As usual, presidential politics have overshadowed significant battles at the state levels. But, daunting dilemmas face concerned state voters this year—ranging from abolishing the death penalty to banning plastic bags at grocery stores.
California’s constitution provides for citizen-initiated, ballot proposals. This year’s propositions number more than sixteen and include hot-button social issues, with moral implications.
Please allow me to share my viewpoints on several of these initiatives, in this and a future blog. I will start with this year’s competing propositions concerning the death penalty. Whichever proposition gains the most votes will become California’s new law on this important moral issue.
Proposition 62 repeals the death penalty for first-degree murder and replaces it with life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole. This would be retroactively applied to the 748 condemned prisoners currently on death row, in various stages of costly appeals and seemingly endless petitions.
According to the state’s Voter Information Guide, “Prosecutors, law enforcement, and murder victims oppose Proposition 62 because it jeopardizes public safety, denies justice and closure to victim’s families, and rewards the most horrible killers.” The formal argument against the initiative goes on to state, “California’s death row inmates include the killers of:
- Over 1,000 MURDERED VICTIMS
- 226 CHILDREN
- 43 PEACE OFFICERS
- 294 victims who were RAPED or TORTURED before being killed”
California’s competing initiative, Proposition 66, seeks to “MEND not END” the death penalty by changing the procedures governing state court challenges to the death penalty. It recognizes the “broken” effects of the current laws, bogged down by endless appeals and costly processing, denying justice and closure to victim’s families. Convicted criminals are more likely to die in prison from natural causes than by legal execution. This proposal puts time limits on appeals, attempting to fast-track the judicial process.
So, how are believing Christians to vote on this “hot button” issue? What does the Bible say about the death penalty / capital punishment?
The helpful website GotQuestions.com includes this summary in it’s response to this question:
“God is the One who instituted capital punishment: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Jesus would support capital punishment in some instances. Jesus also demonstrated grace when capital punishment was due (John 8:1-11). The apostle Paul definitely recognized the power of the government to institute capital punishment where appropriate (Romans 13:1-7).”
Paul taught the Roman believers that human government and its officials are God’s servants to avenge and “execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4). He gave two reasons why God established human government: to restrain evil and for the purpose of retribution. God will exact vengeance at the final judgment (12:19), but also in this life, sometimes through civil government. If we want to keep a clear conscience before God, we must obey the civil government and support its God-intended role of retribution, in executing justice—so far as humanly possible.
We must humbly pray and conscientiously VOTE!