Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This past Sunday, on CBS Sunday Morning, we heard Nancy Giles comment on the Republican Party debates.

She began with the statement, “I watched the two Republican Party debates and something weird is going on in the audience.”

Next the scene shifts from her to the moderator who says to Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, “Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times.”  The camera moves to Governor Perry and we hear the audience cheering even before he can reply.  Ms. Giles expresses her shock and dismay:  “Applause for the number of people executed in Texas?”

Next we see Congressman Ron Paul speaking disdainfully of “this whole idea that we have to take care of everybody …”  The moderator says, “But congressman, are you saying that society should just let him (the uninsured person) die?”  And before Ron Paul can even speak there are shouts of “Yeah” and light applause from the audience.

Ms. Giles declares clearly that she hasn’t been to church in years but she does remember the questions, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and “Something about ‘Thou shall not kill.’”

She wants to know why no candidate, “some of whom claim their spirituality as a guiding force in their politics” did not challenge the audience about what she terms their “bloodlust.” ( Both candidates do, I believe, claim to be Christians.)

She remarks on her respect for freedom of speech.  She says that this has nothing to do with party affiliation, but she can’t imagine applauding the idea of death – of either sort mentioned.  She speaks of the fact that many on death row have been proven innocent – even in Texas, where there recently was a stay of execution of one man  because of racist remarks by a psychologist at his sentencing hearing.  She questions Ron Paul’s “do no harm” oath as a doctor.

She speaks of the fact that there “are more colors” in the United States than simply Red States and Blue States and wants to know what the clearance process was for the audience.  She hopes they were not representative of the entire Republican Party.

I’m sure that Ms. Giles will be renounced (or ignored) by many as simply some left-wing basher of Republican candidates (As though they don’t do enough bashing of each other. – Uni).  Or she will be criticized for not speaking up on other issues.  If we can attack her and politicize her moral pronouncements we can feel safe from the demands they place on us!

But though she was critical of the candidates, her main criticism was of the audience and of the candidates’ failure to rebuke their “bloodlust.”

And I’m sure that many of my Bible-loving friends will jump on the fact that Ms. Giles misquoted and/or misapplied both Scripture passages she used.  This will be, for some, a good excuse to ignore what she said.

Well, yes, the Bible doesn’t tell us explicitly that, “We are our brother’s keeper.”  “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was Cain’s reply to the LORD when he was questioned about the death of Abel, whom he had just murdered.  But I believe the implication is that Cain was expected to be his brother’s keeper.  And what about the command to “ … love your neighbor as yourself,” found in Leviticus 19:18 and repeated throughout the New Testament by Jesus and His followers?

And yes, the verb translated “kill” in the KJV “Thou shalt not kill” should be translated “murder” and does not apply to judicial acts or acts of war.  But the LORD Himself said, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11; 18:23, 32).  So how can we?  And Jesus told us that even anger with our brother is murder (Matthew 5:21, 22).

I fear that the reactions of the audience at those debates may be symptomatic of where the blending of politics and religion is taking us.  I fear that many of my Christian friends and acquaintances might have reacted in similar fashion had they been there.  I hope I’m wrong.

Ms Giles admits that her Christianity is at best weak, yet she can somehow see the contradictory behavior of people who claim to be followers of Christ behaving more like those who crucified Him.

Brother and sisters, it ought not to be this way.  I’m afraid though, that whether or not our behavior is similar to that of the audiences, we may be perceived this way, that (as Paul said of the Jews of his day), “The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of (us)” (Romans 2:24).


gary said...

hi again bill. sounds like just some one else taking a shot at the God of the bible and His teachings on capitol punishment. nothing new.
i am sure they don't like the political Lord when He returns either-Rev.19:11-16.some of my favorite stories come from death row when people changed their opinion of jesus christ and trusted in Him alone for eternal life. do you think america is in a post christian era? most have heard and decided for what ever reason-Jesus Christ isn't who He claims to be and the bible can't be trusted. He is so patient with us, full of grace and mercy. but those who refuse- well, one preacher well put it- they will wish they never heard his name.

Preach said...

Brother Gary the Bible says it is better not to know, than to know and refuse. 2Peter 2:21. So I totally agree with you there.

Pastor Bill, I praise God for you sir. I again, am in awe as to how God uses you so wonderfully! If you still have my email, I would be honored to hear from you on a regular basis. To call you another career coach, and ministry blogging mentor. I know that our Sovereign Arranger place our paths together for a reason, and I would be grateful to have you help keep me accountable, and headed in the proper direction sir. I have you email, and can email you later if that is OK? Thanks in advance, and blessings to you and Ms. Uni.

In His strong love,

Bill Ball said...

Gary: We should be careful to not assume that those with whom we disagree are disagreeing with God. I did not hear Ms. Giles "taking a shot at God" or saying anything against Jesus. There are sincere people - Christians - who oppose the death penalty. Her major criticism was of what she call the "bloodlust" of the crowd. Would you have cheered? I don't think so!

Bill Ball said...

Preach: I appreciated your comments and your post on Capital Punishment. You've inspired me to say more. I'll probably get on it in the near future. I can't find your e-mail address, but you can e-mail me by hitting the "contact me" near the top of the page.

gary said...

Sincere Christians? Whenever I get confused I try to go the basics so it is easy to understand. In Dr. Ryrie’s theology book he makes since in a discussion on presuppositions. He states that people operate on presuppositions whether they know it or not. A Trinitarian which all true Christians are, get their believe about their God from only one source –the bible. If we do not believe the source is accurate we cannot believe our god is the only true god. Therefore, a belief in the truthfulness of the bible is a basic presupposition. I speak with many sincere Christians everyday that really don’t believe the facts of genesis are true, that Jesus Christ is the eternal creator God who is truly man and became a human slave to pay for the entire sin debt of mankind and was raised from the dead by one person who declared His Son not to be a liar. However sincere they might be, I really suspect they are heading for the fire which they also don’t really believe in. it is my belief that this is the apostasy that is prevalent now. The fact these essential doctrines are not being taught today can only be blamed on us, the church, because they are repeated all throughout the bible. We are telling people what they want to hear to avoid confrontations and rejection and to gain a hearing. Thus Ephesians 4:11-16 speaks volumes.bill- a challenge to you. go into a christian bookstore and see if you can find a clear grace gospel tract.
i haven't been able too and that is kind of my hobby,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another excellent post.

In the first case, concerning the death penalty, I find nothing to cheer about.  Even in an apparently clear cut case like the Oklahoma City bombing when Tim McVay was executed, while perhaps appropriate, there was nothing to cheer about.  I thought a lot about his father.  With 234 executions in Texas, we can be reasonably certain that a few innocent people were executed.  Perhaps some would say we need to kill a few innocents to keep things under control.  Assuming that is true, still, it's nothing to cheer about.

In the second case, I have a good friend who was just diagnosed with advanced melanoma and breast cancer at the age of 40.  She is lucky to have a job that provides reasonably good insurance, but her lifestyle probably contributed to the disease.  Even though I did not agree with lifestyle choices she made, I can not shout to let her die.  Not to her face, not while hiding in a crowd, and not while posting on someone's blog.

Christians are commanded to spread the faith, but do they not understand that actions such as this drive people away from the faith?  When I see events such as those described in this post, I think that these are the same people who gave us the Salem Witch Trials, and the Inquisition.  I am afraid of these people.

Preach said...

The anonymous writer seems to have a compassionate heart, and gives us something to look at... how many innocent died in all those executions. Isn't that murder too? What penalty should the person(s), receive that messed up, or just wanted to be right so bad, that they were willing to do whatever it took to prove it?