Questions From Readers
● How do Jehovah’s witnesses view capital punishment?—U.S.A.
Jehovah’s Christian witnesses adhere to what the Holy Scriptures present as God’s view of capital punishment. They recognize that Jehovah God, as the Creator of man, has the absolute right to set forth laws that must be obeyed if one is to continue enjoying life. Accordingly, when God determines that certain people merit the death penalty because of their persistent practice of sin, he can rightly take their life. Two notable examples of such capital punishment executed by God are the destruction of disobedient mankind in the Flood and the later destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.—2 Pet. 2:5, 6.
As Lawgiver, Judge and Supreme Sovereign, Jehovah God can also delegate to others the authority to execute lawbreakers. After the flood of Noah’s day, for example, he authorized humans to administer capital punishment for deliberate murder. We read: “Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image he made man.” (Gen. 9:6) The human authority, by executing the murderer, would be acting as “God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.”—Rom. 13:4.
Of course, some may question whether human authorities can rightly execute individuals for acts that God’s Word does not designate as capital offenses. That is a responsibility the governments must bear before God. But there is no Scriptural basis for saying that governments are condemned for prescribing the death penalty for murderers. God’s view is that the person deliberately taking someone else’s life forfeits his own life. Today, however, many governments are abandoning God’s view of capital punishment, this doubtless contributing to increased crime and violence.