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Author Topic: Pro-Life & Anti-Death Penalty  (Read 9679 times) Average Rating: 0
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #45 on: October 28, 2004, 07:54:06 PM »

"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.

Back then, it symbolised the power of the government to execute criminals.  I don't think Saint Paul is necessarily casting that kind of authority aside.  And, as DT said, even Christ recognised that Pilate had the authority to put Him to death.  That doesn't necessarily mean that the civil authority will always correctly apply that power (and this would be sinful), but they do have that authority, which means it can be used correctly.  

Quote
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.

It doesn't deal explicitly with the death penalty, but I think it clearly alludes to the just authority of the state's government over its citizens, and I dare say that this power includes the execution of criminals provided everything that needs to be done for this act to be considered just is done.    

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

What do you think "Christian justice" is?  This is a good subtopic in this thread.
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« Reply #46 on: October 29, 2004, 03:06:40 PM »

In regard to Rom.13 here are two noteworthy links:
http://www.ipocministries.org/sheeps.htm
http://www.killology.com/
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« Reply #47 on: October 29, 2004, 04:31:34 PM »

Back then, it symbolised the power of the government to execute criminals.

I can see this, though I can also see it as compulsion.

Quote
It doesn't deal explicitly with the death penalty, but I think it clearly alludes to the just authority of the state's government over its citizens, and I dare say that this power includes the execution of criminals provided everything that needs to be done for this act to be considered just is done.
   

What would be considered "everything that needs to be done"?  And a question I have: would this verse which may very well prescribe the death penalty in some cases (again, I see your point) be applicable today?  It would be like the verses on slavery; they had servants in those days, but they don't now -- likewise they may have had to use the death penalty back then (though with the Roman Empire this hardly strikes me as a surprise, barbarous as they were), but with the increasingly accurate forensics and testing that we have today, with new evidence always coming forth, it would be foolhardy, imo, to see the death penalty in contemporary American society as morally justifiable.

Quote
What do you think "Christian justice" is?  This is a good subtopic in this thread.

Things that have been mentioned so far in this thread, such as lifetime separation from society w/hard labor, constant efforts at rehabilitation, giving them vocational training so as to give them skills...sigh...let me back up a bit, as your question is a hard one for me to answer, ultimately.

"Christian justice," to me, stands in contrast to what this world would deem "just."  IMO, I think the world would (and does) relate more to the Old Covenant of "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life."  "Christian justice" would be the repentance of the murderer and redemption of his soul and body -- nothing can bring back the life of the murdered, and if indeed the accused did commit the murder, there is nothing gained by killing him.  The dead are still dead, the victims' families are still chained in hate instead of bound by the inexplicable forgiveness that is Christ's message.

As has already been mentioned, the dp is seen by many (myself included) as a mob-mentality act of revenge.  We are not to take revenge; God is.  We give them every opportunity we can to repent, yet leave the final judgement up to God, whose judgement we know to be just.
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« Reply #48 on: October 29, 2004, 07:19:55 PM »

What would be considered "everything that needs to be done"?  And a question I have: would this verse which may very well prescribe the death penalty in some cases (again, I see your point) be applicable today?  It would be like the verses on slavery; they had servants in those days, but they don't now -- likewise they may have had to use the death penalty back then (though with the Roman Empire this hardly strikes me as a surprise, barbarous as they were), but with the increasingly accurate forensics and testing that we have today, with new evidence always coming forth, it would be foolhardy, imo, to see the death penalty in contemporary American society as morally justifiable.

Well, "everything that needs to be done" to make a specific application of the death penalty justified, IMO, would include exhaustively testing all evidence to be certain that the person facing such punishment is actually guilty of the crime, having the primary reason for seeking the measure be to protect citizens from such people and not simply vengeance, considering other alternative forms of punishment to see if they would be equally suitable and resorting to the death penalty only if it is necessary, etc.  In short, I agree with you that the death penalty is probably not advisable in America, both because of the shortcomings of the system and because we have other ways of protecting our citizens from these people.  However, I think in principle it could be allowed, provided it was just.  

Quote
Things that have been mentioned so far in this thread, such as lifetime separation from society w/hard labor, constant efforts at rehabilitation, giving them vocational training so as to give them skills...sigh...let me back up a bit, as your question is a hard one for me to answer, ultimately.

