In our modern society some nations have outlawed the death penalty altogether, yet others still cling to it.
For those that still apply the death penalty, it is mostly reserved for people who have premeditatedly killed another human being; with actual intent.
The Lord our God gave a definition of a willful murder that qualifies for the death penalty. In the first instance, the Lord forbade the killing of another being. His sixth commandment simply reads; “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13).
This simple commandment is the cause why religious advocates against the death penalty may sometimes argue that it is in itself a sin to sentence a convicted murderer to death. It carries the aspect of killing another being despite the crime.
They may claim that the death sentence itself goes against the sixth commandment. However, God gave an exception in which the death sentence should be applied in the case of a murder.
In Genesis 9:6, God spoke to Noah and his sons; “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image”. He is thus giving His authority for a murderer to be put to death by his own, man. In simple terms; He has okayed man to kill the human being who has shed the blood of another. He further expanded on the matter to give the distinctions that should be regarded before the pronunciation of any death sentence.
In Exodus 21:12-17, He spoke, “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lay in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him treacherously, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.”
There should be a clear distinction of what qualifies for the death penalty and what does not. Clearly there are times when someone has no intention of killing another, but a situation of some kind then arises that results in a human death.
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This is what God refers to when He says, “God let him fall into his hand”. This means that the resultant death of the victim was not the scheme of the man who caused it, but rather it happened because it was the will of God.
In other words, it means that God made the death to happen for whatever purpose of His.
Having caused the death of another unintentionally may in itself generate some anger within the victim’s family who may want to seek retribution for their relative’s death.
They may want to avenge for the death. God actually says we should give protection to such person, by giving them places of refuge to safeguard them from any retaliations.
The Zimbabwean law in its current form is moulded around the perimeters of God’s guidelines, which some people may deem to be outdated.
Under Zimbabwean law, murder is defined as the intentional and unlawful killing of another person. It normally carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction.
There has been a moratorium on the death penalty for the past 18 years even for gruesome killings and for serial murderers.
There is a lesser charge for the killing of someone which is termed as culpable homicide. It is defined as the killing of another person through negligence or recklessness, without the intention to cause death. The penalty for culpable homicide can range from a fine to imprisonment for up to 20 years.
God does not speak about abortion but by the religious definition of life, it begins the moment a woman conceives. Any pregnancy carries a life as a multiplication process created by our Creator. Every embryo has a life in it. The killing of a newborn baby by its mother is termed as infanticide. Abortion can also be classified as infanticide in the religious sense.
In other countries like the United States, murder has three major classifications. The most serious type of murder charge is for premeditated murder or intentional killings. This is classified as first-degree murder.
This may also include killings that occur as a result of torture or during the commission of certain felonies such as robbery, burglary, or kidnapping.
Second-degree murder is a lesser charge that applies to intentional killing that were not premeditated, as well as killings that occur during the commission of a crime that is not on the list of felonies that trigger a first-degree murder charge.
Third-degree murder is a much lesser charge for unintentional killings that occur during the commission of certain misdemeanors, such as domestic assault or other.
Death penalties may be applied in extreme causes of premeditated killings or serial murders for first-degree category.
My view on this matter is premised on the guidelines given by the Lord our God in Genesis 9:6 which I quoted herein, “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed”.
The rights to life of the victims are given first priority and not the rights of the murderers. If a person meticulously deed to murder someone over a period of time and executes the devilish plan, it means there is a total disregard for human life.
Why then should the life of the diabolic perpetrators be respected ahead of that of the victim if as in most of the cases, there is no remorse from the convicted?
If there is no repentance for the sin, does forgiveness take place? Surely not.
I know some of my Christian peers would claim that we have moved past the era of an eye for an eye, based on some sentiments expressed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Some of us have tended to sometimes misinterpret certain meanings of our scriptures. In Mathew 5:21-22, Jesus spoke “You have heard that it was said to men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother without cause shall be liable to judgements; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”
‘Hell of fire’ means Gehenna, and that’s where evil doers are sent to be scorched to death. Christ thus expands on the death penalty.
- Prosper Tingini is the Scribe of the Children of God Missionary Assembly — God’s messengers. Contact details: Mobile and whatsapp: 0771 260 195. Email address: [email protected]