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This house supports the Death Penalty. (Biblical Perspective)

(PRO)
1 point
(CON)
WINNER!
4 points
KrazyKrazy (PRO)

I thank my opponent for setting up this debate. This will be fun.


I will be arguing that the Bible does support the use of capital punishment, including in the modern day.


For all passages I will use the English Standard Version (ESV). It’s a good translation that’s both accurate and easy to read as well at the same time.


First off, there’s no doubt that the Old Testament supported capital punishment. It had the death penalty ascribed for murder, rape, adultery, prostitution, bestiality, kidnapping, homosexuality, false prophet, and many more. And there was another difference, it was God who prescribed the death penalty in ancient Israel, not man. Ancient Israel was the only true theocracy in the world - in which God ruled directly.


But outside of ancient Israel, God has given human governments the authority to determine when the death penalty was due as well. Paul writes in Romans 13:1-3,


“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”


We see the same principle in Genesis 9:6,


“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”


So if all governing authorities are given by God, then we shouldn’t try to resist the government’s ability to give the death penalty.


I look forward to con’s responses.


Return To Top | Posted:
2015-06-08 20:41:44
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
Welcome Judges to what proves to be an exciting debate on the Death Penalty. 
I thank my opponent for their first round - I look forward to hearing their biblical defense of the willful execution of God's creation. 

Framing this debate:
As my opponent hasn't done so, I'll begin by elaborating the scope of this debate. 
The resolution is self explanatory - this debate will argue for and against the use of the Death Penalty as a sentence to be delivered by Man to Man. The rules of the debate specify that THIS debate will center around the BIBLICAL perspective. In 2015, does God favor the death penalty over some other form of punishment? Would Jesus pull the switch?

My opponent will be using the Bible to support their assertion that this is so, while I will be using the same Bible to show that for every verse that preaches an eye for an eye, there are two that preach forgiveness. For every passage on condemnation, there are two for restoration. My opponent will be painting a stark picture of Justice and Judgment, while I will show you that the overwhelming theme of the Bible is actually one of Mercy and Love.

Judges, your duty in the debate is examine the evidence and decide whether the Christian message is a stronger advocate for the Death Penalty or for Restorative Justice.

Rebuttal
Before I begin my points, I'd like to address my opponent's. The reason for this is that several of their points actually advocate my position. 

Old Testament rule: The Mosaic Law - It's true. The Old Law prescribed the Death Penalty for a WIDE range of sins.  Along with the ones my opponent mentioned, his side would also need to advocate for the death penalty for the following "crimes": Atheism (or any other religious belief for that matter) ; Sex during your period ; Mowing the lawns on Sunday afternoon ; Not listening to your parents when they tell you to get a haircut and get a real job ; Not being a virgin when you get married (women only)  
The problem with shifting this structure from Old Testament Israel to Modern day Earth is exactly what my opponent describes.
 "...it was God who prescribed the death penalty in ancient Israel, not man. Ancient Israel was the only true theocracy in the world - in which God ruled directly." - PRO
God is a perfect and infallible judge, who looks into the heart of Man. Man does not have this ability.

Jesus abolished the Mosaic Law - the Mosaic Covenant made between God and Israel consists of all of the old testament laws my Opponent has cited... and many more. 
This law was superceded by a new covenant instituted by Jesus in the New Testament. This is predicted in the Old Testament and cited numerous times in the New Testament - perhaps one of the clearest instances is this one from Hebrews:

"But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." - Hebrews 8: 6-7

I will present irrefutable evidence that Jesus - who IS God, is not an advocate of the Death Penalty later in this round.

Obeying God-appointed Government
This is a sneaky little sidestep from my opponent. This resolution is all about whether the Death Penalty today is supported by the biblical message of mercy and redemption. By pointing out that the Bible calls for us to obey those whom God has put in authority over us, my opponent would have us distracted from the resolution. 
My Government tells me that I must drive my car when I have had too many beers. Is THIS mandated in the Bible? Of course not!

This resolution is about whether the BIBLE advocates the Death Penalty - not that the Government does and not whether we do.

Constructive Case
In this round, I will shortly presenting evidence that Jesus, aka God, aka Author of the Bible - personally condemned the Death Penalty. 
Next round I will be showing that, rather than a message of punishment, the Bible is all about a message of mercy. 

The Woman at the Well
"Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” - John 8: 2-11

Here's the break down of this important event. As my opponent already established, the Mosaic Law demanded that this woman receive the penalty of Death as a result of her Adultery. 
Jesus - who is God; challenged the Pharisees to examine themselves and see who was worthy to judge by casting the first stone. None of them was without sin so they acknowledged that they could not make such a judgement and carry out the sentence. 
In truth, there WAS one person there who was without sin - Jesus himself. 
The woman WAS guilty - that is never disputed. Jesus was uniquely placed as being the only person qualified to carry out the sentence. He would have been justified in doing so. 

He demonstrates the fact that the Death Penalty is no longer valid by refusing to carry it out. 

The Bible does not advocate the Death Penalty for earthly crimes today because when God himself was in a position to carry out His own prescribed sentence - He refused to do so. 

Next round we will show that this position was entirely consistent with God's message of mercy and forgiveness. 
  