"Christian justice," to me, stands in contrast to what this world would deem "just."  IMO, I think the world would (and does) relate more to the Old Covenant of "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life."  "Christian justice" would be the repentance of the murderer and redemption of his soul and body -- nothing can bring back the life of the murdered, and if indeed the accused did commit the murder, there is nothing gained by killing him.  The dead are still dead, the victims' families are still chained in hate instead of bound by the inexplicable forgiveness that is Christ's message.

As has already been mentioned, the dp is seen by many (myself included) as a mob-mentality act of revenge.  We are not to take revenge; God is.  We give them every opportunity we can to repent, yet leave the final judgement up to God, whose judgement we know to be just.

Call me cynical, but I'm not at all that sure hardened criminals are even remotely interested in repentance.  Anything is possible for God, but how are these people going to find God if the Church does not introduce them to Him?  I may very well be uninformed, but I don't think ministry to criminals is high on the Church's current list of priorities, and that is something to be lamented.  It's all well and good for the Churches to protest the death penalty in favour of life imprisonment because it affords criminals the chance to repent, but how can this happen without the Churches going out to them and bringing them the Gospel?  Furthermore, something that seems to be completely neglected is ministry to the grieving families of victims who have suffered at the hands of these criminals.  It is natural to desire revenge, and to desire the destruction of one's enemies: read the Psalms.  But if we're going to tell them that it is better to leave vengeance to God and forgive our enemies while they're mourning the loss of a child, spouse, sibling, or friend, we better be there to bring them the Gospel too.  We can protest this all we want, but if we don't do something positive to counter it, it is all a waste of time.
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« Reply #49 on: October 29, 2004, 10:54:51 PM »

Mor wrote
Quote
I may very well be uninformed, but I don't think ministry to criminals is high on the Church's current list of priorities, and that is something to be lamented.  It's all well and good for the Churches to protest the death penalty in favour of life imprisonment because it affords criminals the chance to repent, but how can this happen without the Churches going out to them and bringing them the Gospel?  Furthermore, something that seems to be completely neglected is ministry to the grieving families of victims who have suffered at the hands of these criminals.  It is natural to desire revenge, and to desire the destruction of one's enemies: read the Psalms.  But if we're going to tell them that it is better to leave vengeance to God and forgive our enemies while they're mourning the loss of a child, spouse, sibling, or friend, we better be there to bring them the Gospel too.  We can protest this all we want, but if we don't do something positive to counter it, it is all a waste of time.      

You are indeed uninformed here, Mor. There is ministry in just about every correctional facility in the nation, but not by the Orthodox Church. There is only one Orthodox Prison Ministry out there that I know of, and that is the Antiochian Orthodox Priosn Ministry of Father Ogan http://www.antiochian.org/OCPM/ and they have great materials and do a wonderful job, but compared to all of the USA they are a tiny fraction of the overall prison ministries.

Since I am involved with this since about 5-6 years i can tell you from first hand experience that we do minister to the families, too. And that for many inmates their jail time is the first time in their life where they begin to draw closer to God and questions about the deeper things of life rise up in them. Many  are very open to the Gospel and have a genuine change of heart.

I thank God for the many volunteers who take the command of Jesus to heart and go visit those in prison. Even with the death penalty it still makes a difference in someone's life whether they face the electric chair or lethal injection with the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life or without that. And only God is their judge and He goes by the intentions of the heart and not by denominational affiliation.

The same, by the way, goes for the shut-ins at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I have yet to see an orthodox church who sends volunteers out to those, but in our area I know of several facilities who get ministered to every week by volunteers from different area churches.

And, I have talked to an Orthodox priest who could have had the opportunity to join in there but he let me know that the Orthodox do not mingle with heretics.

Too bad. I'm going to bite my tongue now and let you all think what you want.

Just sharing information, Shiloah

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« Reply #50 on: October 30, 2004, 08:58:22 AM »

"Anything is possible for God, but how are these people going to find God if the Church does not introduce them to Him?  I may very well be uninformed, but I don't think ministry to criminals is high on the Church's current list of priorities, and that is something to be lamented.

You are correct here, sir.  This is embarrassing for us and sickening.

