The only legitimate way to evaluate and regulate human behavior is to look to the Creator. He is the One Who, in the words of the Founders of the American Republic, “created” all men, “endowed” them with life, provides them with “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” and who functions as “the Supreme Judge of the world” (Declaration of..., 1776). If human opinion becomes the standard for judging ethical behavior, nothing but confusion, contradiction, and inconsistency can result.
The God of the Universe gave the Law of Moses, which He authored, to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai over three millennia ago. That Law enables people today to gain perspective on the proper attitude toward, and punishment for, criminal behavior. Since God is perfect and infinite in all of His attributes, His directives to Israel concerning proper punishment of unethical human behavior ought to serve as the ultimate model for any nation’s legal system. The Founders certainly accepted this conclusion. For example, Declaration signer John Witherspoon stated that the “Ten Commandments...are the sum of the moral law” (1815, 4:95, emp. added). Sixth President John Quincy Adams wrote:
The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes...of universal application—laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws. But the Levitical was given by God himself; it extended to a great variety of objects of infinite importance to the welfare of men.... Vain, indeed, would be the search among the writings of profane antiquity...to find so broad, so complete and so solid a basis for morality as this decalogue lays down (1848, pp. 61,70-71, emp. added).
Revolutionary War soldier and U.S. Congressman William Findley stated:
As a clear and exact knowledge of the moral law of nature is peculiarly important, in order to understand the whole system of revealed religion, I will state, that it pleased God to deliver, on Mount Sinai, a compendium of this holy law, and to write it with His own hand, on durable tables of stone. This law, which is commonly called the ten commandments, or decalogue, has its foundation in the nature of God and of man, in the relation men bear to him, and to each other, and in the duties which result from those relations; and on this account it is immutable and universally obligatory.... This was incorporated in the judicial law (1812, pp. 22-23, emp. added, italics in orig.).
Governor of New York and U.S. Senator DeWitt Clinton insisted: “The sanctions of the Divine law...cover the whole area of human action.... The laws which regulate our conduct are the laws of man and the laws of God” (as quoted in Campbell, 1849, pp. 307,305). Premiere Founder John Adams explained: “If ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free” (1797, 3:217). Other Founders could be cited who understood that many of the laws that God gave to the Hebrews are absolutely necessary to civil society. Recognizing and respecting how God expected the Jews to deal with criminal behavior is critical to sustaining American society.
For example, what was God’s view of kidnapping? As a matter of fact, kidnapping was a capital crime under the Law of Moses: “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:16; cf. Deuteronomy 24:7; 1 Timothy 1:10). The rape of an engaged or married woman was also a capital crime under Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). Sexual relations with a daughter also brought death (Leviticus 18:17; 20:12; cf. Ezekiel 22:11). The death penalty was typically carried out by stoning—which God obviously did not consider to be “cruel and unusual punishment.”
In view of these observations and realizations, one cannot help but be horrified, sickened, and shocked beyond belief at the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Kennedy v. Louisiana (“U.S. Supreme Court Strikes...,” 2008). On the morning of March 2, 1998, Patrick Kennedy called 911 to report the rape of his eight-year-old stepdaughter. The reader will pardon the unspeakable, nightmarish details of the brutal assault described in the following quotation from the legal documents:
When police arrived at [Kennedy’s] home between 9:20 and 9:30 a.m., they found [the girl] on her bed, wearing a T-shirt and wrapped in a bloody blanket. She was bleeding profusely from the vaginal area.... [She] was transported to the Children’s Hospital. An expert in pediatric forensic medicine testified that [the girl’s] injuries were the most severe he had seen from a sexual assault in his four years of practice. A laceration to the left wall of the vagina had separated her cervix from the back of her vagina, causing her rectum to protrude into the vaginal structure. Her entire perineum was torn from the posterior fourchette to the anus. The injuries required emergency surgery (Kennedy v. Louisiana, 2008, bracketed items added).
So detestable was this crime that even the High Court conceded: “Petitioner’s crime was one that cannot be recounted in these pages in a way sufficient to capture in full the hurt and horror inflicted on his victim or to convey the revulsion society, and the jury that represents it, sought to express by sentencing petitioner to death” (Kennedy v...).
After further investigation, Kennedy was charged with the aggravated rape of his stepdaughter. Louisiana law allowed the district attorney to seek the death penalty for defendants found guilty of raping children under the age of 12. The jury unanimously determined that Kennedy should be sentenced to death. Kennedy appealed—all the way to the highest court in the state. But the Louisiana Supreme Court reaffirmed the imposition of the death sentence (Liptak, 2007). Kennedy again appealed—all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5-to-4 decision (split down ideological lines—liberal vs. conservative), the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Louisiana Court’s decision, commuting Kennedy’s death sentence. The Court held that it is unconstitutional for states to impose the death penalty for the rape of a child where the assault did not result in the child’s death. The death penalty in such a case would be deemed an exercise of “cruel and unusual punishment.” Consider some of the remarks offered by the Court to justify this unconscionable, reprehensible, morally degraded decision:
Evolving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person, and the punishment of criminals must conform to that rule.
When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint.
[T]he death penalty can be disproportionate to the crime itself where the crime did not result, or was not intended to result, in death of the victim.
Rape is without doubt deserving of serious punishment; but in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, it does not compare with murder, which does involve the unjustified taking of human life (Kennedy v...).
