How can pro-life Christians also support capital punishment?

"For nearly two millennia now, this passage [Rom 13:4] has been seen by most Christian faith traditions both as authorizing governmental authority and authorizing their right to use lethal force to punish evil doers, domestically through the criminal justice system and internationally through the military in “just war” conflicts with other nations." - Richard Land

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josh p's picture

David VanDrunnen has an interesting article about this passage where he argues that Paul had the Noahic covenant in mind in Romans 13.

Joel Shaffer's picture

"Lastly, it must be said, if we are going to support the use of capital punishment for crimes such as murder, then we have to be as dedicated to capital punishment’s just and equitable application as we are to its use. When we look at the history of the United States, we must acknowledge that capital punishment has not been applied equally. Historically, you have been far more likely to be executed in America if you were poor, an ethic minority, or a man. That must change. I believe we have made substantial progress concerning gender bias and ethnicity, but not as much on poverty. The O.J. Simpson case is living proof that someone can get away with homicide if they are rich enough. And sadly, poverty and minority ethnicity are still too often combined in our society."

As for substantial progress, It depends on the state that you live in.  The most recent execution of Nathaniel Woods in Alabama proves otherwise.  https://eji.org/news/nathaniel-woods-execution-reveals-disturbing-bias-in-alabama/?fbclid=IwAR0pSRB2bcAGRL16p_5wdgXqzLNhA0nXny1j_pqt29BHKzVZ8QaoBfcqwhk 

For certain situations, I do hold to a Biblical view of Capital Punishment viewing it as an affirmation of the value of human life (Gen. 9;6)  "The principle of “life for life” is a testimony to the inestimable value of human life; fines or time in prison cannot repay the debt which murder incurs." (Shenvi)

However, when significant numbers of innocent people are being executed or if justice is being perverted through favoritism towards the rich or racism towards blacks, I am dead-set against it. Although I agree with CP in principle, I cannot support CP in practice in America because too many of the state's criminal justice systems are too flawed to administrate it properly (DA's office, prosecutors, failures of court-appointed defense attorneys, and etc.. ) as this article above demonstrates. (Woods was a drug-addict at the wrong place at the wrong time that did not have anything to do with the murders. And when the DA's office/Prosecution unjustly went after a 1st degree murder charge/conviction towards him, the court-appointed defense miserably failed to defend him)

“The one who justifies the wicked and the one who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to Yahweh.” Proverbs 17:15.

 

Andrew K's picture

josh p wrote:

David VanDrunnen has an interesting article about this passage where he argues that Paul had the Noahic covenant in mind in Romans 13.

You have a link?

josh p's picture

It’s not online. It’s on Jstor which I don’t have access to so I called my library. They found it at a law school near me which has a time where they open their library up to the public. As it turned out my sister got it for me since she was in a graduate program. If you message me your email address I’ll see if I can send it as a pdf.

josh p's picture

Here is the citation if you have access:
VanDrunen, David. (2016). Power to the people: Revisiting civil resistance in romans 13:1-7 in light of the noahic covenant. Journal of Law and Religion. -1. 1-15. 10.1017/jlr.2015.41.

josh p's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

"Lastly, it must be said, if we are going to support the use of capital punishment for crimes such as murder, then we have to be as dedicated to capital punishment’s just and equitable application as we are to its use. When we look at the history of the United States, we must acknowledge that capital punishment has not been applied equally. Historically, you have been far more likely to be executed in America if you were poor, an ethic minority, or a man. That must change. I believe we have made substantial progress concerning gender bias and ethnicity, but not as much on poverty. The O.J. Simpson case is living proof that someone can get away with homicide if they are rich enough. And sadly, poverty and minority ethnicity are still too often combined in our society."

As for substantial progress, It depends on the state that you live in.  The most recent execution of Nathaniel Woods in Alabama proves otherwise.  https://eji.org/news/nathaniel-woods-execution-reveals-disturbing-bias-in-alabama/?fbclid=IwAR0pSRB2bcAGRL16p_5wdgXqzLNhA0nXny1j_pqt29BHKzVZ8QaoBfcqwhk 

For certain situations, I do hold to a Biblical view of Capital Punishment viewing it as an affirmation of the value of human life (Gen. 9;6)  "The principle of “life for life” is a testimony to the inestimable value of human life; fines or time in prison cannot repay the debt which murder incurs." (Shenvi)

However, when significant numbers of innocent people are being executed or if justice is being perverted through favoritism towards the rich or racism towards blacks, I am dead-set against it. Although I agree with CP in principle, I cannot support CP in practice in America because too many of the state's criminal justice systems are too flawed to administrate it properly (DA's office, prosecutors, failures of court-appointed defense attorneys, and etc.. ) as this article above demonstrates. (Woods was a drug-addict at the wrong place at the wrong time that did not have anything to do with the murders. And when the DA's office/Prosecution unjustly went after a 1st degree murder charge/conviction towards him, the court-appointed defense miserably failed to defend him)

“The one who justifies the wicked and the one who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to Yahweh.” Proverbs 17:15.

 

In the last couple of years I have come to a similar position. I am still all for CP as a biblical concept but I don't really trust the government (Whether state or Federal) to practice it justly. I do hate the idea of child molesters living rent free in a prison but I guess I prefer it to the idea of people being killed unjustly. 

Andrew K's picture

josh p wrote:

Here is the citation if you have access:
VanDrunen, David. (2016). Power to the people: Revisiting civil resistance in romans 13:1-7 in light of the noahic covenant. Journal of Law and Religion. -1. 1-15. 10.1017/jlr.2015.41.

Thanks! I think I have access at work, so I'll give it a try.

Jim's picture

For most of us the capital punishment question has been decided and is out of our hands!

Here are the problems with CP in the US:

The argument for CP is often killers kill! Either in prison or after release (too many examples but see link for recent one in MN