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Death penalty

Bizzlebin

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So you are claiming Gen 9:6 mandates execution for accidental killing, not just for murder, simply because the word rasah (and/or its cognates) is not used in Genesis? This would put the Law of Moses in the role of contradicting or violating Genesis 9:6, since the Law precludes any penalty of death in the case of accidental killings.

As far as I know no academic or traditional source has ever made this claim. Do you have a source for that claim or is that your own idea?

Early Jewish and Christian interpretation regarded the legal sections of the Pentateuch as formalizing the retributive principle of of Gen 9:6 rather than contradicting or reversing it.
I'm actually fairly open to what "require" might mean, as some saints (eg, St John Chrysostom) took a legal approach while others did not. I think there is a very allegorical interpretation possible here, though a legal principle that was able to disentangle intent (which is never provable and easily falsifiable) from act would be an excellent consolation prize. As for animals, they're not capable of murder, as such, since they are sensitive but not rational (using the vegetative -> sensitive -> rational model), and yet they're included in the "require"-ment in 9.5 . Thus, it cannot be talking merely about murder here. This in no way means it "contradicts" the Mosaic law, which is well-known to diverge from the Noahic covenant (eg, 9.3), to say nothing of the later so-called Noahide law.

As for the Fathers, I'm not sure how one could come to another conclusion. St John Of Damascus seems to write along these lines. St Ephraim The Syrian has an interesting theory that this is so important that even the animals will have to "return all they ate"! And the portions I have from St John Chrysostom make a point about murder, but that seems to be more part of his stylistic preaching, as he does not [in the snippets I have] exclude other forms of lifetaking. So I don't get why you've said no "traditional source" says these things, when it seems pretty clear that the Fathers don't ignore the non-murder cases. It's just about everywhere I've looked.
 

Bizzlebin

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We did not create life, and we have no right to snuff it out.
I think this was addressed with some historical and/or Patristic material already, but I wanted to take a stab at it more forcefully (pun intended). When I see this, it is a big red flag. Because, even apart from the modernistic "rights" language, it doesn't pass the "sniff test".

The fact is, we create and destroy life all the time. If we limit it to human life, we create and destroy that, too; it forms a part not only of the commandments and our holy mysteries, which are given by God, but is part of daily human existence. For example, how many of us were created by other human beings through conception and birth? That would be everyone, ever—even our Lord Jesus Christ (perhaps we can except Adam and Eve, kinda sorta). And every day, we either sustain or refuse to sustain that life. We have to continually breathe, drink, eat (and pick what we eat), move, and the rest time and time again, else we die. This power extends to those around us: we have that power over kids, relatives, and many other people, at different times, due to various life circumstances. This isn't even a specifically Orthodox POV—this is just what it means to be created. It could be argued what degree this particular power comes more specifically from Jesus Christ's Incarnation and via His union with our nature, but the fact remains that we have that power, one way or the other. And by the same token that we create life (or not) and sustain life (or not), we end life (or not).

There is certainly a lot to be said about the correct manner to do these things—I think that is part of the point of the thread. But there can be no question that we inevitably do these things—and we might as well do them willingly, with God's help, because we'll be doing them one way or the other. So the discussion should not ever be about "if" we should take a life generally, but the real questions of "when", "how", and "why".
 

xariskai

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I'm actually fairly open to what "require" might mean, as some saints (eg, St John Chrysostom) took a legal approach while others did not. I think there is a very allegorical interpretation possible here, though a legal principle that was able to disentangle intent (which is never provable and easily falsifiable) from act would be an excellent consolation prize. As for animals, they're not capable of murder, as such, since they are sensitive but not rational (using the vegetative -> sensitive -> rational model), and yet they're included in the "require"-ment in 9.5 . Thus, it cannot be talking merely about murder here.
This in no way means it "contradicts" the Mosaic law, which is well-known to diverge from the Noahic covenant (eg, 9.3), to say nothing of the later so-called Noahide law.
As for the Fathers, I'm not sure how one could come to another conclusion. St John Of Damascus seems to write along these lines. St Ephraim The Syrian has an interesting theory that this is so important that even the animals will have to "return all they ate"! And the portions I have from St John Chrysostom make a point about murder, but that seems to be more part of his stylistic preaching, as he does not [in the snippets I have] exclude other forms of lifetaking. So I don't get why you've said no "traditional source" says these things, when it seems pretty clear that the Fathers don't ignore the non-murder cases. It's just about everywhere I've looked.
No father ever posited Gen 9:6 mandates execution of humans by humans for accidental killing.
Still waiting for a single unambiguous example of someone besides yourself affirming that, Full quotation please.