In complete harmony with the leftist trend that commenced in the 1960s, in which focus shifted from the rights of the victim to the rights of the perpetrator, observe that the liberal element on the Court shows uncanny concern for the “dignity” of the criminal—with a corresponding disregard for the dignity of the victim. They also make the ridiculous comparison of lawful, prudent application of the death penalty to the unlawful, senseless crimes of the wicked—even implying that use of the death penalty conflicts with “decency and restraint.” This would mean that God was indecent and unrestrained when He personally invoked the death penalty on millions throughout Old Testament history (e.g., the Flood), and also when He commands civil authority to do the same (e.g., Romans 13:1ff.). The five justices clearly do not know God (cf. Romans 1:28; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Titus 1:16).
This contention (that death is justifiable only in cases where murder has been committed) implies that if Kennedy would have killed his stepdaughter after raping her, the liberals on the Court may have been more willing to invoke the death penalty (although they indicated that even then, the criminal would have had to commit “a particularly depraved murder”). But their unwarranted assumption pitches judicial evaluation into the realm of subjective human opinion that changes with the fickle whims of culture. In fact, the opinion of the Court based much of its rationale on whether there exists national consensus on the propriety of capital punishment in cases of child rape—as if objective moral value is determined by majority human opinion. The justices’ exclusion of the principles of Christian morality that once guided American courts prevents them from acknowledging the only ultimate authority for deciding when the death penalty is warranted. No human has it within himself to legislate on such a matter. Only God can define the conditions under which humans may take the life of other humans.
What’s more, to maintain that invoking the death penalty is a “disproportionate” act when the criminal does not actually kill his victim, commits one to the absurd position that the criminal can subject his victim to excruciating, sadistic torture, anguish, and suffering—as long as he keeps his victim alive. And he could persist in his assaults for years, with a child of any age, and still not receive the death penalty! The justices clearly have no grasp of, let alone sympathy for, the untold, unimaginable damage perpetrated, not only on the tender body of Kennedy’s stepchild, but on that child’s spirit. The emotional, psychological, mental, and spiritual havoc inflicted is indescribable and unfathomable—literally beyond comprehension. A part of that child was murdered, changing her forever. The average child subjected to such horrendous treatment is permanently ruined—doomed for the rest of her life to wander aimlessly with a tortured soul, a twisted outlook, and an unrecoverable existence. In fact, in one sense, death would be mercifully preferable to living with the aftermath. Ironically, the Court acknowledged this fact: “The attack was not just on her but on her childhood.... Rape has a permanent psychological, emotional, and sometimes physical impact on the child.... We cannot dismiss the years of long anguish that must be endured by the victim of child rape” (Kennedy v..., emp. added). Yet, according to the majority of the Court, extending capital punishment to the rapist of a child would be “excessive,” “cruel and unusual punishment” since America’s “evolving standards of decency” “mark the progress of a maturing society.” Indeed, the Court insisted that executing all child rapists “could not be reconciled with our evolving standards of decency and the necessity to constrain the use of the death penalty” (Kennedy v...). Unbelievable. If anything verifies that we as a society are not maturing, that we are, in fact, devolving from superior standards of decency and morality, it surely is our uncivilized, barbaric, unconscionable treatment of children in the last 35 years—from the butchery of abortion to the savagery of sexual abuse.
If God prescribed death for kidnappers, i.e., those who illegally seize and detain a child—before and without inflicting any harm on the child—imagine how God feels about the person who would subject a precious, innocent, little girl to the indescribable agony of savage, sexual assault. Indeed, a man who would commit such abominable, loathsome behavior is depraved and should be eliminated permanently from society. He has forfeited his right to live in civil society. His action is of such gravity that he has earned death for himself (cf. “his blood be upon him”—Leviticus 20:9,13,27), and the rest of society deserves to be free of the inherent threat he poses to others. Those who reject this biblical assessment themselves possess degraded moral sensitivities and warped spiritual faculties. The decision by those five justices is despicable and unconscionable. They ought to be ashamed. They most certainly will be in eternity when they are called to account for their reckless, ruthless decision.
When our own governmental and judicial officials brush aside the moral principles authored by God, when they have allowed their moral sensibilities and sensitivities to be undermined by secularism and anti-Christian ideology, when they no longer seek to emulate the mind of God and organize their thinking in harmony with His views, when they do not “abhor what is evil” (Romans 12:9), the erosion of civil society is well underway and our nation is doomed to destruction.
Adams, John (1797), A Defense of the Constitution of Government of the United States of America (Philadelphia, PA: William Young).
Adams, John Quincy (1848), Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn, NY: Derby, Miller, & Co.).
Campbell, William (1849), The Life and Writings of DeWitt Clinton (New York: Baker & Scribner).
Declaration of Independence (1776), [On-line], URL: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/declare.asp.
Findley, William (1812), Observations on “The Two Sons of Oil” (Pittsburgh, PA: Patterson & Hopkins).
Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008), (No. 07-343) 957 So.2d 757, [On-line], URL: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-343.ZO.html.
Liptak, Adam (2007), “Louisiana Court Backs Death in Child Rape,” The New York Times, May 23, [On-line], URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/23/us/23death.html?_r=1.
“U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Law Allowing Execution for Child Rape” (2008), Associated Press, June 25, [On-line], URL: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,371353,00.html.
Witherspoon, John (1815), The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle).