death penalty (but with reservations).
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2004, 05:00:03 PM »

Quote
I know the Church of Rome is against the Death Penalty but have not seen much from the Orthodox point of view.

I have heard in one of Pope John Pauls more recent encyclicals that he talks about the death penalty issue. He admitted that there are rare times that a government may have justification in using the death penalty.
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2004, 05:19:45 PM »

Nacho,

The RCCC #2267, last paragraph states,"Today in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for the effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm, without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself, the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically non-existent".

james
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2004, 05:39:03 PM »

To me pro-life means just that...abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, unjust wars...the whole ball o'wax.
"Pro-life" isn't an abstraction to me; I left a job at a large medical center( a level 3 trauma center) for a small suburban hospital which has less possibilities for promotion and learning oppurtunites so as not be involved in abortion even indirectly. Oh, yeah, and I had to take a pay cut also (always nice).
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2004, 06:47:34 PM »

Crucifer,

I am one Orthodox who agrees with your "whole ball of wax".

Demetri
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2004, 07:00:37 PM »

I've always thought during the times of war & conflict, a "Devils Brigade" for offenders would be a good means of redemption. Of course these select offenders would have to volunteer and have sincerity in their request for redemption. At the moment I can't think of other applications.

james
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2004, 07:18:57 PM »

As a Christian, a Christian Orthodox, I am uncomfortable with labells, 'of the this or that party. I am a Christian. My values stem from that. These contemporary groupings appear often to be as much about 'me' and 'not me'.

From earliest times abortion has been upheld as something we must not do. If you have read the Didache, Our Lord is quoted there as specifically speaking against this grave sin. But one does not need to belong to some party of grouping so to believe, but to accept the teaching handed down to us.

As to the death penalty. I am neither for it nor against it. (Although some have heard me advocate the ultimate penalty for non-disabled motorists who park in dedicated spaces for those with disabilities).

God gives civil authorities the responsibility to restrain the lawless and lawbreakers. I find no problem with this, provided only it is done justly and, where appropriate, with mercy. To draw comfort from my local authority  strongly implementing the death penalty or being dead set against it would not concern me. What would concern me was whether it was effective in restraining the lawless and lawbreakers, whether it protected the weak and the vunerable, and whether it tempered justice with mercy, were appropriate.

Like much in civil life many politicians and those with strong political views appear - I believe - to confuse activity with action. If my civil authority executes more villians than any other civil authority but fails to control or reduce murder and violent crime, the death penalty appears not an act that one can defend before the Almighty. And if another civil authority is dead set against the death penalty and fails to control and reduce murder or violent crime then it too not too act in a way that may be defended before God. Of course, the political classes in either case will construct rationale's that turn such failure of their responsibility into anything but. If the voters think they like it of course they will keep on executing or not executing, regardless.

For others the death penalty appears to be linked to some reprehensible Old Testament 'eye for an eye' redneck mentality. Yet, this was a constraint to ensure the prevention of excessive and disproportionate punishment. Quite progressive in those times, I suspect.

Elements of the various camps on any and all these viewpoints appear to have beliefs and attitudes alien to Christianity, and as such I am simply a Christian.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2004, 07:19:52 PM by gphadraig » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2004, 08:47:20 PM »

I am very Orthodox and Pro-Life and anti-death penalty.  I believe a person guilty of murder should be put away for their natural life.

I think most pro-death penalty folks would come to my way of thinking if they knew for sure that these characters would be kept in jail their entire life.  We are not talking self defence and manslaughter cases here. We are talking cold blooded murder cases.

There are bad people in this world and should be treated accordingly.

JoeS'

//Someone correct me, I don't know if this question is covered by the Political Ban but.....
has anybody noticed by alot of Pro-Life people are Pro- Death Penalty ?