Yes Mosaic law would contradict such an alleged mandate (if it was not a figment of your imagination) because it prohibited that.
 
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Bizzlebin

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No father ever posited Gen 9:6 mandates execution of humans by humans for accidental killing.
Still waiting for a single unambiguous example of someone besides yourself affirming that, Full quotation please.
I think we're talking past each other, as you are asking me to provide proof for something I've not claimed here. I also think you may be mixing up a key point: "shall" vs "must". This leads to very divergent understandings of the passage.

The first ("shall") can be read as a statement of fact: if you add 2 and 2, you shall have 4 . There is no mandate for people to make the number 4 . There is no law that needs to be written to ensure 4 is made. And there is no legal repercussion for someone that sucks at adding—maybe just some more education. In a similar way, we can read Genesis 9 as being about what *does* happen, regardless, when blood is shed. I understand this to be what the Fathers are teaching. This is reflected in the quotes I've found, including this fuller context from St John Of Damascus (Exact Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith: 4.27: http://www.orthodox.net/fathers/exactiv.html#BOOK_IV_CHAPTER_XXVII), as per your request, which is very "matter of fact" about the whole thing rather than imperative (and which oddly mentions Moses instead of Noah...translator copy error?):

St John Of Damascus said:
"
Nay, the divine Scripture bears witness that there will be a resurrection of the body. God in truth says to Moses after the flood, Even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, for his blood his own shall be shed, for in the image of God made I man. How will He require the blood of man at the hand of every beast, unless because the bodies of dead men will rise again? For not for man will the beasts die.
"
The second reading ("must") would be a command: if you add 2 and 2, you *must* get 4, "or else...!". That would change the meaning of the verse dramatically; it would also dramatically impact any allegorical reading, which I think would be the truer reading here. I recall seeing Fathers write about the Mosaic law requiring execution (the "must"), which I don't dispute either, but that is a mighty different thing than saying the Noahic covenant requires it. Maybe a Father does say that the Noahic covenant "mandates execution", as you put it; I don't know. But that bit of evidence is on you to provide.

Yes Mosaic law would contradict such an alleged mandate (if it was not a figment of your imagination) because it prohibited that.
I'm not sure why you're intent on calling that a contradiction, as if it is some important point; call it what you like. As I hinted at with my "nod" to 9.3, the Noahic covenant tells us we can eat anything at all (9.3), minus its blood (9.4). Yet the Mosaic law says differently. I don't think the Fathers had any trouble recognizing that difference in diet—not the "formalization" of one in the other. And I likewise don't think the Fathers had any trouble recognizing the difference on the point of shedding human blood—not the "formalization" of one in the other.
 

Fr. George

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The death penalty is a hard thing to wrestle with. While I'm not in favor of it - especially nowadays, when imprisonment is easier and cheaper than the legal process for execution - the Scriptures provide for it with a few specific purposes in mind:
  • As a deterrent, demonstrating the severity of certain types of sin (which, generally speaking, affect more than the individual sinner themselves) - especially idolatry, sexual immorality (which was also idolatry), and murder
  • Protecting the innocent from deliberate unrepentant ongoing harm.
  • Protecting the sinner from heaping more iniquity upon themselves.
  • Protecting the sinner and community from the harmful effects of their sin encountering God's holiness (when He dwelt in their midst).
All of these are possible knowing that the death penalty doesn't equate to the eradication of the individual, but the death of the physical body (and the continued existence of the soul). And they are all applied, not as punitive actions, but as corrections and measures of justice (restoring the balance that God intended for the world).
 

