As Christians, we believe that the image of God exists in all human beings. It is for this reason that I have recently launched the Imago Dei, a global campaign initiated and led by Christ centered, Bible believing evangelicals for the purpose of recognizing the image of God in every human being in and out of the womb, without exception. Nothing we can do – no sin too great – can ever rob us of that. In other words, no action can ever put us beyond redemption or the miraculous power of God’s grace. The inevitable conclusion from this insight is that all life, from conception to natural death, is sacred and demands our respect and protection.
Because of the deep value I hold for all human life, the details of the botched execution on April 29 in Oklahoma shook me, as it did many evangelicals and people of faith. The inmate executed, Clayton Lockett, committed horrific crimes. Based on these actions, he was a clear danger to society and needed to be permanently removed from it. Regardless of how you feel about the death penalty, though, Oklahoma’s decision to move forward with this execution showed an insufficient concern for human life. Beforehand, legal and medical experts warned that the experimental execution protocol and the secrecy surrounding it could lead to disastrous consequences. Oklahoma ignored these concerns.
From all accounts, the scene was horrific. After the administration of the drugs, Lockett became unconscious and began to writhe on the gurney. Discovering a ruptured vein, officials stopped the execution and tried to resuscitate him but without success. Eventually he was pronounced dead from a heart attack. My heart breaks for everyone touched by this case and execution. In an already difficult situation, this botched execution inflicted further stress and trauma on everyone involved.
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