For the wages of sin is death,but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans chapter 6, verse 23
Having the power over the life and death is something reserved for very few. In there are very few circumstances in which taking the life of another is considered acceptable unless to save the life of another.
Yet there are certain circumstances where governments take the lives of its citizens—such as with capital punishment.
Capital punishment is often considered a stalwart of conservatives, especially Christians in the USA.
However, in a remarkable change of perspectives one of the most conservative states in the USA, Nebraska, voted to abolish the death penalty.
There are clear reasons the abolition had bipartisan support. One reason the abolition was successful was an important change in perspective. It received bipartisan support in part because conservatives realised the death penalty is incompatible to the pro-life movement.
The value of life
If you value an unborn life, then you should value the life of the adult they may become. We are all special and made in the image of God (Genesis chapter 1, verses 26–27), killing someone is rejecting this image.
More broadly there are more important reasons that Christians of all walks and persuasions should oppose the death penalty.
Christians of all persuasions have reason to fight against capital punishment. In many ways, the death sentence is against what Christians stand for.
The desire for salvation
Christians should desire to see others saved. The salvation of all was, and is, the principal purpose of the life and death of Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear that all sin is deserving of death, but the sacrifice of Jesus means we do not have to suffer this death (Romans chapter 6, verse 23).
When we subject others to death we remove not only their life, but their potential to be saved. Death removes the opportunity to repent or receive Christ in their life—rejecting this most precious gift.
Only God can judge
James chapter 4, verse 12'There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?'
Ultimately the act of killing another is an act of rejection of this gift and an act of hypocrisy.
Only God can judge, and only He can be truly righteous.
Christianity is a story of life, mercy and grace above all else—not one of condemnation and death.
This should extend to every aspect of our lives and government including in war. Wherever there is the threat of death we should fight to preserve it—so that all have the greatest opportunity to be saved.
Nathanael Yates is a neuroscience researcher from Perth, Western Australia
Nathanael Yates' previous articles may be viewed atwww.pressserviceinternational.org/nathanael-yates.html