Why Take Seriously the Death Penalty and the Cross of Christ?

More or less, 95% of Filipinos have certain knowledge of Jesus Christ. As a predominantly Roman Catholic nation, it is labeled as a Christian state in Asia.

However, with the prevailing reputation of corruption and narco-politics, the debate to re-impose death penalty is surging, while the efficacy of the Christian religion is seemingly questionable.

With the appalling systemic evil in this culture of corruption and if ever death penalty shall be re-imposed, what would be its implications to the Christian faith of the Filipinos?

As a Christian theologian, it is a challenge to correlate our faith with reality. The death penalty could be re-imposed or not, but both are always possibilities.

So why take a close look at the death penalty in view of the cross of Christ? Here’s why.

1. Refresh Your History.

While most believing Christians look at the cross from a “spiritual” point of view, such “God-event” could have not happened “in history” without the existence of death penalty.The Roman government, like their ancient predecessors, practiced

The Roman government, like their ancient predecessors, practiced the death penalty. With its existing laws, all the accused have to go through a due process. If the accused is found guilty of a heinous crime, one means of extreme punishment is the crucifixion.Historically, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ happened because of

Historically, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ happened because of the death penalty. And the Romans are experts in putting it on display to deter anyone from doing atrocities.

2. Reconsider Its Implications.

Since Jewish people have their own set of religious laws, there were actual possibilities they could have had imposed it. After all, the death penalty is evidently clear in the Hebrew Scriptures. But they would be in trouble with the Roman government if they impose it.

(Are you aware that in the Dark Ages, the Inquisition of the church also applied a death penalty to “heretics”? Protestant history attests that much of them were innocent too.)

The truth is, death penalty—even without it—has pros and cons. In the Gospels, religious-but-vindictive leaders blood-lusted after an innocent man, Jesus. They plotted seamlessly and successfully exploited the existing laws to their advantage. The rest is history.

Herein is a classic example that a death penalty is a serious place for irrevocable error. A major mistake could lead an innocent man to death. What if a poor man cannot afford to get a cunning lawyer to get away with the law?

How much more if such law of death is used for retribution? Could it lead to endless cycles of violence? Just look at the vicious cycles of rido or laws of revenge on certain tribes in the Philippines.

If the law of eye-for-an-eye would strictly be implemented, would it lead all of us to blindness

3. Refocus on the Cross of Christ.

In times like these, it is very helpful to revisit the cross of Christ. The death of Christ on the cross might be considered a historical “error” but in God’s perfect plan, it is not. The death penalty may have opened the door for Christ to be crucified, but underneath that ultimate sacrifice of an innocent being is the demonstration of God’s love to humanity.

The death penalty may have opened the door for Christ to be crucified, but underneath that ultimate sacrifice of an innocent being is the demonstration of God’s love to humanity.

The problem of the death penalty is directly related to the sinful state of man. Although all people are not criminals, in view of His divine laws, humans are all sinful trespassers, as such, enemies of God.

While the death penalty is the ultimate price for heinous crimes, death is also the final punishment for sin against God’s absolute laws. As it says, “For the wages of sin is death.”

Where there is sin, there is spiritual death. But while it is also true that without the death penalty, Christ could have not been crucified, likewise, without the absolute law of God there is no death on the cross. In short, Jesus died for our sins.

While certainly, the death of Christ could not be the basis for deciding the legitimacy of re-imposing the death penalty, it is only right that we also take a close look how such reality brought the unexpected demonstration of God’s perfect plan in humanity’s imperfect justice system.

Glenn Plastina © 2017

 

 

 

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