Scott wrote a while back (9/22/05 post) on being consistently pro-life: against abortion AND the death penalty. Here were some of my thoughts:
There is a very simple answer to how a Christian against abortion can be for the death penalty.
There is this thing called guilt and innocence.
When a man murders a baby, the baby is not guilty of any crime justifying this. It is injustice.
When a man murders another man, he is guilty and God tells the state to execute him (Gen 9:6; Rom 13:4). This is justice, by God's standards, not ours. Will we do what we think feels right by allowing life, or will we follow God's Word?
Given the Bible, I think there is a serious parting of the ways between being completely pro-life, and being completely pro-God's-will...
[Some objection was raised about the flawed legal system, and too much uncertainty sometimes over actual guilt/murder to execute.]
Whether the system is flawed or not does not touch upon the legitimacy of the death penalty.
I partially agree with you as to legal system flaws, though I would also say part of the truth could include racially disproportionate executable crimes committed. I don't we need to assume one way or another, and I don't think this has any bearing on whether one is for the death penalty or not.
If God gives civil gov't the right to execute, as I believe he does in Rom 13:4 (see next paragraph), who are we to be wiser than God, claiming our fallibility as an excuse to not do what God gives us the authority to do? This is like the husband who won't lead his family, because, he reasons, he's no better or less fallible than his wife. That's not the point. The point is, God has established society this way, with these roles and functions. There is a difference (I think) between actually obeying God's Word out there in the world and theonomy.
The phrase "bear the sword" in Rom 13:4 had a specific historical context within Paul's Roman Empire, referring to the right of a city mayor, regional governor or whatever subordinate ruler, to take life on behalf of the state/emperor, as civil punishment for crimes. It is precisely this that the Jews did NOT have when they brought Jesus to Pilate. Pilate bore the sword. Sound historical exegesis does not allow this phrase to be watered down to exclude the death penalty.