Shiloah,

I understand (and share) your "toungue-biting" feeling -- I really admire your committment to this.  I do wish the Church would do more with this, but myself...I haven't the slightest idea what I would have to say to an inmate, aside from the Gospel message.  Even then, I'm not sure why they'd listen to me (I'm probably about as far away from the mindset a hardened criminal must have)...what do you all talk about them with?
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« Reply #51 on: October 30, 2004, 10:26:56 AM »

This issue clearly touches a lot folk's feelings, some deeply.

Some appeal to the Old Testament. Fine, so if your children strike shall we take them to walls of the city and stone them to death? What if you are found committing adultery? Or bestiality, which some say is not so unheard as one would like to think? And the list might go on.

Other talk about killing. The commandment forbids 'murder'. Execution by a civil authority is just that, execution, but not murder. I may not find it appealing but there is a clear difference. Soldiers may kill and any number of saints in both the Old and New covenant eras have lead or participated in action which result in death. This too is not murder, it is an act of war.  Again I might not find it appealing but there is a clear difference.

What I feel may get in the way here is our feelings, emotions and sentiments. The rule of law and the restraint of evil doers in any society cannot be a matter simply for our individual feelings or sentiment. I have met, as will others, some so alienated, brutal and lacking in any thought for others that they would run rings around any society run by such sentiments. The paradox is that if a civil society stoops itself to such a level it does not ameliorate the problem but breeds a further generation of such people.

Somewhere on the way a balance between the need for restraint and the provision of opportunities for remorse, to forgive and to acquire the personal and other skills necessary for a blameless and profitable life need to be found.

For a Christian, these things must be especially important. In our self righteousness we protest, 'I'm not a murderer'! But how many times do we not asassinate the good name and reputation of those around us? Often repeatedly! The consequences of such unneighbourly conduct has on occasion after occasion reared dreadul results, even the ruin and death of those defamed. But we are not murderers?

As Christians are we not called to weep first over our sins? Have we forgotten the saints who were robbers, brigands, and the like and repented? In Greece I met an old priest who fell into disfavour because he published a journal upholding traditional values. He got moved to a backwater in the north Athens suburbs. He stipend was slashed. He went into the prisons, travelling with the little money he had. Who did he find ministering there? Not his priestly colleagues who were not so disfavoured. No, they had more important things to do. We can 'tut tut', but do we visit or comfort those in prison, again as we are taught? Do we help those who have fallen on hard times or despair?

No, we become armchair Christians, with opinions on anything and everything. Or perhaps as has been previously used, Apopletic Christians or sentimentalists with enumerable causes, confusing actitivity with action.

Forgive me, I do not write out of anger or wanting to dispute. Rather it concerns me that in wanting to set the world aright we may be distracting ourselves from the one thing needful, our salvation.
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« Reply #52 on: October 30, 2004, 11:29:44 AM »

You are indeed uninformed here, Mor. There is ministry in just about every correctional facility in the nation, but not by the Orthodox Church. There is only one Orthodox Prison Ministry out there that I know of, and that is the Antiochian Orthodox Priosn Ministry of Father Ogan http://www.antiochian.org/OCPM/ and they have great materials and do a wonderful job, but compared to all of the USA they are a tiny fraction of the overall prison ministries.

When I said "I don't think ministry to criminals is high on the Church's current list of priorities", it was the Orthodox Church I had in mind.  I am aware of the admirable prison ministry undertaken by Catholics and Protestants.  Unfortunately, as you say, it is only a blip on the Church's radar screen, at least in America.  But I am happy to learn of some of your positive experiences in this field.
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« Reply #53 on: October 30, 2004, 12:29:06 PM »

Maybe the prison ministry should be a new topic, it surprises me that the Orthodox would lack in this since it would provide a source for evangelism & converts.

Also, it is part of the daily intercessorary/for the living prayers, well at least in mine.

james
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« Reply #54 on: October 30, 2004, 04:09:43 PM »

I am aware of the admirable prison ministry undertaken by Catholics and Protestants.  Unfortunately, as you say, it is only a blip on the Church's radar screen, at least in America.  

Mor, I really want to point out again, that compared to the overall nationwide prison ministries by the non-orthodox churches, it is the Antioch Orthodox prison ministry that is "only a blip on" the churches radar screen in America.  It seemed like my original words got kind of twisted the way you made reference to them.

