what would Jesus do?

It started with Clint’s post about capital punishment. I’ve always been a proponent of it, glad when Karla Fay Tucker wasn’t pardoned despite her conversion. Surely as a Christian she was more aware than most that her actions demanded a penalty?
I haven’t thought much about the death penalty in the past few years; it hasn’t been in the news as much, I suppose. But in those years I’ve started evaluating everything I do and my reasons for doing it. Are my standards based on Scripture or personal preferance? I’ve also started challenging those who claim a Scriptural basis for something that is clearly not in Scripture (i.e. drinking, dancing, “rock music,” going to movies, certain styles of dress, etc.). So when this issue crossed my mind again, I had to go back and wonder–what would Christ’s position on the death penalty be?
And you know, I really think he wouldn’t be for it. I know it sounds presumptous to say I know what Christ thinks, but here’s what I’m basing it on. In John 8 the Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery, a sin clearly punishable by death. And yet, instead of sticking by the law, he chose mercy.
Also, in Matthew 5, as He’s preaching the sermon on the mount, he says:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

I realize this is written on a personal level, not to government officials. However, it seems to reinforce what I’m thinking, and that is that Christ is much more concerned with building a relationship than He is with extracting justifiable revenge. Now, I’m not suggesting lawlessness by any means. We need laws–they form as the guardian of morality. But maybe, just maybe, were Christ to walk the earth today, He would be interested in restoration, not retribution?
I’m going to study this some more. But until then, what are your thoughts?

~ by wildeyedwonder on February 28, 2006.

4 Responses to “what would Jesus do?”

  1. I agree that He would be concerned with restoration, but even He knows that consequences occur when the law is broken. It was He who told his disciple to pay the tax because it was the right thing to do, and the same would be today. I think He would tell the murderer that even though He didn’t wish them to die, it is the law of the land, and it should be followed.

    Not that we should blindly follow ANY law, but they are there for a reason.

    I’m still for capital punishment, but I’m thinking a lot harder about it now that I’ve heard many sides…

  2. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I can’t even build a valid argument because I don’t know where I stand.

  3. great post. i’ve been thinking and typing for 30 minutes with opposing arguments, but the only concise response I can give is this: it’s admirable to ponder exercising compassion on the criminal. Jesus might.

    But that would probably be an exception to the rule. I think He is much more likely to take the side of the victim and of justice. The victim is His creation, and the criminal just ruined, if not destroyed, their life. Often randomly. Often without regret. I can’t imagine Jesus winking at that!

    Look at Old Testament law…He wrote that! And look at Revelation..that’s His plan for setting everything straight. Not much restoration involved.


    Btw – I’ll post the rest of my musings on my blog.

  4. […] It started here, on Clint’s blog. Next Laura offers some thought provoking comments. In an attempt to respond to Laura, I wound up with more to say than I wanted to post on someone elses blog:) So, for the sake of discussion, here are some scattered statements: […]

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