Abortion and the Death Penalty: Is There Any Consistency to a Pro-Life Position?


English: Total number of executions carried ou...

Number of death penalty executions in the USA since 1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The charge is often leveled that Pro-life Christians are inconsistent in their position on protecting the sanctity of human life. On the one hand, Pro-lifers are quick to pronounce a “fetus” a human life worthy of protection, while, on the other hand, they will pronounce a murderer worthy of death and say that the state should kill him. Is there any consistency to this Pro-life argument? How can one be opposed to killing and for killing at the same time? Is this not a contradiction?

 

Matters of human life (whether the human is in a womb or in a prison cell) are grave matters indeed. Those who are Pro-life should respect all human life. This respect for life, however, does not mean that there is never a time when another human being should be put to death. The Pro-life position is not a position that denies the right to kill. Rather, it denies the right to kill unjustly. Or, to put the matter another way, it denies the right to kill an innocent human being.

 

This statement is no cop out or contradiction. It reflects what used to be common sense wisdom applied to matters of utmost importance. No human being has the right to take an innocent life. Our legal system still reflects this common sense wisdom in two distinct ways. First, there is the presumption of innocence. One can be accused of a crime, but he is to be considered innocent until proven guilty. This is an important presumption because it protects us from hasty revenge. If, for instance, you believe that a person ran over your girlfriend, you are not free to go out on the basis of your belief and kill that person–that would be taking an innocent life. There must first be a trial in which the person is proved guilty of his crime. Then, justice may well demand the death penalty–carried out by appropriate, governing authorities.

 

The second reflection of common sense in our legal structure is the notion of punishing the guilty and protecting the innocent. We have crimes against kidnapping, for example. And we enforce codes in maternity wards and daycare facilities to protect babies from being kidnapped.  These measures reflect the common sense reality that laws and authorities ought to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.

 

With these common sense realities in place, we ought to be able to see that it is not the Pro-life position which lives in a make-believe world of gross contradiction. Rather, it is the Pro-choice position which turns common sense on its head and, literally, asks that we kill the innocent and protect the guilty. The death penalty is reserved for those who have killed and have been proven guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.  They are not innocent. They are guilty.

 

Abortion, on the other hand, targets the most innocent and most helpless form of human life.  What has the child in the womb done to deserve such an early death? How could one possibly argue against the death penalty and for abortion? Before the dreadful Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, courts had consistently held that babies in the womb had inheritance rights of their fathers (if, for instance, the father died before the child was born).  That makes sense.

 

In addition, courts ruled in Union Pacific Railway Co. v. Botsford that women must be examined for pregnancy before being executed  “in order to guard against the taking of the life of an unborn child for the crime of the mother.”  As this post from American Right to Life notes, this ruling makes perfectly good sense. A child should not be punished (by death) for the crimes committed by his mother.

 

Indeed, all of this common sense legal reality has foundation in Scripture.  Moses long ago established this form of justice for the people of Israel. As he wr0te in Deuteronomy 24:16,

 

Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.”

 

So, in my opinion, the Pro-life position is the consistent position. Whoever is proved to have shed man’s blood, then by man his blood shall be shed because he (or she) is no longer innocent, but guilty of murder. Punish the guilty. On the flip side, whoever has done nothing wrong is innocent. Protect the innocent. And who has a better claim to innocence than a baby in the womb?

 

 

A Mind to Sin


When you read 1 Samuel 22, you can’t help but to think to yourself, “How in the world can Saul be so blind?”  Saul, who was appointed king by popular demand of the people so that they could have a king like the rest of the nations around them, confronts the priest Ahimelech about whether he helped David.  Ahimelech answers that he did in fact help David by giving him the sword which belonged to him (Goliath’s sword) and inquiring to the Lord on behalf of David, something that he had done many times before.  In other words, Ahimelech says that he did for David what any priest would have done for David, particularly in light of how faithful David had always been to Saul.

In response to this confession, Saul ordered that Ahimelech and all of his house, along with all the priests at Nob, be killed.  Saul commanded his leaders to kill the priests of the Lord, but they would not.  They could not.  How could they slaughter the priests of the Lord?  Unfortunately, a slimy Doeg—an Edomite—was in the presence of Saul, and he was all too willing to slaughter the innocent priests on Saul’s behalf.  At Saul’s commands, Doeg, the Edomite, killed 85 priests.  Then, he killed their wives and children and their oxen, their donkeys, and their sheep—all at Saul’s command and with his hearty approval.  How could Saul be so murderously blind?

The answer is simple.  Sin was in the heart of Saul.  From the time that Saul heard ladies singing praises to David, he became consumed with removing David’s fame (along with his name) from the face of the earth.  He more and more became consumed with one thought only: Kill David.  So, he moved his armies and his affections from town to town in pursuit of killing David, although David never betrayed Saul and—on three separate occasions—could have killed Saul but did not.

