The senseless murders we have seen in recent times have sparked discussions in many quarters to bring back the death penalty, for those who for no reason whatsoever, just take the life of another person. At the same time, as was witnessed last week Monday on the popular GBN program, Beyond the Headlines, the representatives who are advocating on behalf of the Child Protection Authority, sent the message loud and clear for the abolition of corporal punishment. However, Pastor Stanford Simon who was also a member of the panel but took a different position did not hesitate to point out what the Bible clearly states about the issue of corporal punishment. He reminded the panel, listeners and viewers that parental discipline is often misused and misunderstood. Proverbs 13:24 says “He that spareth the rod, hateth his son, but he that loveth him, chasenth him betimes”. Love will be selfish, and indeed no love at all, when it permits a child to take the path that leads to destruction. A parent or schoolteacher or any responsible adult who is, in fact, accountable to God for a child, who practices biblical discipline, will do whatever has to be done in order to bring out the best in a child.
Corporal punishment has been part of the legal system as one of the punishments for crime and once it is done responsibly and within the confines of the law, should also be accepted as a deterrent for future criminal activities by the recipient.
Therefore, if from childhood, corporal punishment is administered as a form of discipline, when that child becomes an adult, should he or she be now free to commit more hideous crimes like murder and get away or just do some time while taxpayers take care of him or her, or should the punishment fit the crime? The answer is clear, according to some concern citizens, that if the death penalty is not reinstated, we are heading for serious problems. According to a senior citizen, imagine a thirteen-year-old boy took a piece of two by two wood and killed a fifty-something-year-old man in Carriacou for no reason. Just like the last two murders that took place last week. In one case this security guard had enough time to think, since he was working and had to wait until the game was over in order to make his attack, according to sources, on an innocent, quiet young man. In the St. Mark’s killing, it is reported that the alleged perpetrator was even announcing earlier that day that he has a man to go and kill. All these premeditated murders might have been possibly avoided if the criminals knew that they would be facing the death penalty if they chose to take another man’s life.
This issue can be argued from both sides but it is important to note that neither form of punishment should at any time lead to abuse of any sort; neither in the case of disciplining a child nor when the judge passes judgment. Recently a particular traffic magistrate was accused of abusing his powers in his sentencing. Once the administration of such discipline is done correctly and responsibly, according to the views of many persons who were asked to share their views, it should remain as a form of deterrent.
Remember that as a Christian nation, we were and in most cases still are guided by the Bible in most things we do, especially in an important issue like child discipline. This Bible did give us some more guidelines in this regard. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way that he should go so that when he gets old, he will not depart from it”. Such training is not a one-time event and sometimes will have to include corporal punishment, based on the level of disobedience and inconsistencies. Proverbs 19:18 says,” Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying”. Clearly, for there to be crying, there must be some sort of pain or discomfort through some sort of discipline administered by corporal punishment.
Now, in the case of capital punishment, again it must be done with total prudence and one hundred per cent care, since the advocates against this practice ague, and rightfully so, that since this form of punishment is irreversible, there should be no mistakes in the process as it relates to the judgements etc. In fact, there are a number of cases, which turned out to be mistaken identity and wrongful judgement in others, which led to innocent persons getting the death penalty. However, this is indeed not the general case, and like everything else must be done with due care and attention.
So, as to whether capital punishment should be brought back, and whether corporal punishment should be abolished, the lawmakers will decide this. However, it is often said that the voice of the people is the voice of God. The people seem to want them both based on the way in which we are heading. Remember that God himself said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. And one might argue what about forgiveness? The answer is clear, yes, he will forgive us for our wrongdoings, but we must also pay the consequence for that wrong. Remember he called David in the Bible a man after his own heart, and forgave him, but told him that the sword will never depart from his house. And so, while David was forgiven, his son tried to kill him. His son raped his sister and so on. So yes, there is forgiveness, but sin or wrong cannot go unpunished. And so, if it means corporal and capital punishment; once the punishment suits the crime, it is justified.