I know the Church of Rome is against the Death Penalty but have not seen much from the Orthodox point of view.

james//


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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2004, 10:30:31 PM »

In 1989, the OCA passed a resolution stating, "BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Ninth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America supports the abolition of the death penalty in this and all countries and does urge our elected and appointed officials in those states where prisoners are still executed to introduce and support appropriate legislation aimed at abolishing the death penalty."
http://www.deathpenaltyreligious.org/education/statements/orthodox.html

The Orthodox Church has been unequivocably pro-life, though you'll occasionally come across a small number of Orthodox of a pro-choice slant who'll say the Church is mistaken.  Not very often, but they are there.  A few tares in the wheat, you can say.

I'm both pro-life and anti-death penalty.  Besides my desire to adhere to the Church's teachings, there are a few important reasons why I'm against the death penalty:

1. It's not carried out perfectly.  We don't need to rely on anecdotal evidence; we know for a fact that innocent people are being sent to death row because they are routinely being let out due to new DNA evidence.  I don't know of anyone who can reasonably argue that the death penalty is a worthy endeavor if even one innocent person is killed wrongly.  Perhaps the government can be right about 75% of time and this is ok when it's building bridges and putting out forest fires, but it's an unacceptable percentage when the life of a citizen is at stake.

2. It forever closes off a person from 'turning' to Christ.

3.  And most importantly, we have a perfect example of someone wrongly killed by the death penalty - Jesus.  If it happened to Him, it can happen to anyone one of us.

As far as war is concerned, it's a mixed picture.  You can find Church Fathers like St. Basil who say wars of justice and defense of religion are permitted.  Orthodox monks and priests fought against the Germans in Crete in WWII, and there is a monument near the Prevali Monastery of Abbot Agathangelos Lagouvardos holding a gun (www.preveli.org).
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2004, 10:38:11 PM »

When God gave Moses the laws for the Israelites, He knew what He was doing. And there are quite a few instances in Scripture where it says that whoever does so and so  should be put to death. And those particular instances go way beyond what our courts practise. Why was God pro death penalty?

I think God is and always has been very pro-life - don't you think?
And He is also very anti-death - Christ's redeeming sacrifice being the epitome of that.
Yet at the same time we read in 2.Peter 2:9-17 those very noteworthy words:

Quote
9.  The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
 10.  But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
 11.  Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
 12.  But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
 13.  And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
 14.  Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
 15.  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
 16.  But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
 17.  These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

If we live in a society and culture that follows "Godly standards", death penalty would not and should not be necessary, even if it was part of the law of the land.

If we live in a society and culture where the name of God Most High is a curse word and even the children at school get reprimanded for using the name above all names, then the death penalty in itself is no remedy for the situation and becomes an instrument of a lawless and morally corrupt legislature.

Scripture says very clearly in Romans 13:1-5 what to think of worldly authority:

"1.  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
 2.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
 3.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
 4.  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
 5.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."



Shiloah -  against abortion and wishing there would be no such offenses committed that "qualify" for death penalty in  those states of our nation where death penalty is applied.




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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2004, 10:44:30 PM »

I believe that I agree with gphadraig here. Certainly there is no question as to abortion. When it comes to the death penalty, I really don't lean one way or the other strongly, but think it is a matter to be dealt with by the civil government. When one reads about some of the punishments handed out by Emporer Saints (Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, etc.) and "Christian governments" like Byzantium, I think one will find it harder to criticize our modern governments for doing something as "drastic" as putting someone to death for raping someone and then killing them. I don't want to come out exactly "pro death penalty" here, but I'll also mention that if we are going to say that being pro-life and pro-death-penalty is contradictory, we will be judging a lot of saintly people down through the ages.
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2004, 11:07:05 PM »

I am an Orthodox Christian who is pro-life (in reference to abortion and euthanasia) and anti-death penalty. I do, however, support the right of a nation-state to defend itself militarily, provided that every possible care is taken to protect innocent life on both sides.
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2004, 11:25:11 PM »

Being pro-life and pro-death penalty isn't contradictory, because the death penalty is for guilty people, whereas a foetus is innocent.  It's just not in the same category.  I myself am pro-life and pro-death penalty.  "Whoever shed's man's blood, by man's hand his blood shall be shed."
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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2004, 12:01:04 AM »

It does require some serious thought, especially when a person says he/she is pro-life and professes to be a follower of Christ.

james

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« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2004, 12:34:44 AM »

Crucifer,

I am one Orthodox who agrees with your "whole ball of wax".

