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Death Penalty

Karla Faye Tucker

karla-tucker-lgOn June 13, 1983, Karla and her boyfriend, Daniel Garrett, broke into a Houston apartment and murdered the two occupants with a pick ax. At her brief trial, Karla admitted her guilt outright and told the jury that no punishment was severe enough for her crime. But while Karla requested a life sentence, the jury recommended the death sentence, after a mere 70 minutes of deliberation.

On February 3, 1998, Karla was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas, the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. She asked for clemency, and a number of human-rights and conservative Christian groups rallied behind her, but their cry fell on deaf ears. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied her request for clemency (16-2 vote), and Governor Bush refused to grant a reprieve. Karla is now in the wonderful presence of the Lord.

Karla's case captured the nation's attention as satellites beamed the testimony of Jesus Christ around the world and reawakened the turbulent debate over the death penalty, an issue that had grown dormant in these tough-on-crime times. Is there a place for mercy in our legal system today? Are we called to carry out God's vengeance? Or, is this just a natural response of the vindictive nature of fallen man? What do you think?

What Would Jesus Do...?

...concerning the death penalty? "Who cares?" may be the response of a non-Christian (someone who has not yet received the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for sin). But as Christians, we are to care what Jesus would do concerning the death penalty.

As a Christian, what did Jesus do through you in the case of Karla? Did He demand strict justice? Her death? Did He mock her? Or say she deserved to die? Or was His death on the cross sufficient for her?

I know what He did through me. He wept for Karla and flowed through me with great compassion and mercy. He became righteously angry that politics, vengeance, retaliation, and pride took her life, instead of doing what He requires--doing right, loving mercy, and walking humbly before Him (Micah 6:8).

I heard Jesus say, "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her" (John 8:7). Then His brother James said, "For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God's mercy toward you will win out over His judgment against you" (James 2:13).

Old Testament Death Penalty Sins

There are forty-two death-penalty sins in the Old Testament. If the death penalty can be justifiably applied for murder, why can't it be justifiable for all the other sins below?

  • Murder - Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:12-14,20,23; Lev. 24:17,21; Num. 35:16-34; Deut. 19.
  • Failing to circumcise - Gen. 17:14; Ex. 4:24,25.
  • Eating leavened bread during feast of unleavened bread - Ex. 12:15,19.
  • Smiting Parents- Ex. 21:15.
  • Kidnapping - Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7.
  • Cursing Parents - Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9.
  • Negligence with animals that kill - Ex. 21:28-32.
  • Witchcraft - Ex. 22:18.
  • Bestiality - Ex. 22:19; Lev. 18:23-29; 20:15,16.
  • Idolatry - Ex. 22:20.
  • Making holy anointing oil - Ex. 30:33.
  • Putting holy anointing oil on strangers - Ex. 30:33.
  • Making the holy perfume - Ex. 30:38.
  • Defiling the Sabbath - Ex. 31:14.
  • Working on the Sabbath - Ex. 35:2.
  • Eating the flesh of the peace offerings in uncleanness - Lev. 7:20,21.
  • Eating the fat of sacrifices - Lev. 7:25.
  • Killing sacrifices other than at the door of the tabernacle - Lev. 17:1-9.
  • Eating blood - Lev. 17:10-14.
  • Incest - Lev. 18:6-29; 20:11-22.
  • Eating sacrifices at the wrong time - Lev. 19:5-8.
  • Consecration of children to idols - Lev. 20:1-5.
  • Spiritualism - Lev. 20:6,27.
  • Adultery - Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22-30.
  • Sodomy/Homosexuality - Lev. 20:13.
  • Relationship with a menstruous woman - Lev. 20:18.
  • Whoredom - Lev. 21:9; Deut. 22:21,22.
  • Sacrilege - Lev. 22:3.
  • Refusing to fast on day of atonement -Lev. 23:29.
  • Working on atonement - Lev. 23:30.
  • Blasphemy - Lev. 24:11-16.
  • Failure to keep the Passover - Num. 9:13.
  • Presumptuous - Num. 15:30,31.
  • Gathering firewood on the Sabbath - Num. 15:32,36.
  • Failure to purify self before worship - Num. 19:13,20.
  • False prophecy - Deut. 13:1-18; 18:20.
  • Leading men away from God - Deut. 13:6-18.
  • Stubbornness and rebelliousness - Deut. 21:18-23.
  • Gluttony - Deut. 21:20-23.
  • Drunkenness - Deut. 21:20-23.
  • Backbiting - Deut. 17:2-7.
  • False dreams and visions - Deut. 13:1-18.

The top executioners today are China, Ukraine, Belarus, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and a few others. The same countries who persecute Christians the most. China executed 4,200 people last year, verses 74 in the USA. China executes bandits, thieves, unsavory businessmen, and political diviants. We have a long way to go to catch up, but by implementing all the Old Testament sins, executing criminals as young as 13, and eliminating certain legal procedures and appeals, we should be on our way to catching up. Can the American conscience handle scores of executions a day?

Faith and Freedom Coalition

Charles Watson Speaks Out