From the combox of my post entitled “Discussion on the Inquisition”:
… it corrodes and endangers the soul of the executioner. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
This is an entirely subjective and emotional argument. If we substitute ‘soldier’ for ‘executioner’ then we have one of the arguments of the pacifistic humanists. As for ‘casting the first stone’, it is the State that ‘casts the stone’, justly and with God’s authority, though carried out through the medium of persons.
To kill someone in combat is one thing. To judicially murder a helpless prisoner another, regardless of their sin. To do so when the person is innocent may be pardonable on an individual level, but a state that does so commits a mortal sin for which there is no forgiveness, since the state as a person is incapable of contrition.The notion that “a state that [executes an innocent] commits a mortal sin for which there is no forgiveness, since the state as a person is incapable of contrition” is one that is new to me. We might speak of the State as sinning if it kills an innocent knowingly (and only by analogy to human mortal sin, of course), but to say that it sins by following it properly-formed conscience (again, by analogy) seems quite illogical. Furthermore, if we extend the analogy to the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent man, which would presumably, according to this line of reasoning, be at least a venial sin, then we should abandon the pursuit of justice altogether, since one must never sin even if as a means to a worthy end.
Assuming someone is so mired in sin they will get instant damnation at death, one should in fact keep them alive as long as possible, hoping for their repentance.This seems to relate to the notion that, once a sin is committed, the sinner is somehow entitled to a reasonable period of time in which to have the opportunity of repentance. But one’s moral state exists and is payable at any given point in time. To put it bluntly, the sinner was never entitled to sin in the first place. Furthermore, Scripture furnishes us with examples of the Lord willing (not merely permitting) the death of some individuals who were still in the state of sin.