Demetri

As do I.

Quote
In 1989, the OCA passed a resolution stating, "BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Ninth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America supports the abolition of the death penalty in this and all countries and does urge our elected and appointed officials in those states where prisoners are still executed to introduce and support appropriate legislation aimed at abolishing the death penalty."
www.deathpenaltyreligious.org/...s/orthodox.html

Wonderful!

Quote
I'm both pro-life and anti-death penalty.  Besides my desire to adhere to the Church's teachings, there are a few important reasons why I'm against the death penalty:

And they are good ones.

Quote
Being pro-life and pro-death penalty isn't contradictory, because the death penalty is for guilty people, whereas a foetus is innocent.  It's just not in the same category.  I myself am pro-life and pro-death penalty.  "Whoever shed's man's blood, by man's hand his blood shall be shed."

We're not under that anymore.  We're not to repay evil with evil.  As Shiloah referenced, God will repay the evil man; we are not to do so.
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« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2004, 12:42:23 AM »

Another question is, how does a government expect to teach it's citizens that killing is wrong by killing?  The death penalty isn't about taking criminals out of circulation effectively.  If it was, it wouldn't cost more than putting them away for life.  It's about vengeance.  In some people's eyes, vengeance is justice.  In my eyes, as an Orthodox Christian, it's sinful, as vengeance is not a virture I'm tought by my Creator to pursue.  Even if the death penalty continues to exist, the virtuous option is to forgive the offender and at least try to give him his life, even if spent behind bars.  To insist upon the death penalty for the satisfaction of a vendetta is nowhere near Orthodox.  And to top it all off, there's so much DNA evidence coming to light that's revealing the faultiness of the death penalty system that it proves the system's fallibility.  And I don't think, as an Orthodox Christian, that I want to support a system of state-sanctioned termination of human life, particularly one that has problems with accidentally killing innocent people.
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« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2004, 12:44:34 AM »

The death penalty isn't about taking criminals out of circulation effectively.  If it was, it wouldn't cost more than putting them away for life.  It's about vengeance.  In some people's eyes, vengeance is justice.  In my eyes, as an Orthodox Christian, it's sinful, as vengeance is not a virture I'm tought by my Creator to pursue.

Yes, exactly.
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« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2004, 01:30:03 AM »

Another question is, how does a government expect to teach it's citizens that killing is wrong by killing?  The death penalty isn't about taking criminals out of circulation effectively.  If it was, it wouldn't cost more than putting them away for life.  It's about vengeance.  

Hm, did not know that.  I thought it was more expensive to keep them alive, you know, crowding jails and having to build more, etc., so it was just *easier* and more *cost effective* to just end them.  I could also see the family of one killed saying "i'll be d@#%ed if I'm paying to keep this b@$%&^ alive."
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« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2004, 03:07:13 AM »

I'm still for the death penalty, but with much reservation. I think it should be reserved for the few monsters in society such as serial murderers that have nothing but evil in thier heart. People like that deserve what's coming to them, and in those cases I think the state is justified in making a few good examples of these kind of people for the good of the public. I still haven't seen enough historical evidence that would merit the Church to declare the death penalty an evil because good people throughout history have been on both sides of the issue. What we should all be concentrating on is the abortion problem, that by far outweights anything thousands of times over because this intrinsic evil has become so accepted that people in the Church are actually supporting organizations/groups/political parties that perpetuate this even more which is  truely sad  :'(
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« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2004, 03:29:17 AM »

Quote
It's about vengeance.

