Troy Davis has just been executed tonight by the state of Georgia for the crime of murdering a Police officer.
From the news, I can see there were people protesting the execution. No doubt, some of those protestors do so on Christian grounds.
I thought it was interesting that the same night Troy Davis was executed, another convict name Lawrence Russell Brewer was also executed. Lawrence Russell Brewer’s sentencing receive less publicity, but his crime was notorious: the car-dragging murder of a Black man. What a gruesome crime.
Tonight, I don’t want to comment so much on the particular of each case but wish to comment more about whether the death penalty in of itself can be opposed on Biblical grounds for those who wish to make a Christian argument against the death penalty for murderers.
The death penalty for murderers is grounded in the Noahic covenant. Genesis 9:6 states,
6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man.
7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply;
[f]Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
This is an everlasting covenant according to Genesis 9:16. In the same way that God will never destroy the earth by water ever again due to the eternal condition of the Noahic Covenant, the requirement of the Noahic covenant for the death penalty stands to this day. The participants of the Noahic Covenant includes everybody and every creature. It is universal in scope and not just for Israel and what have you.
Who should carry out the death penalty on murderers? I don’t think it’s every individual citizens that should practice vigilante justice. The New Testament does speak on this subject, in Romans 13:4. Speaking of the government, Paul writes,
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
The “sword” as an instrument is not only for protection of the magistrate. This passage makes it clear bearing the sword is not just “for nothing.” The agent of the state in pursing justice is a minister of God and brings wrath on those who practices evil using his sword (or whatever modern tools in his disposal).