It would be wonderful if the Orthodox Church would join the ranks of our nation's prison outreaches. But the local parishes usually won't. They will have their reasons. Meanwhile other folks with a heart of compassion will take the Gospel to where it is most needed.

GPhadraig, I agree with your words and I commend you for speaking your peace.

There are many church houses all across America, and I am thankful for each and every Orthodox parish in this nation. Yet, the majority of them fall under the category to which 2.Tim.3:5 applies (and you are welcome to read the previous verses of the context for yourself) . They are " Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

I would love to hear of the Orthodox Chcurches where the commissioning words of Christ
have come true that "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
 18.  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
 19.  So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
 20.  And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

No need to get hung up now on the 'speaking with new tongues. I am not concerned about that. What people need is the healings and the deliverances and just to see that the Lord is indeed confirming the word with signs following.  Does anybody on this forum have this happening in their parish? Please share with us, and thank you kindly,
Shiloah
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« Reply #55 on: October 30, 2004, 04:33:06 PM »

Maybe the prison ministry should be a new topic, it surprises me that the Orthodox would lack in this since it would provide a source for evangelism & converts.

Also, it is part of the daily intercessorary/for the living prayers, well at least in mine.

james

Yes, James, it is very comforting for me to know that the Church has the prayer for the incarcerated in her daily intercessorary.

As for your thoughts about this particular lack in the OC, I think we touched on that before in some other threads talking about "evangelism" which was a very offending subject to some. My personal experience with prison ministry volunteer applicants is that unless they come for the right reasons they do not last long, sometimes only once or twice. The right reason being a love for the needy and a love for the Lord, instilled in your heart by the Holy Spirit, because it is He who is sending you there.  

The Antiochian Prison Ministry has a very good book out on the subject. It is called "Prison Ministry Training Guide" by Father Duane Pderson, published by Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, PO Box 1949, Hollywood, CA 90078-1949 or through Fr.David Ogan, PO Box 822169 Vicksburg,MS 39182


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« Reply #56 on: October 30, 2004, 04:53:10 PM »

I do wish the Church would do more with this, but myself...I haven't the slightest idea what I would have to say to an inmate, aside from the Gospel message.  Even then, I'm not sure why they'd listen to me (I'm probably about as far away from the mindset a hardened criminal must have)...what do you all talk about them with?

Pedro, here are a few answers to your questions:
a) you would not go into a jail to minister without preparation and training.
b) there are always some inmates ready to listen. The Lord prepares their hearts.
c) as for "the mindset of a hardened criminal" as you put it: each criminal is a human being. They look like humans, they have been created by the Creator of the universe, they have a human heart. Sometimes they do not act like humans should. That's when something not human has taken over.

Many criminals have a mind set like you and I. They are sinners. Their sin has alienated them from God. They need (and long for) restoration and the healing of their soul. They look for acceptance and love. They need compassion and direction into the Truth. As do we all. Many have never heard about Jesus. Many have been branded by 'church folk' and thrown out the baby with the bath water. Many have fallen for the snares of the evil one. Some have willfully and knowingly made wrong decisions. But so have we, too, now and then.

Jesus died for them. He said that the healthy don't need the doctor but the sick do. It is up to us who are alive today, this very day, whether we want to receive the ministry He has given us in 2.Cor.5:18 or whether we refuse it. You're either for Him or against Him. If you're for him then you will show Him by passing on and sharing His love.

You will be held accountable for what you did with the knowledge of Christ in this world.

Shiloah

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« Reply #57 on: October 31, 2004, 11:27:00 AM »

An offering:

