By Man Shall his Blood be Shed

Genesis 9:5-6  But for your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast; of man, too, will I require a reckoning for human life, of every man for that of his fellow man!  6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, By man shall his blood be shed; For in His image Did God make man.

I am a Texan and I am a Christian. I, however, do not believe that the state of Texas should employ death as a form of punishment. Not having lived in Texas for several years I will refrain from discussing the Willingham case at length. I have not really followed it much so I am not an authority. (Here is a good article by a current Texan and Christian.)

That being said, I will wonder aloud about a dilemma that it seems the executive office (interesting name in this context) of the state of Texas has seemingly found itself. If the basis for capital punishment in Texas is the above quote from the Noah narrative (and despite the ostensible separation of church and state, I bet most adherents to the practice would site that passage or will have intuited its message from cultural osmosis), and the State of Texas put an innocent man to death, then couldn’t one argue that those who obstructed justice or gave the orders to kill Willingham should be put to death by man?

It’s been a while since I’ve researched the various passages in the Bible ordering or condoning capital punishment, but I’m pretty sure that no passage questions the actuality of murder or adultery or any other capital offence when capital punishment is invoked. The culprit may have been brought to trial where the offence is proven, but there is no doubt, in the end, of the offence.

What then, does one do if the wrong person is put to death, or the person is merely not guilty of murder? Apparently, the one responsible for the punishment covers it up. But if we, in the end, have no doubt that Willingham, however anti-social he may have seemed to many, did not commit murder or another capital offence, and we are also sure that someone put him to death even though he was innocent of the crime, do we not have a case of state-supported murder?

If Texas considers murder a capital offence, then what do we do with those responsible for this murder? Put another way, did Rick Perry sign his own death warrant?

Obviously, I think the real answer is to change the law. Eliminate the death penalty from Texas’s laws so we don’t have to face this problem. Nevertheless, Rick Perry should probably get a very long prison sentence.


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