Thoughts About Capital Punishment

Times to forget the human…but who can do it?

Times to deal with the divine…but who can do it?

The pulse-point is execution…one is to happen soon in Texas…guilt is not the question.  Mercy is.

One of those shot, one eye less because of the heinous crime that killed others, has said in so many words, “Executing him will not benefit anyone.”

What about it?

I’m pretty sure—make that positive—if someone murdered those  closest to me—in an act of deliberation and intention, I would soften my opposition to lethal injection.  That’s
the anticipated human factor considered.

But, truth?

Never have been for capital punishment.

For one theological reason, “To take the life of someone is to usurp God’s prerogative.”  Not that God kills.  I don’t believe that.  But, because taking life is not purposive.  Oh, there are reasons…but not any that merit the ultimate decision—to kill someone.

It’s no honor to live in the state that wins the legal injection number every year.  But I
do.  Ah, Texas, bigger and better.

Now, this is not to turn the other cheek.  I remember my favorite notion-resource,
William Coffin, who once said, “How many turn the other cheek so as not to see
the evil?”  That’s good.

And, I remember another Coffin-quote when preaching about the Good Samaritan, when he said, “What should be done beyond helping the wounded man by the side of the road?  The other thing is to high-tail it to the officials and demand they clean-up that
horrible road.”

That’s good.

But.  To take a life of someone who’s taken a life?  One time I had this theory:  Okay, go with lethal injection if it will return the life of the victim.


But, go deeper with me.   The human/divine consideration.

Let me take a biblical step for a moment to make my case.  In Genesis, the creation story in
Genesis One, it says that you and I are “made in God’s image, after God’s likeness.”  My doctoral professor at Eden Seminary in the 80’s, M. Douglas Meeks, brought new insight to that phrase.  He explained, To be made in the image of God is the authorization to represent God.

That has never left me.

And, from this corner of the world, thinking through my fingers tapping on the computer, I am against capital punishment.  Because it is not an Act of God as I consider it.  And, if I [read that, all of us] are to represent God, how can the injection to stop breathing and living be an act of God?

Death can come in its own time.  But a needle changes that.  Of course, the guilty have already done that to someone endeared.  But, somehow that is the human response to get the eye for an eye…can it slow down…and at least let the divine in us catch up?  And, maybe even take the lead?

Something to consider.

A timely postscript:
I write this PS Thursday night, July 21, 2011.  The Texas execution took place as scheduled last night.  Then I read about an execution just an hour ago in Georgia, a man accused in 1993 of murdering his parents and sister.

What I read next in the best terms puzzled…but perhaps more honest, angered.  Another Georgia inmate on death row, however he did this is still unclear, saw to it tonight’s
execution was videotaped…so he could verify that capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment.  The news bulletin then described the two minutes after the injection…actual calm, at which point the execution was successful—eyes closed, the body was still.

Gracious, that’s not even poetic.

And then a final thought…no better, a last thought tonight…not to say this is apt in these two executions, but we’ve all read about the execution of someone who later was declared innocent.  That happens also.  Another cause to keep in mind.

Enough for now.  I’m still opposed to capital punishment.   Needed to share.


About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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