Capital Punishment. Why I've Changed My Mind
I don't think our justice system, with all its safeguards and procedures that are built into it, is equipped to handle it. The problem isn't with capital punishment .. it's with our system.
And I don't think it can be fixed.
I read an article today about a man out West who'd given up his appeals and said he deserves death, for the murder of a young girl that he killed 22 years ago. Now, I don't argue with the punishment, but I think the man is in his early 40's now, whereas he was in his early 20's when he committed the crime. Therein lies the problem.
We hardly ever execute the same person that committed the crime. Aside from legal technicalities that might have arisen in the original trial, there's nothing in the criminal's life that can be taken into account in modifying the original sentence (as I understand it), once it's pronounced. There's no chance for redemption.
Think about it a minute. Think about God operating on that basis. Your first sin earns you the death sentence. Then along comes John 3, that says you're condemned already without Jesus. Since most of us don't get saved until after we've already committed that first sin, and received the death sentence, redemption for the Christian must necessarily come after the crime, so to speak. I'm glad God made provision for us, for our redemption, but the law makes no such provision.
God can rehabilitate us, but just as the Old Testament Law had the same shortcoming, our laws today cannot rehabilitate us when it comes to capital crimes.
Since we don't have any omniscient humans around, we cannot really know whether such criminals on death row have had genuine conversion experiences. But just last week I saw a man already serving life for a killing .. gang-related .. confess to 27 additional murders in California. He was a broken man. If I've ever seen a man under conviction, it was him, so I have no doubt the Holy Ghost was working on him. I'd seen the show previously and had made an attempt to locate someone to go witness to him .. to no avail (within my knowledge) .. but one thing I know: that wasn't the same man, sitting there, that had killed those people.
I also recall seeing Karla Faye Tucker weep for the others in prison that she'd not be able to reach for Christ, in light of her forthcoming execution. She even moved me to tears, myself.
I know of no humanly-possible way that man could ever assemble a system to discern when people had been "rehabilitated" after committing a capital crime, or a way of assessing whether we were truly executing the same person who had wantonly taken the life of another. I think it's a camel/needle deal: impossible for man to accomplish.
For God? Doable. For man? Not.
In view of what I've seen in the last couple of years, I admit I'm troubled by capital punishment, now. Yes, the Bible says it. So I must defer to the Bible. And maybe it's like the first execution after the Supreme Court lifted the moratorium on capital punishment, in 1976. I woke up in a hotel that morning, hearing that Gary Gilmore had been executed by firing squad, and I recall a profound sense of sorrow. And it surprised me. I finally concluded that, perhaps, that was the proper reaction. Necessary, but sad.
Over the past year or two, all I can say is that it's gotten sadder. And I have to wonder if God has a better way.
If He does, I sure hope He shows me. I don't like uncertainty on something like this....