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The death penalty is a hard thing to wrestle with. While I'm not in favor of it - especially nowadays, when imprisonment is easier and cheaper than the legal process for execution - the Scriptures provide for it with a few specific purposes in mind:
  • As a deterrent, demonstrating the severity of certain types of sin (which, generally speaking, affect more than the individual sinner themselves) - especially idolatry, sexual immorality (which was also idolatry), and murder
  • Protecting the innocent from deliberate unrepentant ongoing harm.
  • Protecting the sinner from heaping more iniquity upon themselves.
  • Protecting the sinner and community from the harmful effects of their sin encountering God's holiness (when He dwelt in their midst).
All of these are possible knowing that the death penalty doesn't equate to the eradication of the individual, but the death of the physical body (and the continued existence of the soul). And they are all applied, not as punitive actions, but as corrections and measures of justice (restoring the balance that God intended for the world).
I do think that the above (which are my observations about the Death Penalty viz-a-viz the OT) don't inhibit us from saying:
  • As individuals, we should always seek to turn the other cheek when threats affect only us
  • We should defend the weak, powerless, widowed, orphaned, poor, stranger, hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned
  • Christian-run societies with modern technology don't need to use the Death Penalty when other deterrents are fully available (including lifetime imprisonment without possibility of parole) and generally more cost effective (considering the necessary legal protections for the possibly innocent that make the death penalty hard to enact in our civilization).
And we really cannot understate the last point - despite all the advancements in technology which provide for more thorough investigation of evidence, we still have a significant number of wrongful convictions, and we as a society will be called to account some day for each innocent put to death.
 

xariskai

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There is no mandate... we can read Genesis 9 as being about what *does* happen, regardless, when blood is shed.

I recall seeing Fathers write about the Mosaic law requiring execution...but that is a mighty different thing than saying the Noahic covenant requires it ... that the Noahic covenant "mandates execution"..
Genesis 9:6b "By a human (בָּֽאָדָ֖ם) shall his blood be shed"
Not "by time or happenstance or providence his blood will be shed."
Something a human was at that time being directed to do.

Whoever sheds the blood of a human [שֹׁפֵךְ֙ דַּ֣ם הָֽאָדָ֔ם]
by a human shall his blood be shed [בָּֽאָדָ֖ם דָּמֹ֣ו יִשָּׁפֵ֑ךְ]
for in (his) image God made mankind [כִּ֚י בְּצֶ֣לֶם אֱלֹהִ֔ים עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הָאָדָֽם]

Really I can only regard your replies as ad hoc and incompetent.
 
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xariskai

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I do think that the above (which are my observations about the Death Penalty viz-a-viz the OT) don't inhibit us from saying:
  • As individuals, we should always seek to turn the other cheek when threats affect only us
  • We should defend the weak, powerless, widowed, orphaned, poor, stranger, hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned
  • Christian-run societies with modern technology don't need to use the Death Penalty when other deterrents are fully available (including lifetime imprisonment without possibility of parole) and generally more cost effective (considering the necessary legal protections for the possibly innocent that make the death penalty hard to enact in our civilization).
+++
 

Bizzlebin

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Genesis 9:6b "By a human (בָּֽאָדָ֖ם) shall his blood be shed"
Not "by time or happenstance or providence his blood will be shed."
Something a human was at that time being directed to do.

Whoever sheds the blood of a human [שֹׁפֵךְ֙ דַּ֣ם הָֽאָדָ֔ם]
by a human shall his blood be shed [בָּֽאָדָ֖ם דָּמֹ֣ו יִשָּׁפֵ֑ךְ]
for in (his) image God made mankind [כִּ֚י בְּצֶ֣לֶם אֱלֹהִ֔ים עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הָאָדָֽם]

Really I can only regard your replies as ad hoc and incompetent.
I don't disagree that it says "by a human". That is not something I have challenged, but is rather *key* to the proper, allegorical, Christic understanding! On the other hand, I still have no answer to the question of "shall" vs "must", which I think parallels the statement of fact in Genesis: 2.17 and the Orthodox vs "Western" approach there of "God says you will die." vs "God will vengefully/justly/whatever kill you.". I've provided Patristic testimony towards this, and provided more upon each of your requests. I'm still waiting for you to provide *any* Patristic evidence—particularly from the broad consensus of Fathers that do not view 2.17 as a "mandate"—that 9.6 is any different, and thus somehow a mandate.
 