Actually, it's about Scripture and Tradition. Ad hominem is exactly the reason that I don't get into these types of discussions. That, and the fact that I used to debate this with theonomists and they always condemned me for not wanting to put homosexuals and others to death. What a discussion to get tangled in!
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« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2004, 09:17:43 AM »

Quote
Hm, did not know that.  I thought it was more expensive to keep them alive, you know, crowding jails and having to build more, etc., so it was just *easier* and more *cost effective* to just end them.  I could also see the family of one killed saying "i'll be d@#%ed if I'm paying to keep this b@$%&^ alive."


A Duke University study found... "The death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life." ( The costs of processing murder cases in North Carolina / Philip J. Cook, Donna B. Slawson ; with the assistance of Lori A. Gries. [Durham, NC] : Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, 1993.)

"The death penalty costs California $90 million annually beyond the ordinary costs of the justice system - $78 million of that total is incurred at the trial level." (Sacramento Bee, March 18, 1988).

"A 1991 study of the Texas criminal justice system estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at $2,316,655. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000." (Punishment and the Death Penalty, edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum 1995 p.109 )

"Florida spent an estimated $57 million on the death penalty from 1973 to 1988 to achieve 18 executions - that is an average of $3.2 million per execution."
(Miami Herald, July 10, 1988).

"Florida calculated that each execution there costs some $3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost $17000/year, a comparable statistic for life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000."
(The Geography of Execution... The Capital Punishment Quagmire in America, Keith Harries and Derral Cheatwood 1997 p.6)

Figures from the General Accounting Office are close to these results. Total annual costs for all U.S. Prisons, State and Federal, was $17.7 billion in 1994 along with a total prison population of 1.1 million inmates. That amounts to $16100 per inmate/year.
(GOA report and testimony FY-97 GGD-97-15 )

(source: The Economics of Capital Punishment)
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« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2004, 09:38:41 AM »

Wow.  I don't really understand why it would be so expensive to execute someone.  What, are they getting these potassium injections off the black market? Huh

At any rate, if it is more "cost effective" to keep them in jail for life, then yes, i'll have to agree that it just seems unnecessary to execute them.  If they're in jail for life, then they're not out doing these atrocities anymore, same effect as killing them except obviously more charitable.  I don't see how anyone benefits from the death of another person.
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« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2004, 09:54:48 AM »

One reason why it costs more is because of the time and energy involved in the apellate process, which is the only protection someone convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death has against an aberrant miscarriage of justice.  I've read that nearly half of the death penalty cases reviewed under federal habeaus corpus provisions are overturned, or at least the death penalty was overturned.

The fact that there have been people in recent years wrongly executed or even on death row who have been innocent shows, at least to me, that the system isn't foolproof enough.  If just one innocent person dies at the hands of the state, that, too, is murder most cold, but who brings justice to the family of the decedent?  Aside from the financial cost, that is my main objection to the death penalty.  I simply don't trust the state to be right 100 percent of the time and without that assurance, I can't, in good conscience, support the death penalty for even the most egregious offenders.
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2004, 10:26:38 AM »

No abortion (except in some... very rare cases).
No death penalty....

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« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2004, 10:44:01 AM »

From my experience in prison ministry I can say that this whole topic is a very heart wrenching one. We deal with human beings who have gone wrong and who have committed all kinds of at times very bad things against others, be it adults or children.  The question is: Why? Why does someone commit a certain crime? And if it is not drug related, why does someone steal, kill and destroy? Does that ring a bell?

Look at what St.Paul has to say in this regard. He says to the Ephesians (Eph.2:1-5; emphasis added)

" And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
 2.  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3.  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
 4.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
 5.  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) ..."

If we as a nation do not support the things of God and of His Christ, then we are helpers of what St.John calls "antichrist" in his letters (1.John 2:22 and 4:3 and 2.John 1:6-7). If we do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God and do not teach and train our society, adults and children, in His precepts, then we cater to the lawless one and you are free to call it whatever you want.

In any case, we then not only open the door to demons, but we also reap what we - as a corporate body of a people - sow.

Although we are all born sinners, nobody is born a murderer, nobody is born a rapist, nobody is born a thief or a robber, but ask yourself, what was missing in such a person's life that they became that criminal?

