The Apple Of God's Eye

March 2, 2011

The Death Penalty Versus Euthanasia: One Is Condoned, The Other Condemned

stephenhicks.org

Euthanasia is a hot topic today, and realistically, it is a by-product of 20th century medical success. People who would have died in past times are now kept alive by advanced medical treatments.

Alongside the decision to prolong life, we have come up with  slogans like “the right to die,” “choosing not to suffer,” “death with dignity,” and “doctor-assisted suicide.” These are nothing less than softened expressions which take our mind off what we are really accomplishing! The time-honoured Hippocratic oath upon which the healing medical profession was founded and which in part reads  “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect,” is slowly being discarded in favour of killing people.

What I find highly hypocritical is that the same people who advocate euthanasia will bend over backwards to keep convicted killers alive. Now I know the two issues are separate in people’s minds, as they’ll say one prevents suffering and the other prevents injustice. However, let’s look at the commonality between the two – death at the hand of fellow man.

The Death Penalty Commanded

God, through the Old Testament of the Bible speaks with perfect plainness on the issue of capital punishment: “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Exod. 21:12).

Genesis 9:6 and Leviticus 24:17 also give full authority to those sitting in judgment to execute a murderer. Deuteronomy 19:11-13 commands unsparing punishment for such a killer: “…deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.”

The subject has now been taken up in force by the overwhelmingly anti-death-penalty news media. In the growing national debate, death-penalty advocates are being made to look heartless and uncompassionate.

Let’s ask this fundamental question: Is the God of the Old Testament heartless and uncompassionate? The Bible says that God is a God of love (I John 4:8). So how could a loving God actually command putting someone to death?

Actually, when the death penalty is understood from God’s vantage point, it is one of the greatest acts of love there can be toward society—and the condemned criminal.

At this point, many Christians will argue and say that in the “Christian” era, the death penalty is no longer enforced due to the grace of Jesus Christ doing away with the need to execute criminals. However, that is an error! The one who became Jesus Christ is actually the author of the death penalty in the Old Testament.

John 1:1-3 gives us the prehistory of God, at a time prior to Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him [the Word]; and without him was not any thing made that was made”

The Word became the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And it also says that God “created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9).  There is further proof of this in Colossians 1:12-13, 15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; Hebrews 7; John 1:18; 5:37 and I John 4:12.

So the Word, who became Jesus Christ, was the God of the Old Testament! Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Scriptures also say that “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matthew 26:52). Is there a principle most supposed critics are missing? Do they read the scripture which says: “he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.”

Yes, even the New testament reaffirms the Old Testament authority to execute murderers, as shown in the book of Romans: “Let every soul be subject unto the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God…. For he [a government or court official] is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:1-4; New King James Version).

Correction is the God-given means to prevent crime and other problems. Using strong correction forces change in criminals convicted of lesser offenses and eliminates entirely the threat of those convicted of violent crimes such as murder. If we do not receive correction, we will proceed on a course to our own destruction (Prov. 14:12), instead of a happy, fulfilled life.

Still, the liberal element in our society abhors what God says. They explain away evil deeds through “mitigating circumstances” to justify a softer sentence. Claims of parental abuse, mental instability, racial injustice or genetic and biochemical predisposition to violent behaviour have all been used to acquit clearly guilty individuals. All of it is whining, indulgent nonsense which has led to a permissive society which substitutes indulgence for discipline.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us the importance of swift punishment when it says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

Without swift punishment, any hope of dissuading others from committing similar crimes is lost or greatly diminished. Ezra 7:26 guides us toward speedy response to crime by stating, “And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.”

Immediate punishment has a huge deterrent value. Harshly punishing criminals with retribution so severe that they never want to commit crime again prevents prisons from being filled to overflowing and society from being inundated in violent crime. Why is this so? Because the criminal mind does not respect authority. The only thing such a person respects is equal or stronger force!

Man says he is just trying to be more compassionate and to understand his fellow man. Clearly, not one person on earth understands the human mind better than god who says that our natures are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). And in Romans 6:23 we are told that the “wages of sin is death”—not separation from God—but death, the absence of life.

God does not condone mitigating circumstances, justifications or excuses for crime and lawlessness. The Ten Commandments are clear proof of this, and yes, they are still in effect today. Those who say they have been nailed to the cross clearly do not understand their Bible.  They desire the abolition of law merely to make excuses for which they are given leniency. In God’s eyes, repeated reprieves and appeals to verify guilt should not be necessary for death-row inmates.

I understand that no one wants to put another person to death and that it is human to have a certain degree of pity for someone who is going to die, even if he or she deserves to die. I understand also that human justice will always be flawed to a degree, but we cannot stop the wheels of justice or remove the deterrent value of the death penalty simply because we may make a mistake! To do so is to make a far greater mistake.

Imposing and carrying out the death penalty stops the example of lawlessness in society which can corrupt other human beings into the same wrong ways of violence and murder. It also prevents the murderer from continuing in a downward spiral of ever-deepening rebellion.

Why Does God Command The Death Penalty?

There is a very good reason that god commands the death penalty. First, it allows flawed humans to live in a society which has sound, moral principles and a safe society. Second, human death means nothing to God except a temporary sleep (I Cor. 15:51-55), as He will resurrect these criminals again when Christ is ruling the Earth. Then they will be given a chance to learn and change. (Heb. 6:1-2)

The prophet Daniel wrote: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said, “…the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [judgment]” (John 5:28-29). Acts 24:15 and I Cor. 15  also states “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”

Doesn’t this sound a lot more humane than the pagan teaching of an ever-burning hellfire to which most professing Christians today would condemn the executed murderer? Gladly, this ridiculous doctrine is nowhere found in your Bible!