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-06-11 09:19:17
| Speak Round
Cross-Examination
: In your first round you stated that the resolution, that the bible supports the Death Penalty is shown by the fact that God has given governments the ability to determine for themselves if it is a good thing.
: Ireland's government recently made homosexual marriage legal. Would you say that the bible therefore supports Gay Marriage?
: Of course not. It is clear in Genesis that God made marriage to be between one man and one woman. Romans 13 doesn't say that whatever the government does is right. But it does say that we are to obey it. The only time when we can willingly disobey the government is when it commands us to do evil. For Acts 5:29 says that we should obey God rather than man.
: Can you show me a verse of the Bible that prohibits governments from executing the death penalty for all instances?
: No, and I don't need to. The onus is on you to show that the Bible advocates it, not that it doesn't prevent it.
: So if you agree that not everything a government does is biblically supported, what impact does your verse have which commands us to obey governments?
: It just means we should obey them. We have a good example from Paul. When he was writing Romans, Nero was the emperor of Rome. It's suffice to say that he was one of the most evil emperors of Rome. He committed some very heinous (such as gay marriage). For example, when the great Roman fire occurred in 64 anno domini, Nero was suspected of it. When he was accused of it, he executed some of the most gruesome tortures in Rome. Many would think that Paul would encourage us to rise up against this oppressive and evil ruler. We have Romans 13:1-7 instead. To submit to the government authorities.
: That's pretty powerful, given the kind of emperor Nero was. So we are to obey the governing authorities, just as Paul said.
: What is your response to Genesis 9:6?
: A small part of the Noahic Covenent. Not prescriptive, merely observational. To be clear - this is not a "thou shalt", it's more a divine warning at a time where human life was particularly precious.
: To sum up regarding government obedience - do you concede that this directive ONLY supports obedience to those in authority, and does NOT condone/endorse the actual actions themselves?
: To answer directly - yes. But keep in mind, the governments are put there by God Himself. So to disobey the government would be like disobeying God. Human government was put in place to establish order, punish evildoers, and promote justice. The only time when the Bible permits us to commit civil disobedience is when the government commands us to do what God Himself told us to not do, and vice versa. Like for example, when the government tells us not to preach the gospel, we have to disobey because God tells us to do that in His Word.
: And Paul recognized the power of the government to execute the death penalty when it is appropriate (Romans 13:1-7).
: Thank you. No further questions your honor.

Return To Top | Speak Round
KrazyKrazy (PRO)

I thank my opponent for finishing round 1 and CX.


It is clear in Romans 13 that civil governments are instituted by God.


In Romans 12:19, Paul forbids personal revenge, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’”. Then in Romans 13, Paul explains that we should leave punishment “to the wrath of God” meaning allowing punishment to come through the civil government, which is “the servant of God, and avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (13:4). So, while personal retaliation is forbidden, civil authorities are to punish evildoers.


In what way civil government decide to punish evildoers, that is up to human government, because human government is “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14). It is clear in the Bible that the penalty for crimes are left up to the human governments, which are God’s avengers of God’s wrath. Whether the penalties be jail time or death, that is for the human governments to decide, as said in Romans 13.


When the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and asked Him if she should be stoned, Jesus replied, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). This should not be used to indicate that Jesus rejected capital punishment in all instances. Jesus was simply exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus into breaking the Old Testament law; they did not truly care about the woman being stoned (where was the man who was caught in adultery?) 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).


God did have forgiveness when the death penalty was due at times. For example, David committed adultery and murder, both of which were punishable by death. A couple instances like this and the woman at the well should not be extrapolated and say that God doesn’t support the death penalty at all; He is the one who instituted it (Genesis 9:6). And He gave the authority for man-made governments to use it when they see fit (Romans 13:4).


It is unbiblical to claim that the Bible opposes the death penalty in all instances.


The resolution is affirmed.


Sources


ESV Study Bible


Got Questions Ministries


Return To Top | Posted:
2015-06-12 15:53:59
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
I thank my opponent for that round, and also for the CX which I'd like to recap first up.

CX Point: The Bible mandates we obey those placed in authority over us. (Governments) Is this relevant to this debate?
Happily, after this first round of CX, we have a consensus. The answer to this question is, no - this point is not relevant to this debate. 
My opponent concedes that, while the Bible commands us to obey those in power over us, it stops short of actually saying that whatever governments choose to legislate is also supported by the Bible. My opponent also points out that in some cases the Bible actually commands us to NOT obey the government - specifically, cases where the government mandate goes against God's mandate. 
Judges will be happy to note that they can disregard PRO's first round point regarding Rom13:1-3 being a support for this resolution. PRO has opened round two with a slightly different angle on the same passage though, and I'll address that shortly.

Round Two Point: Governments are God's avenging arm - therefore the Death Penalty is favored by God.
 PRO has used the first seven verses of Romans 13 to claim that the Bible advocates for the Death Penalty. He hasn't quoted the verses so for those judges who might not have memorised them, here they are:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. - Romans 13:1-7

When we read this passage, it is abundantly clear that the specific crime that Paul is talking about is a failure by the Jews to pay their taxes. This is mentioned several times and is contextually relevant given the historical context of tension surrounding Roman rule over the Jews. There is no mention here of the Death Penalty at all. 
My side is not suggesting that this passage excludes obeying other laws aside from taxes, I don't think it does. It's also not specifically condemning whatever form of punishment the Roman overlords deemed fit.
However, crucially for PRO - neither does this passage suggest that the Roman laws were biblically moral, and neither does it suggest that their punishments, and indeed their system of trial, were biblically moral either. The Bible is FULL of examples where God uses immoral men to deliver his judgement to the Israelites, both on a national level, (eg. Egypt holding them as slaves for decades) and individually, (God giving Job over to Satan himself).

