I am consistently amazed at the “consistently pro-life,” those who reject capital punishment as a matter of principle (the so-called “seamless garment” argument).
Exactly what principle is in play here? Strict “pro-life” consistency requires more than opposition to executions. It requires the Eastern doctrine of ahimsa: harm no living thing, including microbes and mosquitoes.
No Christian pro-lifer goes this far. But why not? Because there’s a big moral difference between human beings and bugs. Sure, but there’s also a big moral difference between innocent unborn children and vicious killers (body count for Stanley “Tookie” Williams, co-founder of the Crips, is at least four).
“Pro-life” is actually shorthand for the more cumbersome, “We are ‘pro’ the lives of innocent children being destroyed for frivolous reasons.” Nothing about the logic of the pro-life view properly understood requires opposition to capital punishment.
Ironically, capital punishment turns out to be the real pro (in favor of) life position. Executing guilty people is a way of affirming the value of the innocent life being preyed upon by killers. I didn’t make this up. God did:
Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man. (Gen 9:6)
Pretty straight-forward. Twenty-one different offenses called for the death penalty in the Old Testament. Again, God’s idea.
If Jesus reversed this principle, apparently Paul missed it:
- Rom 13:3-4 for [ruling authority] is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.
- Acts 25:11 If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.
For more detail, see our outline on capital punishment.