Euthanasia Not Within God’s Law

rxinspector.com

The Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938 by the Charles F. Potter (a “Reverend” no less). We also have the Hemlock Society, Exit, Voluntary Euthanasia Legalization Society, and the Society for the Right to Die, Inc. The AMA even endorses euthanasia. In the past two decades the cases of Karen Ann Quinlan, Nancy Beth Cruzan and Baby Jane Doe have shown us the power of the courts to rule in favour of euthanasia. We may not bury alive our sick elderly like the Sandwich Islanders do, and we may not leave our aged parents to die on the banks of the Ganges River like children of India do, but it is clear that Americans have found an acceptable, clinical, high-tech, “humane” way of accomplishing the same thing.

The Bible reveals that God created mankind as a special creation. Although we share a physical existence with the animals, man is not an animal. Man is the highest form of life created from the dust of the earth. We are made after the God kind (Genesis 1:26-27). All men are made in the very image and likeness of God. The Hebrew word for image refers to God’s spiritual character. Man’s physical creation (same form and shape as God) was complete at the creation of Adam and Eve. Yet, mankind’s spiritual creation is ongoing according to God’s plan for each individual. It is God’s intention to create His very character in any human being who desires Him to do so. Building godly character requires not only God’s Spirit but also time and experience. These facts are fully explained in Mystery of Ages by Herbert W. Armstrong. Write for your free copy today.

Man’s purpose is to qualify to receive eternal life. We are not immortal beings trapped in physical bodies, as the Greeks believed. We are mortal—subject to eternal death (Genesis 3:19). Every man has only so much time to prove to God his worthiness to be given eternal life.

Life is an incredible gift. Our high purpose, and the time allotted to us by God, makes human life very precious. No man has the right to take any other human life through murder. It is the brutal devastation of a man’s hopes, dreams and plans. Therefore, at Mount Sinai God commanded the Israelites, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13, Jewish Publication Society translation). To take a human life is truly a capital sin. Besides destroying the highest creation of the Eternal God, it is a wicked attempt to thwart the very purpose of Almighty God. God is the giver of all life. Man has no right to take it away.

Provide For The Aged

We are given positive Biblical principles that address the specific situation of old age. We have a Biblical command to care for the aged and not abandon them (Deuteronomy 28:50; Leviticus 19:32; Isaiah 1:23; Matthew 15:3-5; Ephesians 6:2; James 1:27; 1 Timothy 5:4,8). We would do well to remember the words in the Psalmist’s prayer to God: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength faileth” (Psalm 71:9).

Finally, let us remember the difference between “sanctity of life” and “quality of life.” The Bible teaches us that we must live on, even though our “quality of life” may be poor. Human suffering is not be eradicated by death. We are to live with suffering, and learn from it (Romans 5:3-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11). The pro-euthanasia advocates, on the other hand, believe that a life has value and should be prolonged only as long as it has some good “quality” to it. According to them, when the “good life” is gone, it’s time to die.

The Russian poet Dostoyesky remarked: “If God is not, then nothing is morally wrong.” So we kill the unborn (abortion), we kill the new born (infanticide) and we kill the aged (euthanasia). We are pretty well killing with impunity, which is the same as genocide. And no wonder since our doctors and moral ethicists are weaned on evolution theory. We kill our domesticated pets; we kill our humans; no problem, we are all animals anyway, right?

Can God Take Life?

Some accuse God of being hypocritical, since in similar fashion to capital punishment, He commanded Israel to carry out certain wars on His behalf. However, these wars should never be viewed as violent acts of wholesale murder, but as the carrying out of divine will through human instruments. Deuteronomy 7:1-2 shows that God directly commanded Israel to wipe out the pagan peoples of Canaan. These were murderous pagans who killed their own children in sacrifices to false gods.

When God permitted the taking of human life, it was only as His representative according to His will. God used Israel as an instrument of His divine judgment. It simply doesn’t matter what man says, because God is our Creator. Also understand that whenever Israel engaged in war on its own initiative, it suffered massive defeat.

So why is there a difference in how the law is applied between the two covenants of the Bible? Israel was a physical, unconverted nation (though God’s chosen people), who were not given access to God’s Holy Spirit at that time. The true Church of God represents the spiritual nation of Israel. Because of this, there is a difference as to how the law applies today.

The Apostle Paul stated this for Spirit-led Christians: “[F]or the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). From our creation, God intended that man learn not to kill, murder or make war against another nation. God is specifically teaching His Church that our purpose is to save human life, not destroy it. In Christ’s soon-coming Kingdom, murder and war will become a thing of the past (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).

Conclusion

In an address to National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on October 27′, 1992, Dr. Kevorkian stated that “Every disease that shortens life is terminal.” Doctors such as Kevorkian are letting money alter their concepts of their good judgment. Should they really help anybody who wants to die to do so as long as they are paid well for the service? Are doctors not supposed to “help life,” rather than take it?

Three percent of deaths in the Netherlands are directly caused by doctors. Three percent in the U.S. would is equal to about 64,860 killings by doctors, This amounts to more deaths by euthanasia than in drug or alcohol related motor accidents combined. (www.euthanasia.com)

We must also understand the principle of the Sixth Commandment (thou shall not kill) and then fully obey it! Certainly, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are included. God considers all three to be murder. Only His commandment to take the life of killers in society is just and merciful, because it comes from the mind of o loving God who understands best how we interact with each other and what is best for us. But then, some will always argue with God.

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