ASK BOB: “How Could a Loving God Order Executions?”

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.



How does a Christian respond to those who say they cannot believe in a God who would make laws to kill an adulterer and/or order the “mass genocide” of people who are not Israelites?  I realize they are referring to commands that existed only in the Old Testament and we are no longer under the old covenant, but their accusations against the God of the Bible are not easy to refute.

I understand that the law to execute adulterers was given to keep marriages holy since the family is a picture of God’s faithfulness to us. I see the “mass genocide” issue (his phrase) as preserving the line of the Messiah who was to come from a people who had to be kept moral and who had not pursued other gods, but I’m still struggling as to how to convey an answer to these accusations. Can you help me provide some responses?



Those questions are not easy to answer and are often used by unbelievers to suggest the God of the Bible is cruel and diabolical. The Old Testament did state an adulterer was to be stoned. And God did order the Israelites to completely destroy the pagan people living in the land of Canaan – including the women and children.

A compassionate doctor might amputate a leg to save a person’s life.  It’s not because he doesn’t care about the leg, but he anticipates what gangrene will do to the rest of the body.  A judge may order a murderous child molester executed not because he hates the offender but because he wants justice served and wants to protect other children.

You might ask the questioner, “Knowing what you know now, if you personally had the opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden in the year 2000 would you do it, even if it meant killing five of his family members as well? Most of us, if we knew the future, would likely take that action even as harsh as it may appear to others at the time.

A good passage to consider in this matter is Romans nine. It reads, “But who are you, a human being to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who made it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath – prepared for destruction!” (Romans 9:20-22).

The Apostle Paul’s argument is; until we are powerful enough to create a universe, we have no option but to believe in the One who did. J. Vernon McGee once responded abruptly to someone complaining about God’s apparent injustice: “If you don’t like the way God is running this world, why don’t you go out and start your own?”

The Bible says, “God so loved the world…”   We can only trust that the Creator in His omniscience knows what is best for mankind in the long term.

– Bob

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