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Jesus never spoke against the Death Penalty. He never made a political statement declaring it “ungodly” or “not Christian.” Actually, if he would have spoken up against it, and then succeeded in changing the Roman law of capital punishment, he would have never gone to the cross!

His ultimate mission would have been ruined. His eternal expression of love, halted and incomplete.

So Today, I Thank God for the Death Penalty!

It was the vehicle that brought our salvation. The law that provided the punishment, so God could provide (Himself) the guilty. And now, we are free to follow Christ.

While campaigning for the presidency, George W. Bush was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly pointed out that Bush had named Jesus Christ as his model political philosopher and suggested that this might be a contradiction with Bush’s own support of the death penalty. Bush replied, “I can’t justify the death penalty in terms of the New Testament. I’m going to justify it in terms of the law…” O’Reilly then stated, “I don’t believe he [Jesus] would be embracing the death penalty if he were here today.” Bush: “We can both agree on this.”

I will join in their agreement.

But I am neither a politician, lawyer or journalist. I am a Christian. And I embrace the message of the Gospel. The good news of redemption, salvation and second chances.

For all.

But today, Kelly Gissendaner is scheduled to be killed. On Tuesday September 29th of 2015, our Christian nation will put her to death. We will put her to death. Her life will end tonight and some will call it justice. It might be revenge.

She was convicted in 1998 of orchestrating a plot to murder her husband, who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend. Once in prison, Kelley enrolled in and graduated from the Certificate in Theological Studies program at Arrendale State Prison. She grew into a new person with purpose and hope. She experienced forgiveness and gained confidence through grace and redemption. She became pen-pals with the famous German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, who came to speak at her graduation. Twelve people testified on her behalf at her clemency hearing last Tuesday, including her prison chaplains, former theology professor, a former inmate, and others. The testimonies of her children, who were literally pleading for the life of their mother, were passionate and gripping.

Jeania Ree Moore writes, “All of these and more are compelling reasons for commuting Kelly’s sentence to life in prison; yet, that has not happened. In spite of such powerful testimony, Kelly was denied clemency and is condemned to die. Someone who has lived the reformation that incarceration ostensibly aims to achieve–rehabilitated, completely transformed–is being put to death. Thus, not only do we see a miscarriage of justice in Kelly’s case; we also see the brokenness of the system…”

Still, today she will die.

And I pray for Kelly, her family and her friends. #KellyOnMyMind

I thank God for the death penalty.

Not hers obviously. But the death penalty that took her Savior to the cross. The one that has brought Kelley peace and redemption. The one that should give us the courage to stop killing our brothers and sisters (guilty or not).

One time Jesus did stop the Death Penalty. His words prevented a woman from being lawfully executed. In John 8, when a sinner was caught in the act of adultery, The Son of God made an invitation to the men who were ready to stone her, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

No one threw a stone. And after the God-fearing-law-adiding-citizens left the scene, Jesus finished his defence by saying to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (READ MORE on this astounding story of grace here.)

The men who wanted to stone her were following the Law of God. The one given to Moses. Righteous, tested and approved. But if we follow the Law of Moses and the Old Testament guidelines in America today, then why are we not also dying with Kelley?

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23

And here are 3 biblical examples why you and I are just as guilty her:

1. For cursing or blaspheming: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.” Leviticus 24:16

2. For disobeying parents: “And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.” Deuteronomy 21:18-21

3. For breaking the Sabbath: “They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. … And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones…. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.” Numbers 15:32-56

These are 3 of many. And that is why Jesus died at the cross. Because we all deserve to die at the cross. We all deserve capital punishment. But Jesus is now our lawyer. So no one should; not anymore.

Not Kelley.

Not today.

Listen to the sounds of the New Testament. These are Kelley’s own words, spoken to her graduating class in 2011:

“I challenge you to step up the next level of your character, growth, and development. In your pit, or prison, receive the word and revelation and act on it; your life will never be the same. I implore you not to allow prison to rob you of your dream or vision, nor of your dignity or self-worth. In all of us, there are untapped abilities. I encourage you to write that book, start that ministry, teach, study, pursue your dream. Know that suffering can be redeemed. There is only one who can bring a clean thing out of something unclean, or turn a tragedy into a triumph, and a loser into a winner. When this miracle occurs, and only through Divine grace, our life is not wasted. When blind eyes are opened, then we all will see the greater purpose. Let us put off hatred and envy and put on love and compassion. Every day.”

Yes, she is guilty. Yes, she is living the consequences of her sins. Yes, we should pray for her husband’s family. Yes, our system is good and the law is fair. Yes, she might even be faking it.

But mercy is better than judgment.

So let’s be properly Pro-Life and Sign the Petition to Stop the Execution of  Kelley. Join the thousands of voices that want this mother, this theologian, this Christian sister, to live.

With hope, I leave you with the wiser words, of wiser men:

– “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” – Gandhi

– “I do not think that God approves the death penalty for any crime, rape and murder included. Capital punishment is against the better judgment of modern criminology, and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

– An above all, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you…” – Jesus

Peace.

 

What do you think? You thoughts and comments are always appreciated. 

Jürgen Moltmann best book – “The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology”.