The government, capital punishment and the Sermon on the Mount
Published: Oct 30, 2013
Bahamas Christian Network CEO Pastor Silbert Mills recently made an interesting observation on his Facebook page when he pointed out that The Bahamas has had 1,000 murders since 2000, yet not one execution during that span. The last convicted murderer to be executed by the state was David Mitchell. He was found guilty of killing two German tourists.
Mitchell was executed on January 6, 2000. That was during the second term of the Hubert Ingraham administration. Despite their worn-out rhetoric, the bloody time frame of 2000 to 2013 is irrefutable proof that anti-death penalty advocates have no feasible solution to putting an end to the bloody carnage in this country. I had an opportunity to dialogue with a minister from Abaco on Facebook who opposes capital punishment. The gentleman alluded to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is considered by many church theologians to be the greatest speech in the history of mankind. The minister is of the view that the message of the Sermon on the Mount presupposes his anti-death penalty position. And he is not alone in his thinking on this divisive matter. The minister and other anti-death penalty advocates have misconstrued the gist of Jesus’ sermon.
The Sermon on the Mount was not given to the government; rather, it was given to the church. Nor was it ever Jesus’ intention for any lawful government to jettison the death penalty when he preached in his sermon that Christians must not kill or to seek personal vengeance. The church and the state are divine institutions created by God and both have different functions. How can any government function properly in its divinely stated role if it follows the guidelines of the Sermon on the Mount? If anti-death penalty advocates are going to remain consistent with their position, then they should argue that the state not only obey the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction against killing, but it should also turn the other cheek when rapists and pedophiles and child pornographers, armed robbers, arsonists, drug and human traffickers, extortionists and other malefactors are hauled before the courts.
If one were to take their argument to its logical extension, then the state should be a good Christian and pardon the aforementioned and release all of the inmates at Her Majesty’s Prisons and shut down all the police stations across The Bahamas. Further, the government should also disband the Royal Bahamas Police Force and all other law enforcement organizations, as there would be no more need for their existence. Such an approach would not only be asinine, but reckless and irresponsible. In their attempt to validate their position, anti-death penalty advocates are putting words into Jesus’ mouth. I see nothing in Jesus’ sermon that prohibits the government from executing convicted murderers.
I wholeheartedly agree with the 13th century Catholic theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas when he said in his “Summa contra Gentiles” that, “The life of certain pestiferous men is an impediment to the common good which is the concord of human society. Therefore, certain men must be removed by death from the society of men.”
– Kevin Evans