Bizzlebin

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I do think that the above (which are my observations about the Death Penalty viz-a-viz the OT) don't inhibit us from saying:
  • As individuals, we should always seek to turn the other cheek when threats affect only us
  • We should defend the weak, powerless, widowed, orphaned, poor, stranger, hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned
  • Christian-run societies with modern technology don't need to use the Death Penalty when other deterrents are fully available (including lifetime imprisonment without possibility of parole) and generally more cost effective (considering the necessary legal protections for the possibly innocent that make the death penalty hard to enact in our civilization).
And we really cannot understate the last point - despite all the advancements in technology which provide for more thorough investigation of evidence, we still have a significant number of wrongful convictions, and we as a society will be called to account some day for each innocent put to death.
I think the purposes you highlight in your previous post are all correct; however, they're all very practical, meaning that they lack a revelatory component. I would add, at minimum, that the death penalty must be understood as an iconic action, an icon that we would lose forever should more "practical", economic, and humanistic considerations take over. After all, it isn't that the death penalty is being abolished in the most Gospel-centric lands by practicing Christians who want more and more Jesus, but in the most atheistic, humanistic, and secularized ones—this should clue us in as to what is behind the change, without constraining us from being able to argue against specific implementations of the death penalty (particularly its tendency to be imposed in statistically unjust ways).

I cannot fully get behind this post's conclusions, however. First, the turning of the cheek is not limited to individual harm, which is a philosophy that seems to me more related to John Stuart Mill than Jesus Christ; take, for instance, the groups of martyrs that did not "defend" each other but went as a group to witness for our Lord. Second, we are told to clothe the naked, go to those in prison, etc (cf Matthew: 25.34–36), but this is a very different call than using the power of physical force, of legislation, or other out-of-the-Church's-scope tactics to enforce; if anything, Christ did not defend them so much as *united* Himself to them, which I think is the deeper gist of those commands (cf Matthew: 25.40). Third, I don't think we can look at the death penalty strictly as a deterrent; rather, as in my first paragraph, there are a whole host of theological principles that are true regardless of our level of technology, of cost, or of effectiveness. I, too, hope that wrongful convictions can be caught, overturned, and/or prevented more and more, yet the inevitability of mistakes does not undermine the death penalty any more than it does any other penalty—incarceration, caning, etc—none of which can be fully "undone" either.
 

sestir

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After all, it isn't that the death penalty is being abolished in the most Gospel-centric lands by practicing Christians who want more and more Jesus, but in the most atheistic, humanistic, and secularized ones—this should clue us in as to what is behind the change [...]
On this, my perception contradict yours exactly.

In 2016 the most executions happened in:
#1. China (Atheism) 1,000+
#2. Iran (Islam mixed with Atheism) 567+
#3. Saudi Arabia (Islam) 154+
#4. Iraq (Islam) 88+
#5. Pakistan (Islam) 87+
#6. USA (Christianity mixed with Atheism) 20
#7. Somalia (Islam faithfully) 14
#8. Bangladesh (Islam) 10
#9. Malaysia (Islam) 9
#10 Afghanistan (Islam) 6

Bizzlebin, isn't it mostly Islam and Atheism in the top? Increased support for death penalty is a sign of islamization.

More importantly, if you look at the map, you see the countries which have death penalty are all in areas where the climate is very favourable to human life and they all have huge numbers of citizens/capita. So it isn't all about philosophy but much about reality.

When the death penalty was abolished in Europe, some Christians of various affiliations cited Hebrews 6:4-6 with about the same intention as Stinky expressed earlier in this thread, that if we were to keep death penalty, lots of "our most exemplary citizens" (that is: saints in the making) would be executed. I had always assumed that Orthodox use crucifixes and icons much to convince atheists and agnostic bystanders that too many saints have been killed already. Were I mistaken and is the Orthodox position Hyperignatian (always look on the bright side of death) and directly suicidal?

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (ESV)
 

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I think the purposes you highlight in your previous post are all correct; however, they're all very practical, meaning that they lack a revelatory component. I would add, at minimum, that the death penalty must be understood as an iconic action, an icon that we would lose forever should more "practical", economic, and humanistic considerations take over.
I'm not sure you and I can agree on this use of "iconic." The death penalty (and death itself) are real and imminent, insofar as they affect one's ability to repent and represent the unnatural separation of what were intended to be united in eternity (body and soul). The real icon that you're looking for is exile, which would imitate death in the separation from the presence of God and His people; in this sense, the exile from Paradise was both iconic (in that it represented what our sins would do to us) and imminent (a real separation from God), and this carries over to the ambiguity in language regarding the consequence of being "cut off from the people" for certain offenses under the Law. Imprisonment without parole is indeed iconic of death in that the person will never have the chance to rejoin society, and is instead forced into an ascetical life to atone for this with tears and contrition.