From The Proglogue from Ochrid, by the Ever-memorable Bishop Niklai Velimirovic

Taken from the readings given for first, today 18/31 October


FOR CONSIDERATION

Can a sinner, in the space of ten days, make full repentance of his sin? By the immeasurable grace of God, he can. In the time of the Emperor Maurice, there was a well-known bandit in the region around Constantinople. Both in the countryside and in the capital itself, he inspired fear and trembling. Then the Emporer himself sent him a Cross, as a pledge that he would not punish him if he gave himself up. The bandit took the Cross, and did indeed give himslef up. Arriving in Constantinople, he fell at the Emporer's feet and begged his foregiveness. The Emporer kept his word, had mercy on him and let him go free. Immediately after that, the bandit feel gravely ill and sensed that death was near. He began to repent bitterly of all his sins, and implored God with tears to forgive him as the Emporer had. He shed many tears in his prayer, so that the handkerchief with which he wiped them became soaked, and he died after ten days of prayerful weeping. The night of his death, the doctor who had been attending him had a strange vision in a dream: when the bandit on the bed breathed his last, a number of little black demons gathered around him, flourishing bits of paper of which his sins were written, and two glorious angels also appeared. A pair of scales was placed in the middle, and the little black demons gleefully put all the bits of paper on it, and their side of the scales was loaded while the other was empty. 'What can we put in?', the angels asked each other. 'Let's look for something good in his life.' Then there appeared in the hand of one of the angels the handkerchief soaked with tears of repentance. The agels quickly placed it on their side of the scales, and it at once outweighed the other with all its papers. Then the little black demons fled, howling in anguish, but the angels took the man's soul and carried it to Paradise, glorifying God's love for mankind.

And, second, from the readings for the 15/28 December

FOR CONSIDERATION

For unintentional murder, earthly law frees the murderer. The Church lay penance on the unintentional muderer, a penance much lighter than that for a wilful murderer, but does not leave him without a penance. If a priest kills unintentionally, for instance, the Church forbids him to serve as a priest for the rest of his life. Christians with sensitive souls and sharpened consciences take on themselves a harsher penance than the Church lays down. St Pardus, as a waggoner, once arrived in Jericho. Leaving his ass in front of an inn, he went in. At that moment, a child feel in front of the ass, and the animal tampled on it and killed it. When Pardus saw the dead and trampled child, killed by his ass, his heart was so burdened that he felt as though he were himself guilty of the child's death. This conscience-stricken man laid on himself the harshest penance: he abandoned his trade, forsook the world although he was very young, and went off into the arid desert for strict bodily asceticism and spiritual toil and repentance. With many tears, he offered God his repentance for the murder of the child, and prayed to God that He would somehow bring this about. He searched out a lion, but the lion fled from him. He lay in the narrow track that the lion had taken, hoping the beast would kill him, but the lion leapt over him and would not touch him. Seeing, therefore, that it was God's will that he live and not perish, he calmed down, but remained to his death a lowly penitent. Is this not a sensitive, loving and God-fearing soul? Is not this the refined and sharpened conscience of a true Christian?


I would just like to add, truly the responsibility of the Civil power to restrain evil doers is one thing and the task of the Christian another
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« Reply #58 on: November 09, 2004, 01:52:17 PM »

At the moment of conception it is a human being just look at the court cases, that there is a double standard that a women can choose to terminate her pregnancy because it is her body Roe vs. Wade 1972 and it is considered an fetus not a baby so therefore it is not murder but at the same time if someone terminates the pregnancy without the women’s consent example in an accident an unborn child dies it is considered manslaughter or if she is murdered and the unborn child dies then it is a double homicide or someone that punches her in the abdomen and cause the death of the unborn child then it is considered Manslaughter of the unborn child. So ladies which is it murder of choice!

I have another recent article here is the link http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2431343 this guy was charged with a double homicide.

We went from one extreme before 1972 to another extreme after Roe vs. Wade and still no middle ground on when an abortion should be medically necessary which should be the point, but in the very near future I predict we will go to another extreme a total ban on abortion again when enough people are in prison for murder or manslaughter of an unborn child then the government and pro life will have the opportunity to state the facts that people are in prison for murder and therefore the courts have considered that an unborn child is not a fetus but indeed a human being with all the civil rights as you or me have, and when that is proven which it will be then more than likely Doctors will be charged with murder and the women that receive the abortion will be charged with accessory to murder, I think it is a good time for pro choice and pro life to get together and find a middle ground for when it is medically necessary far ANY ABORTION before it is to late and we go back to another extreme again.

All I ask is to read up on these cases and you will see where this is going use your common sense.

Sincerely
Scott

P.S I ‘m pro life and believe that there is a middle ground but if we can’t find one then I will go with the extreme no abortion at all because I have no other choices given to me to stop senseless killing of human beings.
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« Reply #59 on: November 17, 2004, 12:43:31 AM »

I'm with Demetri, Crucifier!  Your adherence to your principles is inspiring.  Thanks.

Bob
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Religion is a disease, and Orthodoxy is its cure.
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