Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Death Penalty and the Peterson case

In the weeks prior to the election, I grew quite impatient with the 24-hour news channels. It seemed like by the time we got the baby down for the night, and I finally found a few spare minutes to check on the latest campaign news, all I could find was coverage of the Scott Peterson trial. I wanted election coverage and all Greta Van Susteren ever talked about was a murder case in California.

I see that Scott Peterson was given a death sentence by the jury. The death penalty is one of those issues where I often differ from my fellow conservatives. The Anchoress sums up my feelings exactly in this post.
Scott Peterson's soul is in serious, serious trouble. Do we decide to end his time on earth before he has had a chance to learn contrition, to seek redemption and forgiveness?

Some would say, "he's got about 15 years to find his contrition, and seek redemption, knowing he's going to die eventually; if he can't manage it in that time, to hell with him." Literally.

Others - like John Paul - would say, "it's not up to any man to decide how long it takes another to come to wisdom about his wrongdoing and to seek forgiveness. It is up to God, whose ways and means are not our ways or means."

To me a death sentence is essentially a hell sentence. To end a criminal's life before he has a chance to find the redemption offered by Christ, is to commit that soul to an eternity of darkness. That's not the sort of judgment I feel comfortable making; and I'm uncomfortable to think that anyone else could be comfortable with it. I understand the pro-capital punishment arguments, and I thank God that I've never been in the position of having to deal with the feelings of vengeance that families of murder victims must feel. So I have the luxury of standing on principle without struggling against a desire for retribution.

We cultivate these principles when there is no struggle so that if a time should come when those principles are tested, we have (hopefully) built and established a foundation for standing firm.

So I call myself a "cradle-to-grave" pro-lifer, not only opposing abortion, but euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the death penalty. These issues seem woven of the same cloth to me.


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