Some Christians who are against death penalty have a wrong interpretation of these verses as found in Matthew 5:38-39:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Now do they understand what eye for eye means? The problem is that they don't. It's easy to be mistaken that God authorized people to have their personal revenge in the Old Testament. That's not the case. If He did, He wouldn't have mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:35 saying:
To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
The same God who said eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth didn't authorize revenge while allowing people to press charges if they were ever harmed. Deuteronomy 19 also shows civil laws and the end verses shows this as Deuteronomy 19:21 says:
And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
That was the instruction given to the judges on how eye for eye should go. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind only if people took the law into their own hands. But not following it accordingly will also make people blind since people will just injure everyone if no lawful punishment is ever done. Although the death penalty does not bring the dead back but it's certainly a tool to help prevent any more people from becoming murder victims.
Death penalty as imposed by the Bible is not personal but social. It requires proper due process and if you're a false witness, you may end up dead if you ever wanted to kill anybody by exploiting a possible loophole. Deuteronomy 19:15-20 says this about due process:
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
There is such a thing as diligent inquisition which means a prolonged questioning or investigation so that's why some cases may take a year or more before guilty people get punished. No, it's not about prolonging the process for the sake of prolonging it. Instead, it's all about giving proper investigation and the right to a fair trial to prevent any innocents from getting wrongfully executed. The problem of death penalty killing innocents is because of kangaroo courts and the fact that perjury isn't taken seriously. Kangaroo court judges and false accusers in court should get their just desserts depending the consequences of their crimes. The Bible demands that if any perjury was intended to kill the falsely accused then the false accuser will be the one executed in the place of the falsely accused.
The same Bible that tells you to you to turn the other cheek also approves of self-defense. Jesus said in Luke 22:36 to buy a sword for self-defense. It doesn't mean that a rape victim should give the rapist the satisfaction or that you have no right to press charges against criminals. On the contrary, to turn the other cheek means to ignore insults or non-life threatening false accusations. But when a false accusation could have killed somebody then that false accuser who attempted murder through the legal system will be executed to discourage any act of perjury in court.
With the right to due process or diligent inquisition (no, don't confuse the word inquisition here with the Spanish Inquisition of the Roman Catholic institution), this means that no execution takes place without any proper evidence to prevent innocent people from getting executed or jailed. Self-defense killing is allowed but never murder. Vigilante killings are still murderous acts while killing someone out of self-defense isn't. The Bible encourages death penalty but it doesn't encourage vindictive killings as much as it doesn't encourage letting crime go unpunished.
- It's Sickening How People Can Sympathize with Criminals over the Victims of Crime
- List of Crimes That Should Be Punishable By Death
- The Stupidity of Decriminalizing Perjury and People Complaining Why Innocent People Are Getting Punished
- Who Does Pope Francis Thinks He Is as He Calls for the Worldwide Abolition of Death Penalty?
- Why Does God Forbid Humans to Enact Vengeance for Offenses Done Against Them?