Is it a violation of the sanctity of human life to execute a murderer?
The sacredness of human life is at the very heart of the difficult question of capital punishment. Many feel that this sacredness is best protected by imposing capital punishment on those who commit murder—or at least particularly heinous acts of murder.
More states are now adopting this position. On the other side are those who feel that this sacredness of human life would be violated by the exercise of capital punishment. They also cite cases where a person is later discovered to have been innocent of the crime for which he was executed. Some Christians oppose capital punishment because of the hope that, given enough time, a criminal may come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life.
Biblical passages such as Genesis 9:6, Numbers 35:16, and Romans 13:3-4 have been used to support capital punishment. At the same time, passages such as Romans 2:1-4 and 2 Peter 3:9 speak of the awesome responsibility of human judgment and the riches of God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience,” intended to lead all people to repentance.
Some have used the commandment translated in the King James Version of the Bible “Thou shalt not kill” as a prohibition of capital punishment. The commandment, however, refers to murder and is accurately translated “You shall not murder” in modern translations.
Mr. Graham realizes that the basic problem underlying capital crimes is the sinful heart of the individual. Until the human heart is changed society will continue to face the dilemma of how to respond to terrible crimes. Because of this, he is giving his entire time to proclaiming that lives can be radically and permanently changed only through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.