Look at Moses, for a moment. Moses was a murderer. He killed a person in cold anger. Why? Because he saw another human being suffer. Because he was confronted with the evil of an un-Godly society. If they had brought moses to justice for his crime, well, thank God He had other plans. But, what I am saying is, if they had brought moses to justice and killed him in revenge, that would not have changed the Egyptian un-Godliness.

Killing offenders with the death penalty is like treating symptoms of a disease rather than taking care of its root cause.

As long as we are Christians we have the ministry of reconciliation - reconciling people to God. But for a non-Christian society and government and judicial system, this mandate does not apply.

Shiloah
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« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2004, 10:57:31 AM »

Off topic but related:

Too Dear!

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« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2004, 01:10:46 PM »

I'm prolife and anti-death penalty. Humans are not God, therefore we don't have the right to end ones life. period.
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« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2004, 01:13:01 PM »

FYI if you think the courts are protecting the rights of people sentenced to death, there was a case a few years ago where the defense attorney slept throughout the entire trial.  The defendant was convicted and sentenced to death.  He appealed his conviction on the grounds that he did not have adequate counsel.  His conviction was upheld.  
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« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2004, 03:06:21 PM »

I'm prolife and anti-death penalty. Humans are not God, therefore we don't have the right to end ones life. period.

Then why did God authorize man to use capital punishment in Genesis 9 (and this was before the Mosaic law)?  Why did Paul in Romans 13 call the government officials God's "ministers" who "do not wield the sword in vain"?  It seems that at least through stretches of history God "delegated" His authority to man to take the lives of those guilty of murder.  Even Christ acknowledged to Pilate that God had given him such authority.
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« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2004, 03:24:08 PM »

Just because God gave man authority to do it that doesn't mean he has to exercise it.  Penal science has progressed quite a bit since the time of Christ.  We can now put people away where they will do no harm to society ever again in a manner that will cost the taxpayer less.  

Perhaps my own non-fear of my mortality colors my views on this.  For myself, I really would rather die than have my freedom taken away from me to the point where I am only allowed to leave the confines of my little room once a day for an hour.  

I really don't want to see innocent people killed by the State because of an abberation in the judicial process.  That is what scares me the most.
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« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2004, 03:44:32 PM »

Although we are all born sinners

This is news to me. According to the Orthodox Faith we are most expressedly NOT born sinners.  We inherit death from Adam, but not his guilt or anyone else's.  The idea that we are BORN sinners, that sin is an intrinsic part of human nature is Augustinianism, not the Orthodox Faith.
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« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2004, 05:11:34 PM »

Quote
Then why did God authorize man to use capital punishment in Genesis 9 (and this was before the Mosaic law)?  Why did Paul in Romans 13 call the government officials God's "ministers" who "do not wield the sword in vain"?  It seems that at least through stretches of history God "delegated" His authority to man to take the lives of those guilty of murder.  Even Christ acknowledged to Pilate that God had given him such authority.

Good points & I agree. As I stated before, I think it's obvious that God gave the state this authority. I believe a state should have this as an option to exercise, but I think it should be used in very rare situations. It should be used for monsters like serial killers, or people like Sadam Hussein or Osama Bin Ladin & his minions who deserve it.
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« Reply #33 on: October 27, 2004, 05:59:37 PM »

Then why did God authorize man to use capital punishment in Genesis 9 (and this was before the Mosaic law)?  Why did Paul in Romans 13 call the government officials God's "ministers" who "do not wield the sword in vain"?  It seems that at least through stretches of history God "delegated" His authority to man to take the lives of those guilty of murder.  Even Christ acknowledged to Pilate that God had given him such authority.