In his last round PRO makes this statement:
"The apostle Paul definitely recognized the power of the government to institute capital punishment where appropriate (Romans 13:1-7)" - PRO
As I've just pointed out, Paul asserts nothing as specific as this. Capital punishment is not mentioned or even alluded to. Paul is telling us to submit to those God has put in authority over us, he is NOT telling us that their actions or decisions are just and moral. It's disingenuous to use these verses to make that extra leap.

When answering the question posed by this resolution, we must ask ourselves - what did Jesus show?
Jesus is important, because Jesus IS God and the Bible is God's book - it communicates His thoughts to us. 
The Old Testament law that my opponent brought up was very clear. Death was prescribed for many sins. When God was walking the Earth as Man, He had ample opportunity to show that this sentence was still considered relevant today. 

Sin of Adultery - committed by the woman at the Well - Jesus pardoned her. 
Working on the Sabbath - committed by the Disciples as they pick grain and by Jesus himself as he heals - Jesus explains that that rule is no more.
Desecrating the Temple - committed by the merchants - Jesus forcibly kicks them out but does not actually kill them.

The Apostles, those closest to Jesus who had been taught first hand from him,  had even further chance to advocate for the Death Penalty - and yet they preached forgiveness and mercy instead. 

Constructive argument against Gen 9:6 and the "eye for an eye" argument:
My opponent has already brought up Gen 9:6 where God is speaking with Noah immediately after the flood. God is observing that times have now changed on this brave new planet, the population must be reborn and human life is more precious than ever. There are similar passages which are often brought up where the law prescribes "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." - in fact these kind of "like for like" law is brought up exactly three separate times in the Old Testament.  
Here's what Jesus has to say about it: 
Matthew 5 lays God's thoughts on crime and punishment out as far as Man is concerned.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." - Matthew 5: 38-42

God begins this passage by explaining that Man has the wrong idea about the degrees of sin. He reveals that just thinking an unkind thought about a person is the same level of sin as actually killing that person. He continues along the same vein for a bunch of other "capital sins".
The quoted passage from Matt 5:38 finally reveals the truth that God and the Bible actually advocate, as far as Man goes - Forgive.  

This concept is taught over and over again throughout the New Testament. And here's why:

Why God would rather we forgive than kill:
2 Peter 3:9 reveals God's wishes for Mankind. He knows we are all guilty of Sin. None of us have been able to live up to the criteria of the Old Testament law my Opponent has brought up. The just punishment for us all is Death. However, God has created an alternative path - crucially, a God-preferred path. This is the plan He supports. 
He would rather that all men come to know Him as Lord. 
This means that God's preferred method is rehabilitation, rather than retribution. Taking a criminal's life removes all possibility of that person coming to know God.

To put it as a syllogism, it looks like this:
P1: God wants all men to repent.
P2: You can't repent when you're dead.
C1: God would prefer men to live. 

The problem with this is that God causes people to die all the time. For this reason we must add the following qualifying syllogism:
P1: God is a perfect judge. 
P2: Man is an imperfect judge.
C1: God should be the one to deliver a capital judgement. 

In short, Man is not qualified to decide when it is appropriate to take someone's life. And this is not my opinion, this is God's. 
"For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” - 1 Sam 16:7
 This practice of forgiveness was demonstrated by Jesus, picked up and repeated by the Apostles - and it should be continued by us today. 

Does the Bible advocate Man delivering Capital Punishment where he sees fit?
No, it advocates Man's forgiveness and God's unique qualification as Judge. 