Also, expanding on the iconic vs imminent point for a moment - the points I raised in the earlier post about the purposes of the death penalty are both iconic and practical. Protection and prevention don't just reflect the two great commandments - but for Israel (and especially between the original Pascha and the end of Joshua's life) they also were necessary in an urgent way, since they dwelt in the presence of the Living God (through the presence of the Spirit/Name, and the Son/Angel of the Lord/Word of the Lord). While they were expecting an earthly Paradise, they had indeed begun to participate in Paradise when the Lord dwelt in their midst, leading them and guiding them, fighting for them and resting with them. But they needed to be protected from their own sins, which would be consumed in the presence of God's holiness, and so a life under the law (as God intended it) and constant repentance were critical, and willful disobedience in the direction of the sins that stain the land (murder, idolatry, consuming the life of others, and sexual immorality especially - the commandments that were to apply to both Jew and Gentile, resident and visitor) must be dealt with for the preservation of the community.

I cannot fully get behind this post's conclusions, however. First, the turning of the cheek is not limited to individual harm, which is a philosophy that seems to me more related to John Stuart Mill than Jesus Christ; take, for instance, the groups of martyrs that did not "defend" each other but went as a group to witness for our Lord.
I was never interested enough in JSM, so I'm not sure I get the point of the reference. However, the martyrs were not put in the place to defend the innocent - they were put individually (even when rounded up collectively, like the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste) to the choice of apostasy or death; one of their fellow martyrs "defending" them would have blunted their choice and seriously changed the trajectory of the otherwise salvific encounter (not just for them, but for the witnesses). It's only "turning the other cheek" if you're the one doing it - if it's taken out of your control, then it's something else.

Second, we are told to clothe the naked, go to those in prison, etc (cf Matthew: 25.34–36), but this is a very different call than using the power of physical force, of legislation, or other out-of-the-Church's-scope tactics to enforce; if anything, Christ did not defend them so much as *united* Himself to them, which I think is the deeper gist of those commands (cf Matthew: 25.40).
The Church is called to be prophetic, and so is never limited in its scope (only in its control) - but the state is not some mindless independent agent. It is made up of people, and those people have to account for their decision making. If we claim to be Christians, then we have to find Christian ways to accomplish our goals (correction, defense, etc.). Sometimes this means fighting, but often it does not.

yet the inevitability of mistakes does not undermine the death penalty any more than it does any other penalty—incarceration, caning, etc—none of which can be fully "undone" either.
I'm not sure this sentiment can be reconciled with either the Scriptures nor our (at least American) principles of jurisprudence, which would both promote some version of "better to let 99 guilty go free than have 1 wrongly convicted." The Lord is being very deliberate when He says "Vengeance is mine" - He is the only one who can accomplish true Justice. In the meantime, we do the best we can with fear and trembling - and we should look soberly on any method of correction/discipline/justice/etc. that both shortens the time for repentance and actively forces others to sin to carry it out.
 

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On this, my perception contradict yours exactly.

In 2016 the most executions happened in:
#1. China (Atheism) 1,000+
#2. Iran (Islam mixed with Atheism) 567+
#3. Saudi Arabia (Islam) 154+
#4. Iraq (Islam) 88+
#5. Pakistan (Islam) 87+
#6. USA (Christianity mixed with Atheism) 20
#7. Somalia (Islam faithfully) 14
#8. Bangladesh (Islam) 10
#9. Malaysia (Islam) 9
#10 Afghanistan (Islam) 6

Bizzlebin, isn't it mostly Islam and Atheism in the top? Increased support for death penalty is a sign of islamization.

More importantly, if you look at the map, you see the countries which have death penalty are all in areas where the climate is very favourable to human life and they all have huge numbers of citizens/capita. So it isn't all about philosophy but much about reality.
Minus China (which is an interesting case in itself, discussion of which is probably not suitable for this thread), pretty much everything in your top 10 *is* in a religious land, which was my point. Whether or not we regard Islam as a particularly early form of Protestantism or not doesn't change the fact that they are not only religious, but also Abrahamic—and not at all humanists! Good point about the climatic clustering, which is one more reason I get concerned about "statistical injustice" where non-crime-related factors seem to better explain punishment trends—even non-death-penalty ones—more than crime.