All right: Genesis 9, yes, that's saying that what goes around comes around...but at the hands of which man?  Doesn't specify at all.  Government?  Vigilante on a vendetta?  Who sheds the blood in retribution?  Or is it rather a variation of Christ's "if you live by the sword, you die by the sword" as a natural outcome of a violent life?  God said that man would, as a natural consequence, die if he ate from the tree--not that God would kill him.  So too, I think, is Scripture only going so far as to say that, if a man sheds another man's blood (and does this extend even to non-mortal bloodshed?  It seems to!) he will meet the same fate...not that a ruling governing body will collectively decide to execute the man.  That's nowhere in the text.

But if we're using pre-Mosaic stuff here, a question: why did God not kill Cain for what he did to Abel?  Why, indeed, did God even go so far as to put a mark on Cain that would keep other men from doing so?  Is this a divine endorsement of mercy towards murderers, giving them chances to repent?  I won't say definitively yes, but it's something to consider, in light of the "a life for a life" mentality.

Mosaic Law: We can't use OT law on ourselves.  If we're going to use the OT law as a standard, we have to be consistent.  When was the last time anyone killed a young man or woman for being disrespectful to his/her parents?  Or for committing adultery?  Or for committing (forgive the bluntness) beastiality?  These are all things deserving of death, according to the Torah, yet none are touted by the pro-death penalty Christian right as reasons for use of the death penalty.  

Romans 13 isn't a call for the death penalty either; not necessarily:

Quote
v. 4:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

To execute WRATH, not execute the person.  In other words, if someone does something evil, the rulers have the God-given right to intervene, discipline and punish him or her.  No mention or endorsement of the death penalty is specifically made here.  Rather it is read into it by those who see the death penalty as the ultimate justice for someone being killed, with a similar idea of Gen. 9 in mind, no doubt.

The problem with this, though, is this: what if we're wrong?  How about, what do we do when we're wrong?  When we shed the blood of a man who didn't shed a man's blood?  The Israelites had supernatural insight as to who was guilty; we have no such guarantee...another reason we in secular America have no right to take the life of another into our hands.
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« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2004, 07:59:03 PM »

Although we are all born sinners

This is news to me. According to the Orthodox Faith we are most expressedly NOT born sinners.  We inherit death from Adam, but not his guilt or anyone else's.  The idea that we are BORN sinners, that sin is an intrinsic part of human nature is Augustinianism, not the Orthodox Faith.

I was thinking along the lines of Matth.19:16-17 and Rom.5:12 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
 17.  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."

"12.  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

I am not a theologian. Please explain to me what the Orthodox faith teaches about being born sinless. And thank you kindly,
Shiloah

Just found another Scripture reference in John 9:34 "34.  They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out."
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« Reply #35 on: October 27, 2004, 08:21:20 PM »

Another pro-life and anti-death penalty guy here. I feel that in the past, the death penalty was probably the only way to effectively keep certain people from committing any more crimes. These days, though, we can quite easily keep someone alive for the rest of their natural life in prison, where they are not able to harm innocent people (and for those of you who don't think prison is punishment enough, try talking to somebody who's actually been in there sometime). In our society, with our technology, the death penalty is obsolete.
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« Reply #36 on: October 27, 2004, 09:06:07 PM »

I'm pro-life without qualification and pro-death penalty in principle.

Romans 13 isn't a call for the death penalty either; not necessarily:To execute WRATH, not execute the person.  In other words, if someone does something evil, the rulers have the God-given right to intervene, discipline and punish him or her.  

I don't know...how exactly do you "intervene, discipline, and punish" someone with a sword?  Smiley  Capital punishment may not be specifically endorsed here, but it is not specifically rejected either.  Compared to the death penalty, life imprisonment is mercy, but compared to freedom, it is wrath.  Wrath is wrath, whether it takes the form of life imprisonment or the gas chamber.  Saint Paul gives the government no specific advice on figuring out how much wrath is too much wrath.  I think he leaves that matter to the state.  That's not to say that the government can execute anyone it wants just for the heck of it, but they evidently have the authority to execute if the circumstances warrant it.

Quote
No mention or endorsement of the death penalty is specifically made here.  Rather it is read into it by those who see the death penalty as the ultimate justice for someone being killed, with a similar idea of Gen. 9 in mind, no doubt.

