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The Analysis of Punishment Based on Deterrence From a Biblical Perspective Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2022

Abstract

The question of the necessity of punishment as a deterrent to crime has been on the minds of many individuals. Law is defined as a set of rules that govern a particular group of people within given jurisdiction such as a state. Law sets out the manner in which people ought to conduct themselves and provides various punishments for those persons who fail to abide by the set rules and regulations.

The different sources of law include the constitution, the parliamentary acts, and delegated legislations etc. However, most individuals hold that the sole source of law of law is God, who is the author of life. This view is held by most religious persons. Punishment has been used as a remedy for breaking the law and as a deterrent to crime. As such, Christians widely believe that God is the sole source of law who should determine the punishment for breaking laws that he has set. This research paper will analyze punishment based on deterrence from a biblical perspective.

Introduction

The question that rings in many people’s minds is whether punishment is a deterrent to crime. Most individuals hold that capital punishment acts as a lesson to individuals who intend to commit related crimes (Franz, 1929). Once criminals see other criminals undergo punishment, they become cautioned from engaging in criminal activities (Isaac, 1975). There are other groups of Christians who claim that the bible clearly says that vengeance belongs to God as a human being has does not have the authority to punish. Whatever view one has, it should never make him/ her confuse the personal views with the word of God.

The Bible is divided into two distinct sections which display two different dispensations; the Old Testament and the New Testament. A look at the Old Testament reveals that God issued laws which were referred to as Mosaic laws. These laws offered remedies for sinning most of which was death. There was however a classification of sins based on their magnitude. Simple acts of transgressions were dealt with by sacrifices. However, some sins had an express death sentence.

The New Testament came with the birth of Jesus Christ and the Mosaic Law was replaced by God’s grace which is defined as the God’s unmerited favor to mankind. The main message in the New Testament is that the goodness of God leads to repentance. This seeks to indicate that punishment does not act as a deterrent to crime.

Old Testament provision of Punishment

Throughout the Old Testament God gives express laws which give capital punishment as remedies. This is always aimed at warning people from engaging in activities that will break the God given laws. The first major example of capital punishment in the bible is during the times of Noah when God destroyed the whole world apart from Noah’s family for lack of obedience. Other examples include the Sodom and Gomorrah being burnt down by fire for acts of perversion.

The question is therefore whether according to the bible, punishment can be used as a deterrent factor. Many would support the idea that God allowed punishment as a deterrent to crime. Some of the mosaic laws provided the manner in which people ought to behave failure to which punishment was to befall them. Some of the means of punishment according to the New Testament included death by stoning, excommunication, expulsion, isolation and so on. It is therefore clearly seen that biblically, in the Old Testament punishment was used as a deterrent to crime.

New Testament Provision of Punishment

It can be argued that in the New Testament, the Mosaic Law was replaced by the grace of God. This simply means that God withholds his wrath on mankind and awaits them to repent and turn from wickedness. A case in the New Testament is When Jesus was petitioned to judge a woman who was caught in adultery. The Law of Moses provided death by stoning. However, Jesus refused to convict her but instead set her free. This is a perfect example for many modern day Christians who seek to know more about what God has to say when dealing with sin.

A claim will however be brought on the increase in the rate of crime in the modern day society. The New Testament does not expressly forbid punishment for crimes performed. What it proposes is that punishment should not be used as a deterrent to crime. Instead it proposes a more friendly approach to correcting criminals which is love. The Bible says that the goodness of god leads to repentance. As such it is the duty of all Christians to show compassion to all individuals and practice unconditional love just as God Himself loved human beings.

The bible exhorts individuals to respect the set authority as it says that all authority exists with God’s permission. Authority is therefore seen as a God’s agency on earth that is charged with the responsibility of enforcing law and order. Authority therefore bears the powers to exercise punishment on any individual who breaks the law. While many people would want to see punishment as a deterrent to crime, the bible expressly states that it is the goodness of god that leads to repentance.

Effectiveness of Capital Punishment as a Deterrent to Crime

Over time, capital punishment has been used as a severe remedy for crime. Most crimes which are stated in countries’ penal code attract harsh punitive measures such as life imprisonment or even worse, death sentence. These crimes include murder, robbery with violence, rape, and other felonies. Once an individual is handed a death sentence, others would be keen to avoid doing whatever crime landed him the sentence. As such, this becomes a deterrent to crime.

Conclusion

From this result, it may be reasonable and even desirable to have capital punishments on particular crimes. This would successfully serve to deter criminals from engaging in criminal activities. It should however be noted that using punishment as a deterrent to crime only helps the potential victims and leaves the culprits with the same criminal mindsets they had. This is the sole reason why the Bible offers a culprit focused solution to crime. This can be seen in the example of Jesus going to dine with Zacheous, who was a tax collector and used his position to steal from people.

Jesus’ simple act of Kindness enables Zacheous to repent and pay back all the money that he had stolen. Using the biblical example, it is evident that while capital punishment is not prohibited, it should not be used as a deterrent to crime. Christians should as such be compelled by the Love of God to help those who are caught in the bondage of crime to quit and change their behavior.

References

Franz, A. (1929). The Need for Punishment and the Death-Instinct. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis , 256-69.

Isaac, E. (1975). The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death. American Economic Review , 135-69.

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IvyPanda. "The Analysis of Punishment Based on Deterrence From a Biblical Perspective." September 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-analysis-of-punishment-based-on-deterrence-from-a-biblical-perspective/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Analysis of Punishment Based on Deterrence From a Biblical Perspective." September 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-analysis-of-punishment-based-on-deterrence-from-a-biblical-perspective/.

References

IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Analysis of Punishment Based on Deterrence From a Biblical Perspective'. 14 September.

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