Opinion: Christians And The Death Penalty

The issue of the death penalty has long been a constant debate among Christians. One side justifies capital punishment from its biblical origins as retribution of wrongdoing, while others argue against the practice, maintaining a holistic pro-life stance. 

The death penalty is advocated for in the bible, but Christians should not support the existing death penalty model. Current inconsistencies in the system and discrepancies with offenders’ cases should cause Christians to stop blindly encouraging the policy Christians must first retain our pro-life and human rights stance before we can promote the poorly implemented capital punishment model we currently have in place.

The concept of capital punishment was established in Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” Romans 13:4 specifically discusses the concept of government’s authority, mandating the instruction: “he [rulers] does not bear the sword in vain.” 

These verses outline that government has the God-granted right to punish wrongdoing, which includes implementation of the death penalty. New Testament principles of love and forgiveness apply to Christians but not primarily to governments and authority. The Bible makes it clear throughout Romans 13 that government was established as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” With that biblical view of government, Christians can promote the death penalty as directed by God. 

There is a problem, however.

Christians must tread lightly on the issue of capital punishment. On the one hand, it is biblically mandated for government, but problems such as racism and the possibility of wrongful convictions corrupt the present system. The argument for capital punishment should first be met by proper implementation.

On the contrary, Christians have a bigger problem to solve than ensuring capital punishment’s place in government. Before promoting the policy’s use, Christians should be aware of the rights violations and discrepancies that contaminate the current capital punishment.

Innocent lives have been lost to the death penalty. The prominent issue of capital punishment is killing an innocent person that was wrongfully convicted. Since 1973 according to the Death Penalty Information Center, over 185 mistakenly convicted prisoners on death row have been exonerated, pointing to a trend of erroneous death sentences. Similarly, more wrongly-convicted detainees have most likely been put to death. There have been dozens of instances in capital cases where there were discrepancies and questionable convictions. Christians cannot ignore these cases and vouch for capital punishment without acknowledging this problem.

Another caveat for the continued implementation of the death penalty is the racist tendencies of conviction. If the victim of a crime is white, the offender is more likely to be sentenced to death. Cases involving white victims comprise 80% of capital cases according to reports from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in which African-American offenders are three times more likely to receive the death penalty than white individuals. How can Christians support a process with racist outcomes? Christians should be on the offensive in stopping racial disparities. Public policy with unjust results is not God-ordained.

With these misnomers, Christians have the responsibility to promote solutions to these inconsistencies before we begin to encourage the death penalty with a fairer justice system. Before capital punishment can be justified as biblical, we must follow our pro-innocent-life stance and fight against the sin of racism. We must fight to ensure innocence until proven guilty. After these problems are solved,  Christians could then justifiably encourage the biblical use of the death penalty.

Keaton Browder is an Opinion Writer. View his LinkedIn profile here.


  • I respectfully disagree with this stance and the way it was approached based upon the numbers presented. What’s not presented is the numbers of convictions that have proven to be true in the vast majority of death penalty cases. Further you are never going to get a perfect system. Once DNA evidence was introduced it dropped the numbers of wrongful executions down to a more reasonable percentage from what it was.
    Further what also is considered to be a racist issue is not examining the other side of the coin and asking the question “Why is it that more African-Americans are executed than white offenders?” The answer is not racism. If you looked at the statistics of numbers of African-American offenders, you might find that the reason more are executed is because there are more that commit and are convicted of violent crimes than their white counterparts.
    Finally, the Biblical mandate for the death penalty is not predicated on having a perfect system first like you appear to be advocating for.
    Thus good journalism would recognize these things and address both sides of the issue instead of just trying to push their own view.

    • Even one death lost due to a wrongfully verdict makes capital punishment a problem.

    • I completely agree with your stance, sir, or ma’am I’m not quite sure, but I do agree with that and with the DNA technology that number has dropped dramatically and as far as being a racist issue I don’t agree with that at all and he’s right if you look at the statistics and see who commits the most violent crimes Unfortunately it is the African-American but that’s not my fault and I’m not gonna be held accountable for it Everybody has free will and I 100 hundred support the death penalty especially today. and there’s another statistics that wasn’t considered there are more black on black crime than black aon white crime and I am far from racist we all bleed, the same! And made the image of God

  • If one supports the rights a human life in the womb, how can one not also support the life of another? It is not equitable to support one and not the other, Christ was a God of mercy in the New Testament and we live today under the new covenant.

    • How many babies committed capital crimes?

    • Quick question, is God the God of mercy only? People keep saying God is a God of mercy, God is the God of Love,etc, as if those are the only qualities of God. God is a God of War, God is a God of Justice, and in the case of governments he armed them with the sword to execute just that. So please, consider all the qualities that God has and work that into the equation of life so that we truly serve an Almighty God

    • Anyone who supports the death penalty is not Christian. Nowhere in the New Testament is the death penalty justified. No one can be pro-life and pro-death penalty. The death penalty is something that protestants, especially evangelicals push because they conveniently skip over everything from Leviticus to Revelations. I have never heard a protestant speak of the Sermon on the Mount. Christ told us to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:38-49. Leviticus is part of the Jesus Torah and we know how protestants in the most death penalty supporting states feel about Jews. Protestants follow Christian teachings when it fits what they want. They promote anti-Christian sin such as divorce and remarriage (Matthew 10:10). To be quite frank about it, all of their twisting of scripture would not be a problem if the evangelicals would stop trying to force their twisting of scripture on everyone else by using religion as a political weapon.

  • Studies have shown that capital punishment can save up to 18 lives. If an argument against capital punishment is about the innocent lives that could be lost, or that supporting life in the womb should be equal to saving the life of a convicted murder (I won’t discuss the innocent life vs guilty), what about the 18? Capital punishment is not just about “justice” or “retribution,” but its also about protecting the innocent.

    Here is where the study was talked about on CBS News: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-penalty-deters-murders-studies-say/#app

  • If you truly believe in God and accept Christ as your savior the death penalty or dying in any fashion should not be a terrible thing. You are given the opertunity to return to the Father; to be with Jesus; to experience the ultimate oneness with our creator. It is only the non-believer who fears death past the possible pain of the act itself.

    The death penalty is an act of public safety and should be an act of expediancy.; returning a soul to God for judgement. Yes, man makes mistakes but God does not. Maybe an innocent soal is returned for a completiy unrelated reason. I believe, and though I don’t plan or want to return any time soon, I am ready and look forward to my return. I am far from perfect but I do love my lord yern for the reunion.

  • “Studies have shown” is a cheap way to say “I can’t prove it, but I believe it”. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but ‘studies say” leaves me wanting.

    • Your argument that the statement, “studies have shown” is a way of saying, “I can’t prove it, but I believe it”, is weak, as the studies provide proof and don’t simply guess. Furthermore, believing in something you cannot see is the definition of faith, which as a Christian is part of the foundation of our religion.

      • NewCreationDave

        So post the links to the studies and it’s all good.

      • NewCreationDave

        False equivalence. We believe spiritual truths because we have been born-again and are able to discern them (1Co 2:14) because our spirit nature has been made alive. You assert that “studies have shown.” It is reasonable for us to ask of you to point to such studies. We don’t believe such an assertion by faith. If those studies are evidence for your claims, we must see it. A judge or jury doesn’t judge guilt or innocence by faith; they must see and examine the evidence.

  • i think that the death sentence should be abolished end of story WHAT WOULD JESUS DO

    • I don’t think the question is what would Jesus do for this matter. If you really want to know, read Revelation and see what He’s going to do when He comes back to be the judge. Take a read of Rev 19:20-21.

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