Could it also be said that those who oppose the death penalty read too much into the "merciful" statements of the NT?  After all, mercy doesn't preclude justice.  

Quote
The problem with this, though, is this: what if we're wrong?  How about, what do we do when we're wrong?  When we shed the blood of a man who didn't shed a man's blood?  The Israelites had supernatural insight as to who was guilty; we have no such guarantee...another reason we in secular America have no right to take the life of another into our hands.

I don't know that the Israelites had supernatural insight into who was and was not guilty...where is this?  

The flaws in the capital punishment process make it an undesirable option today, especially when we can imprison people.  Then again, what does that mean?  It seems that there are many people who get out much earlier than the letter of their sentences dictates, and there are not a few instances where the punishment does not fit the crime, on either end of the spectrum.  The criminal justice system itself seems to be in need of reform.  This is why I think that, practically speaking, the death penalty is excessive these days, but in principle I don't have a problem with its just implementation by the state.
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« Reply #37 on: October 27, 2004, 09:43:08 PM »

Even Christ acknowledged to Pilate that God had given him such authority.

Evidently God gave the likes of Hitler and Stalin such authority as well.  Just because God gives us all free will and puts some in high places doesn't automatically sanctify their decisions or actions.  Christ was emphasising the fact that any power in the world is given by God...He wasn't saying that everyone who has it does infallible justice with it.
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« Reply #38 on: October 27, 2004, 10:39:14 PM »

Am I to suppose then that the "sword" to which St. Paul referred was used to tap the criminal on the cheek?   Roll Eyes  

Not getting out my concordance now am poor at memorizing references, but "because justice is not speedily executed against evildoers, the heart of man is fully set to do evil." No sentence is a deterrent if it is not certainly and quickly applied.  

Actually, "life in prison" usually means just a few years and then parole.  Those who DO remain in prison often take out their violence on guards and on other prisoners.  

Even the Old Testament taught that the punishment was to fit the crime:  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, -- not head chopped off for tooth.  

Then again, is the murder of millions of people (e.g. Stalin) any different from the murder of one or two victims?  If so, then on what basis?  

I think there is a lot to consider on the matter of the death penalty, which is rarely applied and, in the USA, never in a reasonable time frame -- hence, no deterrent and very high cost.

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« Reply #39 on: October 27, 2004, 11:03:45 PM »

Am I to suppose then that the "sword" to which St. Paul referred was used to tap the criminal on the cheek?   Roll Eyes  

Not getting out my concordance now am poor at memorizing references, but "because justice is not speedily executed against evildoers, the heart of man is fully set to do evil." No sentence is a deterrent if it is not certainly and quickly applied.  

Actually, "life in prison" usually means just a few years and then parole.  Those who DO remain in prison often take out their violence on guards and on other prisoners.  

Even the Old Testament taught that the punishment was to fit the crime:  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, -- not head chopped off for tooth.  

Then again, is the murder of millions of people (e.g. Stalin) any different from the murder of one or two victims?  If so, then on what basis?  

I think there is a lot to consider on the matter of the death penalty, which is rarely applied and, in the USA, never in a reasonable time frame -- hence, no deterrent and very high cost.

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That's not true anymore.  There were many sentencing reforms in recent years and now our prisons are full of people sentenced to life in prison.  There's actually now a health crisis due to many elderly people in prison.
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« Reply #40 on: October 28, 2004, 12:11:23 AM »

I don't know...how exactly do you "intervene, discipline, and punish" someone with a sword?  Smiley

"The sword" is used to indicate the "strong arm of the law," as it were, the ability (and, according to St. Paul, the authority) to enforce the laws of the land.  

Quote
Capital punishment may not be specifically endorsed here, but it is not specifically rejected either.

And that's fine with me.  I'm not trying to look at this verse as an indictment against the death penalty.  If it doesn't say one way or another, OK; I'm just making the point that those who want to use this as justification for the death penalty need to look elsewhere, as this verse doesn't deal with it.

