The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Rehabilitation, retribution, the death penalty, & justice

I’ve written a distillation of my thoughts on the interplay of retribution, rehabilitation, & justice, which influences what I believe will ultimately happen to everyone:

How can you act like the death penalty is bad if God executed it in the OT?

Do you mean that it is RECORDED in the OT that God executed it? Did He really command the death penalty? Or was that the ancient Israelite’s understanding?

Jesus said that God was KIND to both ungrateful and evil people (Luke 6:35). How come Jesus didn’t ever suggest the death penalty? He was Another exactly like the Father—“the exact imprint of God’s essence” (Heb 1:3). Rather than condemn the woman taken in adultery as the Pharisees wanted to do, He said He did not condemn her. He just told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11).

Can you give me an example in the OT that is commonly seen as God commanding the death penalty but is not?

If a man molests an 11 month baby and murders it in the process, is that not worthy of the death penalty?

As a Christian, I was opposed to the death penalty. As an Agnostic, I say “good riddance” of people who clearly have no right to their life after they destroy another’s. Even now, if I were to become a Christian again, I’d still say good riddance. In fact, I see no redeeming value in mercy when it comes to the death penalty. You had your chance! If you repented, God will know it. That said, I do oppose torture, but not a swift execution. I think people who oppose the death penalty are soft. Many soft people are able to live the way they are because hard people are taking care of business for them.

Additionally, look at this a different way. What is more humane, taking the life of someone, or keeping them locked in a CAGE for the rest of their life? I think the latter is torture, while the former is punishment and freedom from a life wasted. You can reform your ways in the next life! Well, that is what I say.

Well… I oppose the death penalty and I don’t think I’m soft. My experience seems to have been the exact opposite to yours. As a Christian I favoured the death penalty for murder. Even as a candidate for a political party in Canada I believed in it and said so in my campaign literature. But now I oppose it.

My eyes were opened—especially after reading Howard Zehr’s book “Changing Lenses.” Yes, it takes a complete revolution of thought to see that it is not retributive “justice” that the world needs but restorative justice.

You can get a little understanding of restorative justice by reading this “Little Book of Restorative Justice,” at the following link:

1 Like

I started reading that book and look forward to finishing it as I liked it. I’ve also started reading (I’d recommend it too):

I have a clear understanding of what it is. It is projecting a fantasy world onto reality. With crimes that result in the death of another person (not accidental, of course) you must put an end to them, or lock them up until they die, but I’d argue that is less humane. If there are other parties liable, them instead, perhaps. Let the law decide who is guilty after all the evidence is in. But if someone is guilty of murder, you can never again trust that person to society as you cannot know their inner most thoughts on whether they have been transformed or not. God might be able to read the hearts of others, but we cannot. Therefore, to release someone who has killed is actually a perversion of justice, as you are gambling the lives of innocents because of your wishful idea that some guy like Ted Bundy reformed himself. That isn’t a risk anyone is going to take, except for those living in a fantasy world.

If you want to talk about restorative justice, apply to something that doesn’t have such dire consequences to the innocent. Theft, Battery, Bullying, etc… Yeah, still severe, but worth the risk of restoring such a one. Not so with murder and possibly rape.

If your argument is to lock such a one up until they die, I ask - How is that humane at all? The most humane thing to do is put such a one out of their misery.

How about Karla Fae Tucker, who found her man friend in bed with a woman and brutally killed both of them with a pickaxe—a most grisly murder? After she became a disciple of Christ, she underwent a total change of character and personality. Yet, she was executed for her crimes in Texas—the first woman to be executed in that state.

If you haven’t looked into her case, I suggest you consider it here:

About Karla Fae Tucker

Please watch and listen to Karla Fae herself after her arrest and prior to her execution:
Watch and hear Karla Fae Tucker

You can watch Part 1 of the movie about Karla Fae, called “Forevermore”

Here’s the first of 13 interviews with the real Karla Fae Tucker:

She was executed as she should have been. If she repented, she is in Glory now. Why is that so hard to understand? You can cherry pick cases all you want, but unless you can read minds, you have no way of knowing who will re-offend or not. I’ll ask, can you, or others read minds? Can we see into the heart of others while they are behind bars? Can we truly know if someone is faking good behavior to get out of prison to repeat their crimes (perhaps get better than them and find ways to evade punishment further). Most rational people would say that “No, we cannot know” and so when it comes to murder you are perverting justice by letting such a person back into society. You have gone too soft.

Jesus said:

"… I tell you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. (Luke 6:27-29)

Was Jesus too soft? You’d never guess it if you had heard the way He talked to the :Pharisees.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Was Paul just an old softie? You’d never guess it, knowing how he administered capital punishment to as many Christians as possible prior to Jesus appearing to him—an event that resulted in his conversion and a complete change of heart and mind.

Should Paul have been put to death for murder? If he had been, what would have been the ramifications for the whole Christian faith?

Or do you consider my bringing up Paul’s case just one more example of “cherry picking”?

Question #1 - No, he was not, at least according to what we think we know of him. But, once again, you are conflating personal vendetta’s with government law and justice. It is easy to see why we are not to seek vengeance… We are hardly an unbiased party, unable to see the big picture as we are both personally and emotional vested in it when we are the victim. Jesus is clearly talking about vigilantism and vengeance, not government law and order.

Question #2 - No, but for the same reason above. You are smart person Paidion, I think you are playing dumb conflating personal vendetta’s and government justice.

Question #3 - Yes, he should have, if the government found him guilty, or least imprisoned for life.

Question #4 - Well, if your God is strong, as you say he is, there would be no ramifications as someone else would have been called to take his place.

Question #5 - Yes, you are clearly cherry picking as you are conflating two very different issues - Personal Revenge/Vigilantism with Government Sanctioned Justice.

I will just say that Paul was guilty, by his own admission, of putting many Christians to death, and as a Christian, he deeply regretted it. You say, “If the government found him guilty…” Clearly his government, a Jewish government would have approved of his murders. But does that make it morally right? Governments all over the world have killed those they hated. Hitler administered “capital punishment” to 6 million Jews. So how are personal vendettas immoral, whereas government vendettas are okay? Or does “might make right” as the saying goes?