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Issue: "American bounty," Nov. 30, 2013

‘Dead seriousness’

Oct. 19  It costs more state and federal tax money to execute a prisoner than to house, feed, and clothe him for the rest of his natural life. For your reasons and this, I now no longer support the general use of the death penalty. Thank you for a great article, sincerely thought-out and well researched.—Craig Borgardt, Racine, Wis.

I think you are wrong about capital punishment. It should be reserved for cases with much corroborating evidence and never taken lightly. But in saying that life in prison is worse than death, you also seem to be appealing to a greater vengeance in continued punishment for decades until the person dies. This is an odd argument for a position that also presents itself as more compassionate.—Brandon Windham, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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We’ve always been in favor of “a life for a life” and had never heard a biblical argument against it that made us ponder until now. Thank you for challenging us to reconsider. There remains the problem of murderers on parole after as little as eight or 10 years.—Marvin & Nancy Richter, Bucklin, Kan.

I was very disappointed by your recent article on the death penalty. You question it as too harsh an infliction, argue that life imprisonment is worse, and then conclude that life imprisonment should be substituted for the death penalty. This is incoherent.—Jonathan Ashbach, Fortuna, Calif.

You missed something about Cain. God Himself tried “no capital punishment.” He put a mark on Cain so that no one would kill him. And yet wickedness got worse and worse, with violence filling the earth.—Cora Pote, Pine Bluff, Ark.

A good article makes you think, and Marvin Olasky’s articles on the death penalty have certainly done that. However, I have some concerns with his take. He argues that God “provides zero examples of killers receiving death penalties.” Is God required to give us examples of executions being carried out before we can believe that He intended death to be the punishment for those crimes?—Daniel Plunkett, Kilauea, Hawaii

In the technologically advanced, affluent West we have no justification to take any life, whether a serial killer, a pre-born baby, or someone in a “vegetative” state. We are too quick to justify ending lives. If this culture of death is to end, we must end it across the board.—Kristyn Hall, Columbus, Mich.

You wrote that the Bible calls for two or three “eyewitnesses” for a capital offense, but the purpose of a “witness” in current jurisprudence is to be an independent line of confirmation. Recorded confessions, DNA analyses, and fingerprint analyses are all witnesses in that sense. Eyewitnesses might be the best kind, but they are not the only kind.—Michael E. Owens, Denver, Pa.

Here is what I would do to stop the killing in its tracks: Execute all murderers, rapists, child molesters, abortionists, etc., immediately—today. Drag them down into the basement of the courthouse and shoot them between the eyes. I want an eye-for-an-eye justice—Roy Bean had it right. Give us justice, give them death. Get out of the way, Marvin.—Doug Gravelle, Vallecito, Calif.

Your essay is very biblical, in the Old Testament and Romans 13 sense. Our human punishments, if informed by God’s, would institute a combination of patience, giving men time to repent; discipline, God’s response to wayward children; and punishment, to make men fear eventual judgment. Cain was guilty, but God wanted him to repent and stop wandering. How good God is. He is the Father, looking for the prodigal to come home.—Deborah Good, San Carlos, Calif.

‘Fleeting images’

Oct. 19  Reading this article about porn addiction was like standing at the tomb of Lazarus before Jesus arrived. We recognize the stench of death, but as Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. … Do you believe this?” If we believe in the resurrection, we should see more than the sin; we should believe that God’s supernatural grace releases the prisoners.—Lindy Walker, Waterford, Va.

The church of “Richard,” the youth pastor addicted to porn, should follow John Piper’s advice to young women wondering about prospective husbands: “If a man can’t control his lust, it’s a deal-breaker.” Our ministers and leaders need to address this issue before we entrust them with the spiritual lives of our families. If there is a problem, they can gracefully be shown the door and pointed toward the nearest Christian recovery center.—Eileen Cushing, Brooklyn Center, Minn.

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