I am in favor of the death penalty in general, and for Saddam in particular.
He ought to be dealt with humanely. The image of God must always be honored. But it is precisely because the image of God must be honored that he must die. To deal with him in any way less than death is to dishonor the millions of images of God that he tortured and twisted and broke, including his own.
“He who sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” These words were spoken by God to Noah, as part of what’s often called the Covenant of Preservation. It was the mechanism that God put in place to restrain the wickedness of man, so as to avoid the need for another worldwide flood until God’s redemptive plan was complete. We can see how that mechanism would work when we imagine the effect that hanging Saddam would have on every dictator in the world. It would send a message that there are a few countries in the world that are willing, if you get too far out of line, to invade you and hang you. This would be a wonderfully bracing message in a world where Yasser Arafat wins a Nobel Peace prize and Robert Mugave is treated like an elder statesman instead of the cheap thug that he is.
And I hope that he is tried by the Iraqi people. As long as we could make sure that it wasn’t Saddam loyalists trying him (and that shouldn’t be too hard to ensure), we wouldn’t have to worry about justice being done. Everyone who’s ever lost a loved one to crime wants the perpetrator brought to justice. And the Iraqis have lost millions. So I hope they try him, and I hope they hang him, and I hope they do it all in public.
They say that if God never judged anyone on earth for their crimes, we might not have reason to believe that God judged at all. And if God punished all crimes here on earth, we might not have reason to expect any future judgment. So a lot of people get away with things for a while. Some people get away with it their whole lives, and die in peace (like the elder Kim of North Korea) to go to be judged by the Almighty in eternity. And God in His mercy shows us some people getting judged right here and now, for all to see, that there is a God in the heavens, and He does care what we do to each other. Thank God, and praise Him for this victory.