Scott Tibbs

The death penalty is compassionate justice

By Scott Tibbs, July 19, 2023

I cannot imagine a loving and compassionate God would do away with the death penalty for those who burn their own children to death in sacrifice to demons. A God with love and compassion would want justice for those children - not just in the next life, but with bloodshed in this one. As with Abel, the blood of infants burned to death by their own parents cries out to God from the ground, and He is compassionate enough to hear and listen.

When the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land, God warned His chosen people not to follow the practices of the Canaanites, which included child sacrifice. We see in Leviticus 20:1-5 that the death penalty for this heinous crime against nature was not optional. It is a commandment, and God warns of judgment for those who are "compassionate" and refuse to put the murderers to death. God is holy, so His compassion is rightly directed at victims, not murderers.

This teaching should inform Christians about how to think about the vicious murders of four University of Idaho students. A wicked man broke into an off-campus home and used a knife to brutally slaughter three women and a man in their sleep. This crime reminds me of the crimes of serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, or something you would see in a horror movie. The brutality and heinousness of this crime shocks the conscience, and we rightly grieve four people at the very beginning of their adult lives taken away.

Yes, the death penalty is allegedly more expensive than life in prison. I do not care how much it costs. Executing murderers is a basic function of government, as the Apostle Paul shows us when he said in Romans 13 that the government bears the sword. A dead murderer cannot commit more crimes, in prison or out of prison. Bundy committed more murders after escaping from law enforcement custody, which would not have been possible if he was rotting in the ground where he belonged.

We need to recover a sense of justice, both for the victims and for the murderers. Maybe the perpetrator of this crime will see the weight of his wickedness and turn to Christ. He would not be the first murderer to be redeemed from his sin before his death, and God uses earthly justice to bring repentance to the worst people.

Refusing to execute murderers in defiance of God's clear command does not show we are "enlightened." It shows our culture continues to degenerate as we fall further away from obedience and faith. Executing murderers shows that we love God, by deploying the ultimate punishment for those who kill men and women made in His image.

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