Return To Top | Posted:
2015-06-15 08:55:40
| Speak Round
Cross-Examination
: CON: Do you believe that Jesus truly WAS God? And that God wrote the Bible? And the the Bible expresses God's wishes for us?
: Yes of course.
: You said that in Genesis 9:6, that only applied because human life was precious. But isn't human life always precious, no matter how many people there are on the Earth?
: Or to rephrase that question: Doesn't every human have the same value? Was Noah's life (and his most recent descendants) more valuable than ours on the sole reason that there were less people?
: Was human life more precious when there were only eight humans alive? Yes. Yes it was.
: This doesn't mean that human life is not precious at other times, only that it was MORE precious when there was a very real chance we might not be able to grow the population again.
: CON: He allows us to do both, but does God prefer us to show mercy or to dish out just punishment?
: It seems like He does both. And He prefers both. Even though He has love to an infinite degree, keep in mind He also has holiness to an infinite degree. Which means that He demands justice. Justice always needs to be served. He didn't just "forgive" us. He DID forgive us, but there still needed to be a punishment. Somebody has to take the penalty. That's the reason God the father gave God the son (Jesus Christ) the death penalty. Justice has to be served no matter what.
: CON: To be very clear, you're saying that God prefer US to show justice to exactly the same degree as he prefers us to show mercy?
: I'm saying the Bible seems to indicate that the most important nature of God is His holiness. Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 describe God as "holy holy holy" 3 times. Holiness hates sin, and therefore demands justice. At the same time, love is another extremely important attribute of God also. Because in 1 John 4:8 says that God is love".
: *Because 1 John 4:8 says that "God is love".*
: Should mankind show mercy more than justice or vice versa? The Bible does not explicitly say. But given the attributes of God described in the Bible, there needs to be a healthy balance.
: That's the only thing we can infer.
: CON: yes, you seem to be missing part of my question. It's less related to ranking God's attributes as it is about trying to interpret God's wishes for us.
: He wishes us to come to repentance and to saving faith in Jesus Christ. But in regards to the death penalty, it has little relevance. Yes, the death penalty cuts one's life short, but they still had their whole life to decide to have faith in Christ.
: CON: In Matt 18:21-35, God appears to be very clear. His preference is that we mirror His mercy rather than His justice. This is likely due to our inability to judge a situation as well as him.
: Who decides how many days a man has on earth?
: Mathew 18:21-35 is talking about forgiveness of other people. It's not talking about sentences in courtrooms. Should we not punish murderers and let them roam free, in the name of "forgiveness"? Of course not. That's just lawlessness. And the Bible speaks about that very negatively. God decides the amount of days a man has. He also said that He instituted the governments (Romans 13:1) and that they are an avenger of His wrath (Romans 13:4). He acts through the governments in terms of punishing evildoers. So He allows the death penalty. He doesn't command it, but He does allow it.
: CON: There's no need to take things to the extreme. Forgives and Mercy doesn't mean that murders go unpunished. Criminals can still be sentenced to jail time. This shows mercy and allows them to live out their natural lifespans... and possibly repent- something that a lot of prisoners do.
: Yes, and some types of death penalties are more merciful than others.
: CON: Haha. That's probably another topic.
: Lol, yeah. "Should torture be used by the government".
: CON: Matt 18:21-37 is very relevant to this debate as it truly reveals the desire of God for us to mirror his mercy and let him wort about the justice. This concept is record throughout the NT, in passages like the Beatitudes.
: And also by example, from both Jesus and the Apostles.
: CON: I want repeat my earlier question: Accepting that God allows both, do you think it pleases him MORE when we show justice or mercy to those who have wronged us?
: Those passages are for man-to-man relationships. The truth is that God acts through the government to punish evildoers. If that's the case (which the Bible says it is), then if there was a type of punishment that God wouldn't allow, He would have said it in His Bible. Because Romans 13 makes it very clear that governments are instituted by God Himself.
: I just now got your question. It depends on what you mean by “those who have wronged us”. It’s a complex question. Concerning justice, only governments have that authority. The Bible says that we’re supposed to have mercy and forgive our neighbors. But concerning court sentences, the Bible gives no indication of which penalties are too harsh.
: When the Bible talks about forgiveness, it's always in the context of a heart attitude. It's never in the context of government sentences of punishments.
: Including in the parable of the unforgiving servant that you mentioned. But the Bible never says that a specific punishment should be prohibited by the government.
: CON: So your position is that the Death Penalty is God's preferred sentence for Murder because if it wasn't then the Government wouldn't be allowed (by God) to do it?
: CON: (I plan to address your inference that government is completely detached from the will of us, the individuals, later.)
: No. I'm saying that the governments are His tool of wrath (Romans 13:4). He doesn't command governments to use the death penalty, but since they are His sword (Romans 13:4) of punishment, He does allow it.
: CON: Is, "allow" in your mind, the same as, "support"?
: Sure.
: Interesting.
: What does "This house supports the death penalty" mean?
: Clearly not in every instance though right? You've already said that God doesn't support Gay marriage, even though he allows it...
: Nevermind that question. I'll answer yours in a minute...
: Romans 13 is clearly talking about punishment of evildoers. The purpose of the passage is to show that the purpose of governments is to punish evildoers. He does allow sin to happen (like homosexuality) but this is irrelevant to the death penalty. Since governments are instituted by God to punish evildoers, the method of punishment is left to the government to decide. And to claim that the Bible opposes the death penalty in all instances is unbiblical.
: Nevermind, allow isn't the same thing as support. But the point is that God has given governments the authority to determine which punishment is appropriate for the crime. So we shouldn't oppose the government when it executes the death penalty.
: Because according to Romans 13, God has given the governments the authority to determine when the death penalty is due. And the fact that He clearly supported it in Genesis 9:6 is also noteworthy.
: OK. So would "advocate for" be a better synonym for support?
: Yes, that's the same thing, yeah.
: OK great. In a practical sense, do Christians elect the Government? And when they vote, doors it make sense that they would vote for a government which they feel best advocates for those things which God advocates for?
: Do Christians elect the government? Well, ultimately, God appoints the leaders (Romans 13). We have a part in the democratic process, but ultimately, God is in control. And yes, we should vote for leaders who agree with biblical doctrine.
: *(Romans 13:1)*
: I'm interested to understand your inference that government is detached from individual. God tells individuals not to steal, is it fair to assume he also prefers governments not to steal? God tells individuals to care for the weak. Is it fair to assume that he also prefers governments to care for the weak?
: God tells us to show mercy and leave vengeance to him, is it fair to assume he also prefers governments to do the same?
: Yes, the government is separate from the individuals. If I "executed the death penalty" on somebody, I would be a murderer myself. But if the government does it, it's okay. Because all governments are instituted by God to punish evildoers. He says that stealing is wrong, no matter who does it. He also says that everybody should protect the weak and innocent. So to answer your first two questions: Yes and Yes. I'll answer your last one in a minute...
: And yes, we should leave vengeance to him. That's why He instituted the governments and they are an avenger of His wrath. He puts the governments there to carry out the punishments. That's why vigilantees who lock people up in their own homes have no right to do that.
: CON: So your stated position is that God expects government to adhere to the same principles as individuals in every example EXCEPT the one about showing mercy. Oh hang on, the one about not killing doesn't apply to them either. Is this right?
: The point is, God has given governments the authority to execute the death penalty when appropriate. When a man murders somebody, the just penalty would be to end the life of the murderer. He makes this clear in Genesis 9:6. And considering mercy, the Bible says that governments are the the sword of God's "wrath" (Romans 13:4). Yes, His wrath. When the Bible talks about mercy, It's either in the context of Jesus dying for us, or forgiving our fellow man. Concerning government punishments, it says that governments are executors of God's wrath. This is what the Bible says.
: CON: Thanks. I think I have a fair assessment of your position. Good luck for the final round!
: Thanks man, you too!

