If I put the Bible first, before politics, I will end up supporting the death penalty. But I think the Bible also answers some of the fears of those who do oppose the death penalty. This will basically be a survey of several key Bible verses that deal with the death penalty. From its initial inception in Genesis 9, to its use in the Old Testament Law, and the important teaching in Romans 13 on the role of government in enacting lethal punishment.
Along the way, I’m going to answer a few challenges that I’ve heard regarding the death penalty:
- 1) What about those who are innocent but get the death penalty?
- 2) But didn’t Jesus reject the death penalty when He said to “turn the other cheek” or when He wouldn’t kill the adulterous woman?
- 3) But God’s justice is restorative and not retributive. And the death penalty ends any chance to restore the person who committed the crime.
- 4) I just don’t trust the government to get it right, therefore capital punishment should be off the table.
- 5) But we aren’t under the Law of Moses anymore.
I realize there are major ramifications for political issues related to this question but I want us to approach it first as a question of what the Bible teaches. This is my own commitment in trying to think biblically about everything and it’s what I hope you will do as well.