Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Capital Punishment 2

On Monday evening I organised a discussion evening at my local pub on Capital Punishment.

I began by looking at two stories where someone's child had been murdered and the response of the parents  after the trial and conviction of the murderer.

Jo Yeates' family regretted that the death penalty wasn't an option for Vincent Tabak.

Anthony Walker's family believed that with imprisonment justice had been done, and they forgive their son's killers.

Two of the guys from the church both shared for five minutes, one arguing for and one against CP.

We then had group discussion.

I must admit at being surprised by how many people were in favour of CP.  I was more surprised by how many Christian's were in favour of CP.

It was argued that murder is such a heinous act that the only suitable justice is for the life of the murderer to be taken.

Some said that the cost to keep people in prison's is too high, so CP is a suitable alternative for murderer's.

Many other views were expressed in favour.

Those against CP spoke about how God alone has the right to give and take life.

Some argued that Britain's culture is not suited to CP and would be wrong in light of our understanding and approach to justice.

Some argued that punishment needs to be restorative not retributive, and CP is too final.

I am firmly against CP.  Indeed I believe violence is not the way through which punishment and justice should be carried out.  I suspect that I am heading towards becoming a pacifist.

Something of the cross-bearing, forgiving love, and dignity which Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, revealed to be the normative way to be human, must be the norm for all humans, whether they know it or not.

The goal of punishment must surely be reconciliation and forgiveness.  The absence of hope or forgiveness can lead to devastating affects, both on the offender and within the society.

The end of punishment has been transformed by the cross and resurrection of Christ.

Justice depends on the practices of the people that embodies the hard-won wisdom of the past, tested by the challenges of today in the hope of a better future.

Jesus’ death is the death that ends all death.  Justice has been found, won and restored at the cross, and so it is the belief that all justice finds its place at the cross.  This one death is in order that humanity might travel to a better future where violence is no longer the means of punishment.  It is a call to lay down our weapons and desire for violence, and to seek transformation of ourselves, our society and our world through self-giving love, forgiveness and sacrifice.  Is that possible in a violent world?  Well that’s down to us all isn’t it? 

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