Friday, April 08, 2005

Vox Day on the Death Penalty

I have enjoyed Vox Day's writings for some time. Sometimes I agree wholeheartedly, sometimes, like this one, I disagree. His best writings are the ones that just leave me thinking.

"The Dangerous Death Penalty" is an article that has some sentiment that I respect. The mistake he makes that I disagree with is in his bible quotes proving that one of the alternate opinions that I also respect, and happen to hold, opens the door to something all of us detest by simple logic. Discussion of the Death Penalty often leads to discussions of abortion. Simple math tells us that there are 4 groups of people with regard to their positions on these two topics (in no particular order) in terms of whether you think they should be allowed. There are obviously people who believe that something is wrong but should not be banned although I believe most people who claim this on these two issues are just wimping out or really don't have an opinion and want to sound sophisticated.

1. For death penalty, For abortion
2. For death penalty, Against abortion
3. Against death penalty, For abortion
4. Against death penalty, Against abortion

I happen to believe that there are three of these that are defensible positions. The obvious are #1 and #4. One can logically and ethically be against all killing (#4 and where Vox is). One can also be of the mind that individual human life is not of great importance (#1). The middle two are where the battle ground is, and represent the majority of people that I have ever had a conversation with on these topics.

Vox makes the following argument, biblically, about people in group #2.

"In embracing the death penalty and attempting to defend it on biblical principles, conservatives are again confusing legality with morality, mistaking human legislation for God's Law. This confusion was highlighted by the angry conservative response to the Schiavo murder, which was, from start to finish, manifestly legal. But the death penalty sanctioned by Mosaic Law had no connection to any government, and from a Christian perspective, Jesus Christ's only encounter with the death penalty was to interfere with its operation and spare the intended victim.

Against this, pro-death penalty Christians will naturally turn to Romans 13. But this verse is a double-edged sword, for such an interpretation not only requires acceptance of the American death penalty, but also the Communist Chinese government's forced abortions, the Soviet Union's mass starvations and the National Socialists' gas chambers, among many other lethal historical events – all of which were legal actions of the legitimate authorities. It would also require the repudiation of America's own Founding Fathers, who were unquestionably in rebellion against the well-established authority of King George III."


The error in this interpretation is that Romans 13 does not override the 10 Commandments. A very common problem with interpretation of these most fundamental laws of God for English speaking people is that almost every translation into English has an error. Everybody knows "Though shall not Kill" is one of the commandments even if they cannot tell you which one it is. The problem is that this is a translation error. The proper translation is "Though shall not Murder". If you don't believe this please find yourself an observant Jew capable of reading the Hebrew. If that seems too difficult consider that God gives his people a series of crimes against God's law for which the penalty is death. If the common English translation were accurate the Old Testament would be in conflict with itself. God calls for various death penalties for crimes ranging from murder to adultery (and yes, this was the government as they knew it because they were ruled by Jewish Kings).

Knowledgeable Christians who fall into group #2 do not look to Romans but look to the 10 Commandments for a ban on abortion as murder and to Exodus and Deuteronomy for support for the Death Penalty.

Romans 13 is about submission to the government. It really does not apply in this circumstance. Romans 13:9 includes the correct translation of the Commandments in "Do not murder" (NIV). Further, my Zondervan NIV Life Application Study Bible has the following in it's footnotes of Romans 13:

"Jesus and his apostles never disobeyed the government for personal reasons; when they disobeyed it was in order to follow their higher loyalty to God."

This is the traditional position of Christians on government authority. One should obey one's government up to the point that doing so violates God's law. This does not mean one should not attempt to change one's government, just that you follow the law until it gets changed unless doing so violates God's law. If one believes that abortion is murder then the government is in violation of God's law in allowing abortion. The government executing murders is in support of God's law so there is no conflict.

..... Vox Disagreement off ....

The position that is difficult to defend religiously or logically is group #3. To claim that the government should allow abortion (particularly those who support third trimester abortion on demand) and should not be allowed to execute a ruthless mass murderer is illogical as well as being contrary to the law of the monotheistic religions. To claim that a 7 month old "fetus" is not a person is illogical. A dear friend of mine will laugh at you as his son, born early in the seventh month of gestation last week, will be coming home soon. If his wife had decided, with or without his permission, to have the pregnancy terminated the day before her water broke it would have been done and been legal. To claim that this is not murder is laughable. We might be able to argue about whether abortion in month 2 is murder or not. To claim with a straight face that a 7th month abortion on demand is not murder makes you either an idiot or a foolish zealot.

1 Comments:

At Wed May 10, 08:36:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also done some research on the Kings of Israel and thought I might share this information with the others who are interested. I also researched the tribe they were from, the approximate time that they lived as well as the contemporaries of the time. If you are interested you might want to check it out at http://www.BibleFamilyTree.com .

 

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