The Bible says that Cain, after murdering Abel, feared “everyone that finds me shall slay me.” Guilt projected his action on everyone else and turned into fear of being the victim. The next verse tells of God’s intervention: “And the Lord said unto him, therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (Genesis 4:15).
The exacting of “an eye for an eye” would be punished. God had a different fate for Cain, as he surely has had for all murderers since. Nevertheless, God’s warning against retribution has not deterred governments from appropriating the authority to kill murderers and call down God’s sevenfold vengeance. What evidence can we expect to find that vengeance is being exacted on us for ignoring God’s warning? It is subtle and lies in the illogical concealment of executions. Deterrence is the alleged justification, yet that goal is thwarted by not providing the publicity necessary to make it an example.
Not doing so is our admission, albeit unacknowledged, of hubris. We have no authority to copy the deeds of murderers. Oklahoma’s recent grisly execution unmasked the executioner and exposed the state to worldwide ridicule and scorn. This is not God’s vengeance but the natural consequences of our folly. Our real punishment is that our executions and self-deception about them separate us from God.
James Warram, Norman