Saddam is about to be hanged. This is the time to consider my views on the death penalty.
The arguments for:
It is the ultimate sanction. Deliberately taking a life should result in your own life being taken.
It is the penalty demanded by Scripture.
It deters others from committing murder.
It concentrates the mind of the murderer so that if he wishes to repent he knows he has but a short time in which to do it.
It brings 'closure'.
The arguments against:
It turns the state into a 'murderer'.
The wrong person might be executed.
It does not really deter.
Life imprisonment is a just puniushment which removes the murderer from repeating his offence and gives him time to contemplate what he has done.
In the case of Saddam there are other arguments against:
It would turn him into a martyr.
The execution itself would be an occasion to foment a riot.
And arguments in favor:
While he is alive the possibility of freeing him remains alive.
Some time in the future a Sunni regime may decide to do exactly that.
The only argument against that counts with me is the possibility of executing the wrong man. Undoubtedly there have been miscarriages of justice in the past. But there seems no doubt that Saddam is guilty.
He deserves death.
Over the past 50 years there has been a movement to lessen the significance of evil. People make excuses for it. It was his upbringing or his genes to blame. There is a willful misinterpretation of Scripture. "Thou shall not kill" is not a blanket ban on killing. Even a cursory reading of the Bible demonstrates that God sanctioned both killing of the enemy in war and judicial killing of criminals. I know that people tend to say that that was the Old Testament and we have different standards in the New Testament, but that is also incorrect.
Luke reports the thief on the cross saying, "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve." and later relates the story of Ananias and Sapphira who were struck dead for witholding from God what they had promised to give. Again King Herod was struck dead by an Angel of the Lord in Acts Ch 12 v 23, for setting himself up as a god. In I Corinthians Ch 11 v 30 Paul clearly indicates that some have died because they abused the Lord's Supper. Undoubtedly, both Old and New Testaments take a severe view of sin, and certainly don't rule out the death penalty where appropriate. Those who believe that Christians ought to be against the death penalty are making up their own religion.