On multiple occasions I’ve had well-meaning people who, upon realizing I’m pro-life, assume they know exactly where I must stand on all other societal issues. It’s not a matter of people guessing what my opinions might be. “Oh, you’re pro-life – do you think [fill in the blank]?” It’s more like once people find out I’m pro-life, they feel they must hold me to their ideals of how pro-lifers should reason. I addressed one of those topics in my last article on being pro-life but not a vegetarian. I was motivated to write that to those who question how I can protect fetuses but not fight for the rights of little chickens. In the comment section of the article a debate got started on a topic I will address later in this article.
Even though I like talking about such things, there are some assumptions or rather accusations that I usually don’t take time to address. The “you’re demonizing black women by discussing their abortion rates, so you’re a racist” is one I don’t bother fighting. I could explain myself, but if someone is foolish enough to think I’m a racist toward my own people, I won’t waste my time convincing her otherwise.
Over the years, I have met some sincere people who genuinely believe that my position on abortion should color my worldview in certain hues. I can understand that. We all expect certain things from people who profess to believe something. When we hear about a preacher having an affair, we stop and think, “Wait a minute, aren’t you supposed to be faithful?” We may not understand all the ins and outs of other people’s values, but we still use what we know to make our predictions. Unfortunately, this can get us in trouble, because people have complex views that are not easily put in neat little boxes.
One of the most common expectations of pro-lifers, and the one I’m addressing in this article, is the belief that we should also be against capital punishment. It’s obvious why people might think that all pro-lifers should hold that position. Simply put, the death penalty involves putting someone to death, as does the act of abortion.
I’m sure there are many pro-lifers who are adamantly against capital punishment. I’m just not one of them. I’ve listened to people explain why as a pro-lifer I should be against the death penalty. At times, I’ve even agreed with them. Yet when I really think about it, I admit that I think my pro-life views are consistent even though I’m not against capital punishment.
Before you label me a hypocrite, hear me out. After you’re done listening, then you can call me a hypocrite in the comment section. I’m pro-life because I believe that a fetus is valuable and should be protected. I am against abortion because I have seen its effect on men, women, and children. Even though Planned Parenthood says otherwise, having an abortion is not like a tooth being pulled. I’ve met lots of people, and to this day I can’t recall a woman ever mourning the tooth she had pulled ten years ago. Abortion is murder that’s packaged as just another woman’s choice. Abortion is morally wrong and destructive to society.
The statements I made about the unborn child’s worth are true to the inmate as well. A prisoner is valuable, no matter how corrupt his actions have been. So if an unborn child is as valuable as an adult prisoner, why am I not opposed to the death of both? For me, it comes down to my beliefs on justice.
I believe it’s unjust to take the life of a child without its consent. Babies are not only innocent, but voiceless. They are not able to make their own choices. They are vulnerable in every single way.
Most functioning adults are in a different situation. We have the ability to make choices. Our decisions, whether positive or negative, have consequences. If I decide to drive while drunk, I have made a poor choice. That poor choice may cost me the right to drive my car. If I endanger someone, I may even lose my freedom and end up in prison. Knowing the laws of the land may cause me to obey them. Yet if I disobey those laws and my rights are taken away because of my choices, that is just. I may object, but that is the law. The issue of the death penalty in my opinion is a matter more of consequences than of the value of a person.
I know that our justice system is far from perfect. That is gross understatement, actually. I know about the high rates of black men receiving the death penalty in states like Texas. I think we must look at issues of racial profiling and faulty witness testimonies. I don’t think any person should be sentenced to death without concrete evidence or with a single doubt that the person committed the crime. It’s a shame when a man is sentenced to death because he looks like someone he isn’t. That infuriates me. I like Rick Perry, but I don’t like everything that’s happened in his state.
When it comes to the death penalty, my heart is always bent toward mercy and second chances. I personally think a lifelong prison sentence is a better consequence than the death penalty. If I were judge and jury in every case, I honestly doubt that I would ever sentence someone to death. Yet just because I wouldn’t condemn a man to death, that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when our society should. I could barely give someone a traffic ticket without feeling some level of guilt. That’s why I’m not a cop. I have compassion toward others and want the best for them. I also understand there are cases where the guilty party has confessed, the facts are clear, and capital punishment is believed to be the best ruling. I don’t think I have to object to that because of my pro-life views.
I find it interesting that I’ve never heard an argument or objections against Third Reich officers and Nazi war criminals receiving capital punishment after WWII ended. I wonder if people who accuse pro-lifers of being hypocritical on this issue would truly object to a radical dictator or mass murderer like Hitler being executed for his crimes. If they wouldn’t, it causes me to wonder if the issue is truly about the taking of a life or people’s varying views on guilt and punishment.
I also ponder the meaning behind Genesis Chapter 9:5-6.
Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for God made man in his own image.
From my reading, I see that God established a covenant with Noah and told him that whoever shed the blood of men would have as a punishment his blood shed. Some believe that this scripture supports the death penalty. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, but it is something worth researching and studying.
My views on this topic are still developing. My heart’s wish would be for every criminal to be given the help he needs to bring about some positive change in his life – even if it takes place only in the enclosed walls of his cell. In a perfect world, that could happen. In our imperfect nation, people will suffer the loss of their lives for the crimes they’ve committed. Tragically, some will continue to die for crimes they didn’t commit. We can all agree that that should never happen. There are countless areas in our society that call for reform, and this is surely one of them. Yet as a pro-lifer, I refuse to believe that capital punishment is the same issue as abortion or feel pressured to speak against it lest I be called a hypocrite.