Quote
Compared to the death penalty, life imprisonment is mercy, but compared to freedom, it is wrath.

I agree, and it seems a more "Christian wrath," imo.

Quote
Could it also be said that those who oppose the death penalty read too much into the "merciful" statements of the NT?

Yup!  Grin

Quote
After all, mercy doesn't preclude justice.

True.  But is the death penalty really "justice" from a Christian point of view?

Quote
I don't know that the Israelites had supernatural insight into who was and was not guilty...where is this?

Hmm...I'll have to add on to this post later, because I honestly can't remember any specific examples right off the top of my head...I seem to remember a time when someone stole some plunder and God told them directly that something was wrong...and women caught in adultery made to drink an elixir that would either kill them or not...maybe I'm off on this.  I'll check.
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« Reply #41 on: October 28, 2004, 05:30:07 PM »

I'm both pro-life and anti-death penalty.  Besides my desire to adhere to the Church's teachings, there are a few important reasons why I'm against the death penalty:

1. It's not carried out perfectly.  We don't need to rely on anecdotal evidence; we know for a fact that innocent people are being sent to death row because they are routinely being let out due to new DNA evidence.  I don't know of anyone who can reasonably argue that the death penalty is a worthy endeavor if even one innocent person is killed wrongly.  Perhaps the government can be right about 75% of time and this is ok when it's building bridges and putting out forest fires, but it's an unacceptable percentage when the life of a citizen is at stake.

2. It forever closes off a person from 'turning' to Christ.

3.  And most importantly, we have a perfect example of someone wrongly killed by the death penalty - Jesus.  If it happened to Him, it can happen to anyone one of us.

Starting from a purely secular standpoint, the US Constitution clearly permits the death penalty (5th Amendment (applicable to the Federal government), "nor [shall any person] be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law" ; 14th Amendment, "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law").

Moving to the morality of the death penalty itself, I believe the arguments from Scripture that we should obey civil authority carry great weight.  However, given what we know today about the unreliability of the criminal justice system when it comes to sentencing people to death (as noted by Stralets in his #1, above), this Orthodox Christian can no longer condone the state's use of a penalty that, almost without doubt, has led and will continue to lead to the execution of people not guilty of the crimes for which they have been sentenced.

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« Reply #42 on: October 28, 2004, 06:47:04 PM »

Hmm...I'll have to add on to this post later, because I honestly can't remember any specific examples right off the top of my head...I seem to remember a time when someone stole some plunder and God told them directly that something was wrong...and women caught in adultery made to drink an elixir that would either kill them or not...maybe I'm off on this.  I'll check.

Well, folks, guess I'd better withdraw that point; couldn't find anything to substantiate a divine verdict within Israel.  And if I'm actually not smokin' some serious $#!+ and someone wants to clue me in on a reference I lost, feel free...

I still stand with those mentioning the inconsistency of the DP as a reason to ban it, though....
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« Reply #43 on: October 28, 2004, 06:48:07 PM »

Starting from a purely secular standpoint, the US Constitution clearly permits the death penalty (5th Amendment (applicable to the Federal government), "nor [shall any person] be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law" ; 14th Amendment, "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law").

This should be referring to the person/people whose life/lives were taken by the person being sentenced to the death penalty.  The "due process of law" part is the sentencing, so it's up to the gov't and the courts to determine the ultimate outcome of that due process.  
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« Reply #44 on: October 28, 2004, 07:25:41 PM »

This should be referring to the person/people whose life/lives were taken by the person being sentenced to the death penalty.  The "due process of law" part is the sentencing, so it's up to the gov't and the courts to determine the ultimate outcome of that due process.  


Absolutely.  My point was merely that, so far as the text of the Constitution goes, the government -- Federal or State -- may impose the death penalty provided it provides the defendant with due process of law.  That, of course, leads to the question:  How much is enough?  I believe the current system cannot guarantee that only the "right" people will be executed, and is therefore insupportable.

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