Return To Top | Speak Round
KrazyKrazy (PRO)

I thank my opponent for finishing round 2 and relentlessly interrogating me in CX.


Now, it is clear in the Bible that God gave governments the authority to choose the punishments for criminals in Romans 13:1-7. It says that governments are the sword that God uses to carry out punishments (Romans 13:4). It’s in black and white here. It’s pretty clear. God uses governments to punish evildoers; whatever that punishment may be. And the death penalty is one of those punishments, particularly for the most evil of crimes. So God allows the government to use the death penalty when appropriate. Con tries to equate this to gay marriage, in that God “allows” it to happen. But here’s the difference: The Bible says that homosexuality is sinful. It does not say that the death penalty is wrong.


In fact, it seems to support it if anything, such as when God gave the first allowance for human government to use the death penalty in Genesis 9:6. Con says that God gave government the authority to execute the death penalty because the human population was small at the time. But that is not scripturally supported. That wasn’t the reason why God gave man the authority to use the death penalty. The Bible never says that’s the reason. So if that wasn’t the reason, then what was? The reason is inside the verse. The verse says: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image” (Genesis 9:6). That’s the reason: “for God made man in His own image”. It wasn’t “for the human population was small”. It was because we are made in His image. To say that the reason was because the population was small would be “adding” stuff to the Bible. Nowhere in there does it say that. If a man murders another man, the just penalty would be for man to take the life of the murderer. The reason is that man is made in God’s image. So that makes murder a unique crime. Because if man is made in God’s image, and if a man murders him, that kinda says something. This puts murder into a category of it’s own. It’s unique. It’s a special sin. This isn’t to say that there is a “worse” sin or “the greatest” sin, but it’s just unique. Technically all sins are equal, all deserving hell. But murder is “unique” in that man murders man who is “made in His own image”. That’s why God prescribes the death penalty only for murder in Genesis 9:6.


God instituted the death penalty in the first place and did not hesitate to execute it. And God showed grace when the death penalty was due also. The first example of this was Cain, Adam and Eve’s very first child, as well as the first murderer. Adam and Eve were our ultimate grandfather and grandmother. Now, when Cain murdered Abel, God didn’t execute the death penalty. Instead, He sent him out as a wanderer on the earth. Another example was David, who was a murderer and an adulterer, both of which were punishable by death from the Mosaic law. But God didn’t kill him, another rare instance. But these very few instances should not be relentlessly extrapolated to say that God doesn’t want man to use the death penalty at all. He says we can use it (Genesis 9:6). He also says that governments are His tool of punishment (Romans 13:4). So we shouldn’t argue against whatever that punishment may be.


My opponent attempts to refute Romans 13 by saying that the passage doesn’t use the words “death penalty”. While true, it does say that the governments are His tool of punishment. And the death punishment fits the category of “punishment”.


My opponent says “…neither does this passage suggest that the Roman laws were biblically moral, and neither does it suggest that their punishments, and indeed their system of trial, were biblically moral either.” No, but it does say that the punishments are for the evildoers (Romans 13:4) and that is always just.


My opponent mentioned the fact that Jesus spared the adulterous woman. But the point of the passage was to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It wasn’t about abolishing the death penalty.


My opponent argues that since God is the perfect judge, only He should use the death penalty. While it is true that He is the perfect judge, He told man that it’s okay for us to use the death penalty (Genesis 9:6). And since He acts through human governments to avenge evildoers and to punish them (Romans 13:4), whatever punishment God uses through the government, the penalty is up to them.


