Friday, September 23, 2011

How can God love us all the same?

I am hooked on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books. With my Kindle, it is too easy to just download the next book as soon as I’ve finished the last one. It’s like Criminal Minds: They start the next episode as soon as the last one ends and I get stuck staying up watching television longer than I had planned.
The appeal of the books and the show is that the really horrible people always get caught—often killed—by the good guys and the world is left a better place. I cheer. Those people deserved it; I love the good guys.
I do know the difference between fiction and reality, but what about the death penalty? In real life, it should not be in our power to decide who lives and who dies.
I was mentally and emotionally immersed in the death penalty this past week – mostly around Troy Davis, the Georgia inmate who lost his last appeal and was murdered on Sept. 21. His execution drew international attention, with more than 1 million people signing petitions calling for clemency. After all the protests, prayers and hopes, he was killed by the state at 11:30 p.m. EDT.
In the same week, Texas carried out two executions without too much notice. I think what drew so much attention to Davis was that slight glimmer of a doubt that he was guilty. Seven of the nine people who said they witnessed him shooting a Savannah, Ga., police officer withdrew or recanted their testimony. That shadow of a doubt should have been enough to keep him from the death penalty, but that is really just my personal opinion. Death is the one thing you can’t take back.
I am glad The United Methodist Church has been a leader in trying to eliminate the death penalty in the United States since 1956. Many United Methodists participate in the debates and vigils, and in the halls of justice when the death penalty is debated in their states.
I wrestle with the belief that God loves us all equally. That God loves “the bad guys” as much as God loves the "good guys."
I do know the truth from fiction. I know that no matter how much more I think some people deserve redemption, so does every other person in this world.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts. I, too, wrestle with that tension. In 1989, I read a column by Jamie Buckingham that caused me to reconsider how I viewed the death penalty. I blogged about it this week:

  2. Where does one draw the line on who lives and who dies? We, as a society, have devised a series of laws that, if followed correctly, outlines what constitutes a capital offense. Sadly, those laws are flawed and some fall through the cracks and are wrongly executed. On the opposite side there are those who are guilty and walk away unpunished, in the eyes of society. There is a jury process that finds the defendant innocent or guilty and a separate jury process for sentencing of the death penalty. Then the appeals process that will take years and sometimes decades to accomplish. Where the person convicted can still plead for his or her innocence. Only at the end of the appeals process can a person be executed. I believe a person is given more than adequate time to prove their innocence. There are a multitude of factors that make up the death penalty argument. Personally, I believe that the death penalty is a necessary deterrent to those that may consider a capital crime. Just like prison is a deterrent for others to break the law; or a fine is a deterrent for speeding. This is an issue that will forever be argued. Until Jesus returns, there will be no peace.