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Old Testament on Crime

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Capital punishment not forbidden in Ten Commandments

In 1976, when Clinton ran for attorney general, he told conservative Southerners that he advocated capital punishment. When he became governor, in the early 1980s, the lives of certain incarcerated citizens once again lay directly in his hands, but whereas during his first time in office he did not have spiritual guidance, now he had a pastor who could sense that Clinton was troubled.

Clinton asked his Baptist minister, Dr. W. O. Vaught, if it was biblically permissible for him to execute a man, and Vaught told him that the death penalty was not prohibited in the original translation of the Ten Commandments. The final decision would be Clinton's, noted Vaught, but he "must never worry about whether [the death penalty] is forbidden by the Bible, because it isn't."

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 67 , Jul 18, 2007

OpEd: "An eye for an eye" LIMITS punishment, not ALLOWS it

Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation--a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution. Also, we might remember Jesus' explanation that Moses gave these and some other aspects of the Torah to accommodate "the hardness of heart" of his listeners.

The Bible has numerous examples of mercy as an alternative to the prescribed death sentence, as when God permitted the first known murderer, Cain, to live. In another dramatic instance, Jesus forgave a women sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.

It seems logical that all Christians would follow the example of Jesus Christ. In 1999 in St. Louis, the pope described capital punishment as "cruel and unnecessary."

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 82-83 , Sep 26, 2006

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Page last updated: Sep 16, 2016