My opponent brings up the point excessively that we should be forgiving, and therefore (so the argument goes) we should not use the death penalty. The problem with this logic however is that I could say that life in prison is “unforgiving” so therefore we shouldn’t use life in prison as a sentence. Another example, “50 years in prison without parole is so unforgiving; so we shouldn’t use that punishment because it’s a cruel and inhumane sentence”. Or “35 years in prison is so unforgiving; we should show forgiveness and lessen the punishment.” My opponent said that we should show mercy. If we are going to argue that way, then I could say that some forms of the death penalty are more merciful than others. Some are relentlessly painful torture, while others are supposed to be quick-and-easy. My opponent says that the death penalty should be abolished because “Taking a criminal’s life removes all possibility of that person coming to know God.” First, that’s false. They still had their whole lives right up to that point to decide to have faith in Jesus. Second, everybody dies eventually; and God gave the authority for us to give the death penalty (Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:1-7).


In summarization, to claim that the Bible opposes the death penalty in all instances is unbiblical.


Return To Top | Posted:
2015-06-16 23:39:16
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
I thank my opponent for their third and final round, and for letting me interrogate them relentlessly in CX. 

As this is the final round in this debate, I'll be keeping new information to a minimum, summing up my side of the resolution, and explaining why I've won. 

The Resolution:
Through the course of this debate my opponent has been subtly shifting the goal posts. The resolution for this debate state that we are arguing the Biblical perspective on the Death Penalty. Does the Bible support the use of Capital Punishment? 
In the last round of CX, I grilled my opponent to establish the burden of proof he was attempting to prove. Note this section - I'm going to edit/format it here for readability and emphasis, but the entire exchange is there if you'd like to read for yourself:

CON: So your position is that the Death Penalty is God's preferred sentence for Murder because if it wasn't then the Government wouldn't be allowed (by God) to do it?
PRO: No. I'm saying that the governments are His tool of wrath (Romans 13:4). He doesn't command governments to use the death penalty, but since they are His sword (Romans 13:4) of punishment, He does allow it
CON: Is, "allow" in your mind, the same as, "support"?
PRO: Sure.
CON: Interesting.
CON: Clearly not in every instance though right? You've already said that God doesn't support Gay marriage, even though he allows it..
PRO: : Romans 13 is clearly talking about punishment of evildoers. The purpose of the passage is to show that the purpose of governments is to punish evildoers. He does allow sin to happen (like homosexuality) but this is irrelevant to the death penalty. Since governments are instituted by God to punish evildoers, the method of punishment is left to the government to decide. And to claim that the Bible opposes the death penalty in all instances is unbiblical.
PRO: Nevermind, allow isn't the same thing as support. But the point is that God has given governments the authority to determine which punishment is appropriate for the crime. So we shouldn't oppose the government when it executes the death penalty.
PRO: Because according to Romans 13, God has given the governments the authority to determine when the death penalty is due. And the fact that He clearly supported it in Genesis 9:6 is also noteworthy.
CON: OK. So would "advocate for" be a better synonym for support?
PRO: Yes, that's the same thing, yeah. - Round 2 CX (Edited and emphasis added)

It is quite clear from this exchange that both sides are attempting to debate the same resolution. It is not enough for PRO to prove that God and the Bible merely allow governments to use the Death Penalty, they must argue that God advocates for the Death Penalty. 
This they have failed to do. All of their evidence has pointed towards the fact that Governments are instituted by God and are given free reign to come up with whatever punishments they deem fit, including the Death Penalty. They've shown that God ALLOWS the Death Penalty, not that He SUPPORTS it.

Alternatively my evidence has shown that God and the Bible DOES have a preferred reaction for us to take when someone sins against us - it's mercy and forgiveness. 
This is preached by God in passages like the one I quoted from Matthew - commonly referred to as the Beatitudes..
It's also demonstrated by Jesus in His forgiveness of the lady at the well, where He declined to carry out the appropriate sentence.
As my esteemed opponent brings up, it's also shown by God in the story of Cain and Abel - particularly relevant as the crime here is literally Murder!
It's worth actually looking at this passage:

"Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him." - Gen 4:14-15

Here we see the very first instance of Murder. God was witness and condemns Cain. His sentence is exile. Not only does God not kill Cain, but he specifically makes it so that nobody else kills him either. Yet again, we have evidence that God's preference is not for Death, but rather for repentance.

Why have I won this point?
Because my opponent has only shown that God allows Governments to use the Death Penalty. The fact that He also allows Governments to legalize sinful behavior proves that His "allowing" something does not equal His support for it.
In return, my side has shown from actual biblical examples, as well as from preached messages, that God's will is more in line with restorative justice - for example, jail time.
The resolution questions which form of punishment Jesus advocates for, and the answer is jail time. 

Is the Government distinct from the Individual?
Judges may wonder why this was a point that was discussed. The Bible is very clear in the New Testament about how God wants us to live our lives. The guiding principles of morality are preached over and over again. I wanted to prove that God's morality as it applies to individuals, is no different when we apply it to governing bodies. 
At times my opponent seemed to argue that Governments are completely detached from us as individuals. This makes no logical sense as the government is made up of individuals, and we as individuals put them there in the first place! 
In our second round CX, I asked PRO the following:

CON: I'm interested to understand your inference that government is detached from individual. 
God tells individuals not to steal, is it fair to assume he also prefers governments not to steal? 
God tells individuals to care for the weak. Is it fair to assume that he also prefers governments to care for the weak?
God tells us to show mercy and leave vengeance to him, is it fair to assume he also prefers governments to do the same? - Round 2 CX

You can read PRO's answer for yourself, but he replies with a "YES" to the first two questions. In the last question he ignores the part about showing mercy and answers "YES" to part about leaving vengeance to God! He's quick to point out that the Government is the means by which God intends to dish out His vengeance.
This makes no logical sense. 
Who decides which instructions God intends for individuals and which one He intends for Governments? Since some governments mete out punishment for things which God considers righteous, (such as Daniel and company refusing to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Statue in Daniel 3) how are we to know whether the Government's laws are ADVOCATED for by God, or simply allowed?