The wages of sin is death.  Sinful thoughts of wishing David’s fame away (to preserve his own) took root in Saul’s heart and became the driving passion of his life.  Murder was all he wanted.  The 85 priests and their families were merely nuisances to Saul along the path of his murderous way.

We find a life lesson through the life of Saul, mostly by way of antithesis.  Saul teaches us how not to live a blessed life.  He teaches us how to move further and further away from God until we end consumed by a particular sin.  In the beginning of Saul’s service as king, he showed some signs of hope.  He prophesied with the prophets of God.  Yet, before long, he took upon himself the task of slaughtering animals for a sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:8) instead of waiting for Samuel, as he was instructed.  And, not too long after his unauthorized sacrifice, Saul also refused to execute God’s commands concerning Agag and the Amalekites.  Saul was supposed to execute justice over the Amalekites and was told to kill Agag and his animals, but he would not.

Ironically, Saul’s life became a pattern of killing those whom he should not kill and giving life to those who did not deserve it.  Between the priests of the Lord and Doeg the Edomite, Saul chose Doeg—a betrayer.  The reason he aligned himself with betrayers instead of with the priests of the Lord is that his mind was given over to sinful thoughts.

Like Saul, perhaps, we think we can allow sinful thoughts to percolate in our minds with no ill effects, but it simply is not so.  The wages of sin (including sinful thoughts) is death.

Saul’s mind—more and more—became tainted because of the sinful lusts in his heart.  As sin took root, disobedience inevitably followed.  As sin and disobedience became the pattern, Saul’s judgment became less and less astute.  Eventually, not only was Saul unable to discern good from evil, but he actually began exchanging evil for good, thinking that slaughtering priests and their children was a good thing.

It would be so easy to slide into a condemnation of Saul, but let us rather learn from him for our own good.  Disobedience begets dullness of mind.  Sinful thinking leads to ungodly thinking, which leads to a lack of moral discernment.  The pattern is plain in Romans 1: God gave them over to a depraved mind. In his example in Romans 1, Paul concludes with the example of people who can longer distinguish male and female (Gender confusion).  In the example of Saul, we see a man who cannot discern rightly between a betrayer and the priests of God.

In an example from our own culture, we will not be able to execute Major Nidal Hassan (the Ft. Hood shooter) or Jared Loughner (the Tucson shooter) without a major uphill battle against political groups and media elites.  Instead of executing him for murder, we celebrate Jack Kevorkian as Dr. Death.  And yet, we tolerate killing innocent babies—53 million of them—as long as we do it before they get completely out of the womb (although in some cases even that has been acceptable to some prominent Americans).

You wonder how we could ever get to the place in which we can’t see that murderers should be executed but babies should live.

Perilous cures after Tucson–Michael A. Walsh – NYPOST.com


“Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) wants to ban speech that “threatens” public officials in the interests of “toning down the rhetoric.” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) wants to reinstate the so-called Fairness Doctrine to regulate talk radio. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) plans to introduce a law banning the carrying of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a “high-profile” government official.”

via Perilous cures after Tucson–Michael A. Walsh – NYPOST.com.

It is astounding how the first instinct of our leaders after a tragic shooting is to pass new laws addressing tangential, political issues.  Wouldn’t it be much better if we all started with making sure Loughner faces justice?  If we upheld justice and accountability, everyone would be better off than if we tried to make political hay from a senseless murder.

For my part, I think, if guilty, Mr. Loughner should be executed.  Carrying out the death penalty would be a good reminder to us all that life is sacred.  (Here is why the Death Penalty is important).

Justice


When murder is committed, the person responsible is a murderer.  Murderers ought to be sentenced to death.  When one takes a life, he gives his own in return to demonstrate that human life is of such a high value that life is the only penalty for life.  Human beings are created in the image of God.  As such, humans are designed to display the glory of God.  When one human being takes it on himself to kill another human being, then he must face justice.  Justice says, when you take a life, you must give your own: Life for life (as  in the adage, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life”).

With that basic idea of justice in mind, read this story.  As you read this story, you will cringe and be repulsed.  You will have no doubt that the murderer must have been out of his mind.  Whether he was or not, he murdered another human being in a manner that demeans human life.  Justice in this case demands he offer his life.  The verdict in this story appears to be unjust.  It was a terrible miscarriage of justice.

For a more thorough treatment of the death penalty, check out this message.

Absent from Mainstream Media


You will not see this story on the mainstream outlets, but it is fantastic.  You will be encouraged. I had forgotten about the work going on at Angola.  I used to read about it back home in Louisiana.  I have an interest in prison ministry and used to do that in Louisiana.  This story concerning the [seemingly genuine] outpouring of the Spirit at Angola will encourage you very much.  The story goes beyond Christian faith, which ought to cause it to get noticed by anyone concerned about human rights or criminal justice.  Christians will notice, no doubt, that it all began with the broken and contrite heart of the warden (and with the exercise of capital punishment).