Capital punishment (commonly referred to as the death penalty) is the execution of a convicted criminal, carried out by a State. The punishment is applied in cases where someone has commited one or more capital crimes or capital offenses (i.e. murder, treason). The definition of a capital crime varies from country to country.
Capital punishment in the Bible
Supporters of capital punishment point to Genesis 9:6, which states:
"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image."
Many also use the following passage from St. Paul as a justification for not changing capital punishment laws:
- Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities
- that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist
- will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1-2)1
The Orthodox View?
It's difficult to define the Church's exact position on capital punishment as it has become a social issue mostly during the last century. Some jurisdictions have denounced it in formal statements: for example, this 1989 Resolution on the Death Penalty released by OCA. However, capital punishment has not been either fully accepted or condemned by the Church as a whole.
- Catholicism & Capital Punishment by Avery Cardinal Dulles, First Things 112 (April 2001): 30-35 (one Roman Catholic viewpoint)
- Capital punishment on Wikipedia
- A Bishop's Opposition to Capital Punishment From a letter by Bishop Seraphim (Storheim) of Ottawa
- A View of Capital Punishment from the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (for)
- The Orthodox Peace Fellowship on Crime, Punishment, and Reformation (against)
- 1 King James Version, in public domain. Courtesy of www.biblegateway.com