Why did I win this point?
PRO revealed that their reasoning was completed flawed. There was no explanation for the fact that God's will is very specific when He is talking to individuals, and that most but not all of these principles also apply to governments. It would appear that when choosing which parts are aimed at both and which are aimed solely at one, my opponent is the sole source of authority. 
I didn't need to do much here. Logic dictates that the most reasonable explanation is most likely the accurate one. God has established Governments and commanded us to recognize them as authority. For this reason we don't subscribe to vigilantism and anarchy. However, there is no logical reason to assume that:
a) Governments are never wrong.
b) Governments are perfectly in line with God's will.
c) God's will applies to us but not to us when we are in Government.

Is Mercy a stance that God advocates?
Or does He favor, as my opponent does; "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth"?
In my second round CX, I brought up the Parable told by Jesus in Matt 18: 21-37. Commonly referred to as the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, this story tells of a servant who goes to his master owing him a lot of money. It's a debt that he can't pay back so he begs for mercy and his master forgives him the debt. This illustrates the relationship between us and God. We have sinned against him, and he forgives us the repercussions of our debt. 
It would be nice if the story stopped there, but it doesn't. The servant then goes out to another man who owes HIM money and demands it back. When the man begs for mercy, the servant cruelly refuses and demands payment. When the Master hears of this he is understandably outraged. The servant is thrown into jail until he can pay the Master back what he owes. 

This story comes directly from Jesus, in response to a question form his Disciples. They asked him, "How many times should we forgive someone?" 

My opponent does not disagree that sins are equal in the eyes of God. I've already shown this from the passages in Matthew. The Government has a responsibility of care to its citizens, so it is right and proper that convicted offenders should be safely removed from society - however, as a society we have an opportunity to advocate for mercy here - just as the Master did to his servant. And Matthew 18 tells us that this is God's preferred path for us to take. 

Why I've won this point:
My opponent only recognizes the need for mercy at an individual level. He's shown no verses to support that theory. The only ones he's mentioned which are at all related to this, mention that the Government can be used as a physical extension of God's arm. As I've pointed out countless times, these verses can not be used as a blanket justification for everything the government does!
Logic dictates that the government is merely an extension of the individual. Principles that apply to the individual also apply to the collective. My opponent agrees with this in our second round CX but can give no explanation as to why this one particular scenario should be an exception.
I've pointed out several specific instances where God's opinion on this matter is revealed. Not obscure ones either - literally black and white.
The Bible is clear. Given the mercy we have been shown, we should also show mercy. 

In conclusion:
My opponent had a resolution to defend. He needed to prove, from the Bible, that God advocates for the Death Penalty. This was qualified in the rules as being specifically in the modern practical sense where criminals are being judged for their actions by other Men today. 

The closest he got to defending that resolution was his attempt to argue that Bible doesn't really say anything about it specifically but that since some governments do it, and all governments are appointed by God, then by extension, God most likely is a fan of it. Probably. We think. And if we're wrong, it won't be on us, since we're nothing to do with the Government. 

My side was able to show that Old Testament law from the Noahic and Mosaic covenants was not literally relevant for today, having been superseded by the Messianic Covenant when Jesus came to Earth. 
I was then able to show, with lots of examples, that God's wishes as far as Men judging Men goes were, in fact, very clear. We are to mirror the principles God showed us when WE were forgiven and shown mercy.
By using jail time as opposed to killing them, we are giving them EVERY opportunity to repent, just as God gives us.

Would Jesus pull the switch? 
No. No He would not. 

I thank my opponent for the debate and the Judges for their time. 
This resolution is already negated in most Christian countries around the world, it should be negated here as well. Vote CON! 
  
     

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-06-18 03:52:51
| Speak Round


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The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2015-06-25 01:16:47
dsjpk5Judge: dsjpk5
Win awarded to: Krazy
2015-06-30 16:52:01
adminJudge: admin    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: nzlockie
Reasoning:
This was tough to judge. Both sides did an exceptional job and I've tried my best to explain why I think con won.

As a basic framework for this judgment, I'm somewhat reminded of a distinction I recently heard made by some important bishop or other - the Bible tells people what they SHOULD do. Science, logic etc define what we can do, and the Bible tells us what we should do. That's my basic approach to this debate, and I think, is rather a fateful one. It would have actually been interesting to read some clash on this.

I saw this debate come down to essentially 3 important arguments, which as it so happened, loosely correlate to passages from different books of the Bible - what I'm terming the "Romans" argument (do as your govt says), the "John" argument (Jesus didn't kill some slut), and the more minor "Peter" argument that showed up in round 2 (God wants people to repent not die, except when he decides as a perfect judge).

