(BNC) — For his crime of killing nine black people in a Charleston, S.C., church, Dylann Roof was sentenced to die by a federal jury Jan.10.
Some in the media have protested the sentence, as a part of a long-standing opposition to the death penalty. Others have supported the judgment.
PowerLine’s Paul Mirengoff wrote, “The sentence is obviously just, and it is a reminder of why we need the death penalty. A sentence of life imprisonment would be horribly inadequate in Roof’s case. It would not come close to fitting the crimes.”
A social media poster protested that “killing people” (death penalty) is not the way to affirm the sacredness of life.
But that is exactly what the Bible affirms.
Human life is precious and no human being has the right to deliberately cause the death of another. After God destroyed all humanity except for eight people, he set down this great and lasting principle to Noah and to all his descendants.
“From each person I will exact punishment for the life of the individual since the man was his relative. Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God has made humankind” Gen 9.5-6.
Since human life is sacred, the taking of a life deserves no less than the death of the one who caused it.
The law of Moses reflected this principle. “Whoever strikes someone so that he dies must surely be put to death” Ex 21.12.
The church of Jesus Christ is not a national institution, as was Israel, so it has no mandate for such actions, but God did place in government the responsibility to maintain the peace and to punish evildoers, including the task of capital punishment.
Paul declared that government “is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer” Rom 13.4.
The sword in this verse represents government’s right to administer punishment that includes the death penalty. The sword is an instrument of war and death and indicates “to have the power of life and death” (Mounce).
In his New Testament Commentary, Jim Sheerer wrote,
The sword represents not only the badge of authority, but also the method by which much punishment was carried out. The state has the right to punish the evil doers including the death penalty. The sword throughout the New Testament is associated with death as the instrument of execution (Matthew 26.52; Luke 21.24; Acts 12.2; 16.27; Hebrews 11.34,37; Revelation 13.10) (Yeomen Press, 2001).
The death penalty for Dylann Roof, therefore, is wholly justified and appropriate. It affirms that the lives of the nine people that Roof took by violent means were precious in the sight of God.