The Wrong Kind of Deterrence

Anti-death penalty groups argue that capital punishment does not prevent further crimes. They are wrong. The Bible says the death penalty is a strong deterrent (Deut. 13:6-11; Ecc. 8:11; Rom. 13:4).

If anyone thinks fear of reprisal doesn’t work, then let him consider the effect of fear in a different context: the fear of being punished for doing good. Fear of punishment, whether physical or verbal, keeps a lot of people from doing what is right!

Hollywood and the news media belittle and criticize any group that claims to believe in Christ and the Bible. But movie makers and newscasters will not dare mock the religion of Islam. Why is there a double standard? Intimidation works! Network executives don’t want to incur the wrath of Muslims. Politicians are reluctant to tell the truth about this dangerous religion because they are paralyzed by the fear of Muslim retaliations.

But Muslim terrorism is not the only or even the worst form of reverse deterrence we’re facing. People are dissuaded from saying and doing the right thing because they fear being humiliated and criticized. They are deterred from speaking the truth for fear of being fined or sued. The Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriages are legal. The President is now telling state schools to allow students to use any restroom they choose. If states don’t comply, they are being warned that they could lose federal funding or face a lawsuit. These high-handed tactics remind us of just how much freedom we have lost.

The Jewish leaders told the apostles not to teach the gospel anymore (Acts 5:28). Peter replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This was the same Peter who said we should obey our rulers (1 Pet. 2:13-14). But when man’s law tries to nullify the law of God, we must go with the will of God.

These intimidation tactics are even in the church. It occurs when members threaten to leave a congregation if the preacher doesn’t lighten up his preaching. They try to put pressure on elders to keep them from withdrawing fellowship like the Bible teaches. They warn, “You’re going to divide this church” or “A lot of people are upset and are thinking about leaving.” They are spiritual terrorists who do their best to spread fear and compromise in the church.

Sadly, many give in to spiritual terrorism. King Saul said, “I have sinned…because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice” (1 Sam. 15:24). Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but he allowed the Jews to intimidate him into sentencing Jesus to die (John 19:8-16). The Jewish leaders were spiritual terrorists. They bullied and intimidated anyone they could. Though the common people had opinions about Christ, the Bible says at the temple “no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13).

There is a right and a wrong kind of fear in the Bible. It is good to be afraid of disobeying the Lord (Matt. 10:28). It is wrong to fear man and compromise the truth. John said the “fearful” will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21 :8). If you fear God as you should, you will not give in to the demands of spiritual terrorists in the world, in the church, or even in your own family.

Kerry Duke
West End church of Christ
Livingston, TN

Bookmark for Later (0)
ClosePlease login

Leave a Comment