A Scriptural Death Penalty Case

Consider the following death penalty case: the adulterous woman (Jn. 8:1-11). Would you have wanted Jesus to kill her? It would’ve been justice, because He could’ve killed her, but it wouldn’t have been mercy. He chose to be merciful, and in doing so gave that soul time, and possibility to arriving at repentance, and holiness, if she wished to reach them. He led by example the following teaching: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). Merciful to whom? He made no distinction between sinners.

Therefore, no matter the situation in a death penalty case, do you say mankind should or shouldn’t follow Jesus’s example of mercy?

Adultery is not a capital punishment in most Christian nations.
The capital punishment is not just justice, though it may be primarily so, but also about defense of the society and community (among other things). Adultery may break social trust but it is not as dangerous as (say) murder.

Of course His Holiness Pope Francis has followed Pope John Paul II in being against capital punishment, and generally without an exception clause, so I will gladly follow suit with his prudential judgment that it doesn’t fit in today’s world. In a society where you’re just some people with some tents and you find out some dude just murdered five people in cold blood or is planning treason, or is endangering society in some other way, then it can make sense.

The Bible does indicate shedding our fellow man’s blood is bad, even legitimately. Cain was given a mark for his protection (!) after killing his own brother (perhaps they didn’t fully understand their actions since this looks to be the first murder ever). King David was not fit to have the Temple built under his rule because he had shed too much blood, even though it was through presumably legitimate warfare.

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). Merciful to whom? Jesus made no distinction between sinners.Therefore, no matter the situation in a death penalty case, do you say mankind should or shouldn’t follow Jesus’s example of charity?

We should be merciful. People who want the death penalty (I don’t!) believe that it is utterly merciful to give a sinner a literal deadline for repentance, which move those motivated even by merely personal gain (seemingly like the prodigal son) to repentance and eventually reconciliation. Ultimately salvation of souls is better than salvation of flesh for 20 or 40 more years, though hopefully they repent as well.

Of course we should imitate Jesus’ example.

I note I’m anti-capital punishment, so of course I’m going to say that.

To play devil’s advocate a bit, in fairness to the other side:

  • Executing someone for adultery is very disproportionate to the “crime”.

  • Executing just the woman and not the man involved seems grossly unfair, as she did not commit adultery all by herself.

  • Executing anyone by stoning is a cruel way to do it.

  • We don’t have enough information to know if this woman voluntarily committed adultery or was there something else going on. She could have been a victim of rape. She could have been a victim of domestic abuse by her husband and sought safety with another man. She could have been framed for alleged adultery by a husband or MIL who wanted to be rid of her. Jesus would have known exactly what transpired as he had divine insight.

In general, a woman in this situation was in a very weak position. It’s not quite the same as a strong man who willfully killed several people and may have continued to pose a danger to the community because he could not be reliably contained.

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Well, I don’t know about cruel…I’d think one good shot can kill you, and the way it’s set up is kinda like random firing squads where one person doesn’t feel the weight of shed blood. It was certainly more merciful than a prolonged crucifixion!
(though I am no expert).

Funny that you bring up that passage of the Bible to counter the argument of death penalty. As the other poster alluded the reason behind capital punishment requires some really grave matter as well as the protection of society at large. Perhaps now days it is less of a necessity to impose it on criminals but this is largely in the Judeo-Christian world.
Check what is going on in communist countries where the capital punishment is not a rarity.
And lest not forget Islam. There an adulterous woman is still condemned to death. With many cases documented.

Peace!

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That’s not saying much for it, considering how awful crucifixion was.

I would think the most humane method back then would be the skillful severing of the head used on Roman citizens like St Paul. Or perhaps some form of poison that painlessly put one to sleep.

Wise answer.

Wise answer.

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). Merciful to whom? Jesus made no distinction between sinners. Therefore, no matter the situation in a death penalty case, we should follow Jesus’s example of charity.

Again, I personally don’t disagree with you. However the Catechism current position on death penalty is based in part on the fact that our society currently has ample resources and mechanisms to keep dangerous offenders securely locked up and unable to cause further harm to others. CCC 2267 specifically mentions that we now have “more effective systems of detention”. If this were not the case (for instance, in a wartime situation or one where an entire area has been obliterated so no suitable prison exists, or even in past centuries when detention systems weren’t as effective ), the Church recognizes that capital punishment may be necessary for the protection of others.

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“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). Merciful to whom? Jesus made no distinction between sinners. Therefore, why should we?

Why are you posting like a broken record? Read what I wrote, if you are actually a human posting rather than a bot. Good evening.

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You didn’t address why we should choose whom we show mercy to, thus I repeated myself. I didn’t ask you if the death penalty is permitted according to the Catechism.

Ahh but you are taking one instance of Jesus’s actions and try to make a blanket statement to all situations. Which is not fair I would point out.
Yes Jesus is GOD and knows very well each and everyone of us more intimately than ourselves.
Now you are trying to make appear like taking someone’s life is unlawful no matter what. And THAT is NOT true. The Catechism clearly spells out when it can be lawful to take another man’s life. And such a case it is not a sin.
End of paragraph.

Peace!

I never said the death penalty is unlawful no matter what. Again, in the case of the adulterous woman, for example, Jesus could’ve killed her, and it would’ve been justice, but it wouldn’t have been mercy. He chose to be merciful, and in doing so gave that soul time, and possibility to arriving at repentance, and holiness, if she wished to reach them. He led by example the following teaching: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). Merciful to whom? He made no distinction between sinners. Therefore, why should we?

Well, I really would like an expert to confirm how stonings go, I would think if you don’t die you’d probably get knocked unconscious rather quickly, but I suppose the size of the stones and the strength of the throwers matters there.
There are two considerations:

  1. The executioner(s)
  2. The executed
    In the middle ages I think they had the executioners’ faces covered to drive home that it wasn’t the individual but the state doing the deed. Stonings here have a unique benefit among ancient methods in that there is a large group of people doing it, like I said like firing squads.

Though I will note I don’t like how morbid I sound in this conversation!

You’re making a bit of a strawman argument here. Death penalty Catholics intend to show mercy through the death penalty, as we all know focusing on the fact of death and impeding Judgment puts even the selfish on the straight and narrow.
It’s not a question of if we should show mercy, it is how.

Now, I agree in being against the death penalty. We can try to rehabilitate them while they serve in prison. But, trying to frame the question in the way you’re trying to is not addressing the actual position of pro-capital punishments Catholics.

(I hate to do this, but in case you make this mistake at work or on a test or something, I want to warn you that it is “to whom” and not “to who.” Whom is used in prepositional phrases like “to whom” or “for whom,” etc.)

I fail to see how I’m creating a strawman argument when I asked a rhetorical question.

What reason(s) do you have for being against the death penalty? Do you consider the death penalty not merciful?

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