When the death penalty was abolished in Europe, some Christians of various affiliations cited Hebrews 6:4-6 with about the same intention as Stinky expressed earlier in this thread, that if we were to keep death penalty, lots of "our most exemplary citizens" (that is: saints in the making) would be executed. I had always assumed that Orthodox use crucifixes and icons much to convince atheists and agnostic bystanders that too many saints have been killed already. Were I mistaken and is the Orthodox position Hyperignatian (always look on the bright side of death) and directly suicidal?
I'm not familiar with the term "Hyperignatian", so can't speak to that. But I've not understood Orthodox veneration of the Cross to be about showing how bad death is or mourning our saints. Rather, it is about showing how good Christ is—and revealing the paradoxical method by which we overcome death.
 

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I'm not sure you and I can agree on this use of "iconic." The death penalty (and death itself) are real and imminent, insofar as they affect one's ability to repent and represent the unnatural separation of what were intended to be united in eternity (body and soul). The real icon that you're looking for is exile, which would imitate death in the separation from the presence of God and His people; in this sense, the exile from Paradise was both iconic (in that it represented what our sins would do to us) and imminent (a real separation from God), and this carries over to the ambiguity in language regarding the consequence of being "cut off from the people" for certain offenses under the Law. Imprisonment without parole is indeed iconic of death in that the person will never have the chance to rejoin society, and is instead forced into an ascetical life to atone for this with tears and contrition.

Also, expanding on the iconic vs imminent point for a moment - the points I raised in the earlier post about the purposes of the death penalty are both iconic and practical. Protection and prevention don't just reflect the two great commandments - but for Israel (and especially between the original Pascha and the end of Joshua's life) they also were necessary in an urgent way, since they dwelt in the presence of the Living God (through the presence of the Spirit/Name, and the Son/Angel of the Lord/Word of the Lord). While they were expecting an earthly Paradise, they had indeed begun to participate in Paradise when the Lord dwelt in their midst, leading them and guiding them, fighting for them and resting with them. But they needed to be protected from their own sins, which would be consumed in the presence of God's holiness, and so a life under the law (as God intended it) and constant repentance were critical, and willful disobedience in the direction of the sins that stain the land (murder, idolatry, consuming the life of others, and sexual immorality especially - the commandments that were to apply to both Jew and Gentile, resident and visitor) must be dealt with for the preservation of the community.
Great point about using exile. I'm working with a project involving reintroducing exile, largely out of scope here, but I agree that exile also has iconic character, solves a lot of practical and pedagogical issues relative to other types of punishment, and has a lot of excellent Biblical precedent; I think it could be a valuable part of our "toolkit". The biggest issue I run into is that few places want to take in exiles "generically" (there are exceptions for asylum and other specific cases), especially without trying to repunish them and thus kind of undermining the practice.

However, death retains an iconic character apart from exile. There are positive reasons, such as allowing the convicted to participate—in a very literal way, kind of like the thieves—in Christ's crucifixion; life in prison removes that. There are also negative reasons, such as what abolishing the death penalty can say about death itself: that we should avoid physical death at all costs (strains of humanism), that Christ's death abolished the need for our deaths (linked to PSA and all sorts of other non-Orthodox teachings), and even that we *fear* death!

I was never interested enough in JSM, so I'm not sure I get the point of the reference. However, the martyrs were not put in the place to defend the innocent - they were put individually (even when rounded up collectively, like the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste) to the choice of apostasy or death; one of their fellow martyrs "defending" them would have blunted their choice and seriously changed the trajectory of the otherwise salvific encounter (not just for them, but for the witnesses). It's only "turning the other cheek" if you're the one doing it - if it's taken out of your control, then it's something else.
Ok, I think we might be mostly in agreement there, then. I would only caution that the "turn the other cheek" need not involve the start-to-finish consent of the turnee: they are given the grace to accept the suffering as suffering in Christ at any point, so the "control" issue is really quite fuzzy. And we have martyric stories involving infants, parents with kids, and entire trapped congregations where the "individual" may also beside the point, so I did not want us to fall into modern philosophy's claims that [modernistic] "free will" and individualism somehow underpin our ability to "turn the cheek", or that we cannot "turn the cheek" beyond our individual selves.

