BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney 8 November 2006


String ‘em up!


Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death for crimes against humanity.  He ordered the brutal murder of 148 men, women and children in 1982.  He is still being tried on further charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.  It is clear just what a despicable man he is.  His sentence raises some difficult questions.  Many, though not all, Christians are, like me, opposed to the death penalty.  It’s not just the all-too-common miscarriages of justice; and it’s not merely the question “Could I snap the trapdoor open and watch him drop?”


Moral objections are the real questions for Christians.  Isn’t execution merely descending to the criminal’s level of inhumanity?  And surely, only God has the right to take away the life that He has given?


Yesterday, a judge at Woolwich Crown Court sentenced Dhiren Barot to at least 40 years in jail for plotting to kill thousands of people in Britain and America.  The admissions made by Barot make it plain that he intended unpardonable murder on a grand scale.   His plans show him to have little or no human decency.  So, as a merciful and civilised nation, we jailed him for the rest of his life. 


St Paul wrote this: Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord[1].


[1] Romans 12:19.  Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 32:35: It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.