"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights", issued by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, states in part that "no one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment." Is it taking one life for another true justice, or legalized murder? The death penalty debate has long been part of our nation's history. And today, more than ever, we are inundated with crime and images of crime. The death penalty is the American legal systems most visible and dramatic criminal punishment - representing and fulfilling our society's desire for vengeance.
The Bible states in Exodus 21:12-17, "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." " .
This may be the earliest indication of the death penalty in the Bible and these verses are giving circumstances where the death penalty would have been required for the people who lived during this crucial time of the Old Testament as they lived under the law. It was unforgiving. Ironically, one of the Ten Commandments s, states "Thou shalt not kill." Likewise, Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:38-42, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. The death penalty remains a controversial issue and there are people who stand on both sides on the issue regarding the death penalty.