Capital Punishment: A Capital Crime

Some Catholics and other so-called Christians often use the Old Testament, also known as the Old Covenant or Torah, to justify their actions, especially when it comes to condemning another person even unto death. This happens even as Christ shows us another way to act and specifically tells us that such acts are not allowed.

Some of the most ardent anti-abortion activists that call themselves ‘pro-life’ even support the death penalty and are against programs that promote rehabilitation, independence, and other means of help that would get people out of poverty. But Christ was instructional when it came to all of these matters and His Word is recorded in the Gospels for all.

He makes it clear that capital punishment is a capital crime in the story of A Woman Caught in Adultery (Joh 8:1-11). The Scribes and the Pharisees bring the woman who has been caught in the act of adultery to Jesus as a way to test him that they might have some charge to bring against him for violating Mosaic Law should he not have her stoned to death as the law is written.

When confronted, Jesus replies “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Knowing that they are all with sin and that this is impossible, they all leave…one by one, beginning with the eldest. Jesus asks her, “Has no one condemned you?” Which she replies, “No one, Lord.”

Jesus then says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

Some people, especially feminists, may argue that the Mosaic Law was too harsh for adultery because it was written by men and this penalty was written to control women. Some may even go so far as to say that adultery isn’t a sin or even that sin isn’t real. There’s no point in arguing with people who deny sin or that use distraction to miss the point of the story.

The reality is…when God made His covenant with the Jewish people, He promised to be faithful to them, to never leave them, and His covenant with them was like a marriage and only sin could separate man [and woman] from God. In other words, God considered every sin; an offense against His covenant with His people, yet He promised to be faithful to them and to take them back, if only they would choose to turn away from sin, accept His mercy, and love Him in return (Hos 11:8-9). He even commanded a prophet, prior to the time of Jesus, to do the same with his own spouse (Hos 3:1).

Jesus came into the world to atone for the sins of the world and to teach us how to live. He showed us through His actions and His words that it is never a justifiable act to kill. Killing any person (even yourself) before the person’s natural death goes against God’s commandment not to kill, and it interferes with the person’s ability to respond to God’s grace in this life where they may have repented before they died due to a premature death caused by you.

It’s hypocritical to call yourself a Christian, while also supporting the killing of another through means such as abortion, euthanasia, or capital punishment under any circumstances…no matter how you might ‘rationalize’ your conscience (Mat 5:21). [1] Begging for Christ’s mercy while denying it to another, reveals how much you actually hate God for offering His forgiveness, without limits, and that makes you a murderer (Mat 5:22).

Remember, though, Christ offers His mercy to murderers too and Saint Paul, formerly known as Saul in the New Testament, is one of the greatest examples of all. He went from being a murderer of Christians, to being an apostle and martyr for Christ. He understood that while Christ paid the price for all, we have a price to pay as well, which is why he was steadfast in his letters, even while he was in prison and eventually, put to death, for spreading the Good News, or more precisely, his love for Christ. Be a lover of Christ. He loves you!

Original publication date 12.12.2020. Post last updated on 07.06.2023.


[1] Recommended reading. Richmond, R. (1997-2021). Why go to Church? It’s just filled with hypocrites. Catholic Psychology in association with A Guide to Psychology and its Practice. Retrieved on February 3, 2023, from https://chastitysf.com/q_whychurch.htm

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