This debate was pro's burden to prove. Pro's narrative was essentially that God loved the death penalty before the new covenant (everyone agreed up to here), and then decided to give that power to human authorities (as expressed in some letter to the Romans) provided that the human authorities were not acting contrary to some other rule of God's in so doing. The round one setup for this was a little shallow, but sweet and easy to follow - pretty much the opposite of pro by the third round, where he became difficult to follow structurally and sort of came off as ranting.

In general, cases based on such things as complex as the Bible rarely work off one-argument wonders. Narrow approaches to a vast and fairly complex book are fairly easy to play off with cheap debating tactics (an obvious example would be to rebut using a vast number of unrelated passages). Of course you COULD spend your time defending your one argument, but then your opponent can build their case in its place, and you're left looking like you're weak/scrambling. This being said, I really liked pro's first round structure. It's rare to see an opening round in a debate so neat and well-structured.

Con's reply consisted of 2 approaches to tackling the Romans argument:
1. Con argued that the continuation of a strict application of old testament law would be absurd (ie challenging pro to defend the murder of non-Christians). I don't think this argument was pressed hard enough to hold any real weight in this debate, though it was novel. I saw the whole Matthew-based argument against the "eye for an eye" line in a similar light. Besides this, pro's responses to this (though perhaps occasionally a little indirect) were decent.
2. Con argued that there was a difference between what governments CAN do and what the Bible says they SHOULD do. Given my framework, I was kinda always going to accept this. The logical implication of "governments can do capital punishment" and "people should obey governments" is that "people should accept the death penalty", not that "the Bible supports the death penalty". And those distinctions are important. Con said it best with his lines about God using immoral men such as the Egyptian authorities to fulfill his ends - ultimately if the bible doesn't explicitly support it, it's going to be nigh impossible for pro to meet his burden anyway on the basis of this argument.

It was almost an implication of pro's Romans argument that where the government was not doing something very Biblical, it was just for Christians to challenge it - gay marriage was a very prevalent theme in con's argument here. If punishment for evildoers was always just, and governments can use the death penalty, it doesn't follow that the MOST just punishment in every case would be the death penalty. If it isn't the Bible telling us we should use the death penalty and only that we can, then that was conceptually a problem for me in terms of the resolution.

I liked the setup of the John point and the cross-referencing to other passages, emphasizing a kind of unity in the Biblical message (pro did this a lot too, but his references were discredited much more easily by largely being from the time of the old covenant). I also had the Matthew argument linking in to this as well.

In general, I felt con's WWJD approach to John was a little bit rich. On the one hand con went to great lengths to point out Jesus was God and totally different from us all. On the other, con wanted us to follow his example in every instance even when he pretty clearly wasn't making a law. I sort of imagined con trying to walk on water as if that was some sort of commandment for whenever you're in a boat in a storm! Pro made this observation in principle - perhaps not as clearly as this, but his basic response to things was "Jesus wasn't making new laws when he did that". The response was a bit mixed in general though. For example, pro gave numerous other examples of where God made "exceptions". The more "exceptions" you make, the more it looks like a "rule". I get the point of God sparing lives despite both sides agreeing a rule was in force at the time, but I had to think about it a tiny bit to see that, and so the rebuttal doesn't read well, even if sensible. As such I felt a reasonable argument could be constructed that con had the edge in this point, but it wasn't enough to win on its own.

The Peter argument made a little more sense to my heathen mind, and in my view, pro struggled a little more to rebut it. Why this was not con's main point is beyond me. Generally, principle points first, then narrative points. Every narrative can link to a principle, but it's harder to do the reverse. As a result, most of the shortcomings of this point are from con's failure to establish it rather than any weakness in the point itself.

Despite it's lateness pro had two adequate responses:
1. God has already determined he is not the only judge good enough - he determined it in Genesis, and the new covenant does not diminish man's authority as a judge inherently. (At least this is how I read it - pro was difficult to follow structurally in that round in general).
2. Alternatives to the death penalty could provide the same impediment to salvation.
Although I accepted these, I felt these were very practical responses to what was ultimately more of a principled argument - that God's ultimate New Testament plan is mercy and salvation.

As often happens in these kinds of debates, there were other arguments too. Mostly semantic ones. And they were boring & didn't get talked about much anyway, so I ignored them.

I felt con had a partial win on both his points, and pro had a partial win on his point (sorry if either of you are female). On both a balance and a burden of proof level then, this debate falls to con.

Feedback:
Pro: 3 Key things to work on
1. Structure, especially in rebuttal. Give your rebuttals more structure.
2. Summary. One sentence is not a summary for an entire debate.
3. Sources. You see how con used sources? How he quoted things to make himself look smarter, without letting the quotes dominate his case? How he provided links even to Bible verses he quoted and stuff? Not just an obscure reference to a ministry of some sort? Do those things.

Con: 3 Key things to work on
1. As I mentioned earlier, I felt like this debate would have gone better had you started with the Peter argument. Principles first.
2. Watch "introducing" arguments in the final round even though they may have come up previously in passing or in CX (govt distinct from individual). I didn't mark you down for it but it looks a bit like you're grasping at straws.
3. And I'll be honest, some of your quotes could probably have been abridged down to the most relevant bits.

Feel free to ask any questions as always.
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The State sanctioned execution of a convicted criminal should be a sentence supported by Christian society.

In this debate, Biblical reasoning is given extra weight.
Any translation may be used, however, where translations may differ, NASB is considered the "more accurate" translation.