Wednesday, July 29, 2009
There is a grand question before today. Many conservative pundits and television talking heads rail against the evil they find in the world. They condemn, denounce and otherwise opine with feverish rhetoric, against the evils of radical Islam and the terror begotten by such unscrupulous curs, and whoever they deem in need of a good verbal volley from their moral and religious cannons. They remind us of their Christianity, their religiosity and all that accompanies such beliefs. Likewise unwitting individuals who legitimately call themselves Christians sit up and unfortunately listen. An issue that many Christians get their marching orders from conservative pundits on is the issue of torture, specifically water boarding. Many individuals out of a belief that conservatism encompasses the all-knowing Mecca of right and wrong, and that such pundits are naturally right, swallow the vomitous codswallop that comes out of their television. What they hear are explanations of how water boarding isn’t torture, and how we gain information by it. But what many forget, while buying into such odious tripe, is their moral obligations as Christians. Ladies and gentlemen, as a Christian I grew up understanding that the Bible was not a hard book to understand. That application of its principles were simple. While there are indeed deep theological issues that encompass the Scriptures, this is not the principle topic at hand.
As we examine the debate from a Biblical standpoint, let us consider what Biblical precedent is lain down for us to follow. If we cannot follow the simple principles of Christianity, how can we follow those which may not be simple? I Thessalonians 5:15 states, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Plain, simple, yet profound in the area of Biblical precedent(s) against torture. Let us go on.
Former S.E.R.E. instructor and Navy officer Malcolm Vance, in writing for the website “Small Wars Journal,” made a short but profound statement on torture. He said, and I quote, “ We, as a nation, are having a crisis of honor.” A crisis of honor that not only extends to the very fabric of what America was founded on, but to the very Christian soul of America. So I ask you Christian America, how can we defend torture. We cannot! We Must Not!
The typical rejoinder heard from not only Christian conservatives, but all conservatives, is a brief blurb about how they do not afford us the same courtesy. That can simply be answered by quoting Luke 6:31, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And can further be qualified by adding, “even if the person doing unspeakable things to you does not afford you the same courtesy.” If Christ turned the other cheek, shouldn’t we, in our imperfect humanity, do the same? Outside of glorifying God, isn’t our aim to be as much like HIM as we can? I recently heard it asserted that Christ would have approved of torture. First, I cannot believe that with such blatant principles staring them in the face that someone would make such a completely baseless assertion! By virtue of Christ turning the other cheek, and admonishments of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Render not evil for evil,” I can see no reason why Christ would approve of torture.
That theologically conservative Christians alike approve of, abide by and defend torture, makes me wonder if my country is no longer a country of law, but of men. A nation of men abides by torture and the usurpation of their rights, out of fear. A government politico, television pundit or even the President himself defend measures that usurp rights and explain away all moral decency as measures necessary to protect us. A nation of law falls back on the established precedent of the law, and the morality of its religious based heritage. As Christians we fall back on the moral principles and heritage of our upbringing. To deny this is to deny our nations religious heritage. It is to deny that free men are compelled by morality and just law. For a Christian to defend torture is to deny their Christian heritage and the very Biblical morality which emanates from the pages of Scripture. As I once heard it said, it is not about the terrorist, it is about our very soul. As Americans and as Christians if we approve of torture, what is next? Are we going to sacrifice what little remains of our sense of morality, and the few rights that we have after the next disastrous attack? Are we going to sacrifice our rights when the next politician, pastor, priest or minister says so? God forbid! For the surrendering and usurping of our rights should be viewed as though it were no different than the sin we cry out against. Let us be vigilant to defend the gift of liberty God has given us.