The Church is called to be prophetic, and so is never limited in its scope (only in its control) - but the state is not some mindless independent agent. It is made up of people, and those people have to account for their decision making. If we claim to be Christians, then we have to find Christian ways to accomplish our goals (correction, defense, etc.). Sometimes this means fighting, but often it does not.
This is an interesting topic that gets more deeply into the "What is Church?" question, contrasting it with Kingdom Of God, and so on. I think it is itself prophetic that the Roman/Byzantine Churches, even during ascendancy, marked off clear canonical lines regarding how a communing member was to use force, violence, and death. So I'd suggest that the same person can act in their Church and State capacity (which I believe *should* be an instantiation Kingdom in the same way local Church is an instantiation of Church, despite the failures on our end regarding both) in different ways—without compromising the simultaneous unity of ultimate purpose but difference of temporal methodology between both of them.

I'm not sure this sentiment can be reconciled with either the Scriptures nor our (at least American) principles of jurisprudence, which would both promote some version of "better to let 99 guilty go free than have 1 wrongly convicted." The Lord is being very deliberate when He says "Vengeance is mine" - He is the only one who can accomplish true Justice. In the meantime, we do the best we can with fear and trembling - and we should look soberly on any method of correction/discipline/justice/etc. that both shortens the time for repentance and actively forces others to sin to carry it out.
Yes, it is not a very Enlightenment-friendly idea—which is a good sign, in my book! And I totally agree about true justice only coming from the Trinity, but that justice (occasionally called "vengeance") is God's *regardless*: death penalty, incarceration, caning, spanking, grounding. So, despite those each being quite different and having vastly different temporal effects, the principle still applies to all of them. And the "sin to carry it out" issue also applies here somewhat equally (in that sin is sin), if we are not going to make distinction between murder and execution: for example, how is incarceration not just state-sponsored kidnapping? So again, these arguments, while fascinating, don't really push me to favor another punishment over the death penalty, but rather point to the sobriety which we must have when carrying out *any* punishment, no matter how seemingly small.
 

RaphaCam

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Oh, I've seen this in the past. The research pool really can't have been representative of the general population, maybe it's more representative of the diaspora, probably simply of the politically active diaspora, or maybe it's just bogus for another reason. It simply doesn't make sense.

It can't be a coincidence that the estimated number of Zoroastrians is about 300x higher than the official estimates and 100x higher than the US State Department estimate based on Zoroastrian groups. A research that shows such a high proportion of them can't be taken seriously...
 

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It can't be a coincidence that the estimated number of Zoroastrians is about 300x higher than the official estimates and 100x higher than the US State Department estimate based on Zoroastrian groups. A research that shows such a high proportion of them can't be taken seriously...
For some reason I didn't write everything I intended to, lol. I meant it can't be a coincidence because it's strongly associated to Iranian nationalism.
 

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Here is the first of an 8-part series on capital punishment by Sdn Steve Robinson (of Steve The Builder, Orthographs, etc fame), with both podcasts and transcripts available for each of the 8 parts:


It was linked in the other capital punishment thread (in turn linked from post 10 on this thread) but it is worth posting directly here. Sdn Steve Robinson is 1 of 2 "internet Orthodox" people with years to decades of digital ministry experience that I feel has been consistently Orthodox while being both engaging and approachable (the other being Pr Stephen Freeman). His views on the death penalty evolved quite a bit, from being a pretty strong pacifist to—*because* of his work in prison ministry, social work, and carrying out the Gospel commandments—now supporting capital punishment in limited cases. He's full of zingers like this one:

Sdn Steve Robinson said:
"
So, in the end, we say we fear playing God by taking a life prematurely, before the evildoer has time to perhaps repent. But there are more ways to play God than killing… we can play God by letting people live whom God has commanded to die.
"
Wow! I don't think you have to agree with every conclusion he's come to, but if you're interested in the topic I **strongly** recommend you go through the series. It demolishes many of the common arguments and conceptions—both for *and* against the use of capital punishment—and is a [relatively] short intermediate-level primer on the topic from an Orthodox perspective. Since a lot of those misconceptions continue to pop up on this thread, hopefully his work will quickly bring everyone to a clearer "baseline" from which to further discuss the issues. I look forward to everyone's prayerful ideas as we continue to think about and pray through these topics.
 
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