Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sad Things

I have been doing some reading of various opinions about the Iraq War and the so-called war on terrorism. It isn't a pretty picture.

One thing that has become very disturbing is the propensity to play chicken with sin. Many tactics are being employed by the American military in order to extract information. Some Christians seem quite comfortable with this, apparently wanting to justify it with a certain "ends justifies the means" argument. They think it courageous to want to debate the finer points of what constitutes torture and what is justified in extracting information.

This of course runs exactly counter Jesus' teaching. Jesus did not commend to us a process of seeing how close we can get to the line without crossing it. Rather he told us to hold to his teaching. Any process that tries to see how we might go about doing what we feel justified in doing without being overtly disobedient is sophistry, and closer to the spirit of the Pharisee than to the Holy Spirit.

One of the most facile justifications is that "I am sorry but they started it." Now Americans will likely find my next statement repugnant because I am Canadian and 9/11 "didn't happen to me," but it must be said: Jesus said "turn the other cheek." He did not say we would be justified in hitting back. Love your enemies, pray for them, yes. Hit them back, no.

Some might wish to point to the scale of 9/11, but that really is a bogus argument. No one has ever been more justified for retaliating against personal attacks, for no one has suffered more or more severe ones, than God. God the Father sent God the Son to reconcile the world to Himself. In short the War on Iraq, as it is nothing more than a pretense for vengeance, and a false pretense at that (no WMD) cannot be supported by Christians.

Another simplistic reason for supporting the war is the "fact" that Christians make up a good size chunk of the armed forces. This is also false. We should support the troops in prayer for safety, that they will be proper agents of reconciliation, that they will not compromise their Christian witness. Should we support them in the sense of giving approval if they do breach their witness or do harm? No. If they sin then we need to simply say that they need to repent and offer them forgiveness and help so that they do not lapse into further sin.

It is also unfortunate that some try to make false comparisons in justifying torture. One blogger mentioned that we don't send surgeons to the Haag when they inflict pain and suffering as a means to an end. This argument is offered after pointing out the definition of torture involves coercion. Patients submit to surgery willingly.

This particular blogger has a habit of making this kind of argument. It involves going from a specific situation allegedly analogous to the one under discussion (ostensibly for "clarity") to a general principle. That general principle is justified and then is then used to justify, not the allegedly analogous situation, but the one under discussion. Of course if the analogous situation is not analogous at all, the argument does not work. As noted the blogger fails to provide a truly analogous situation.

IT is very sad that we actually do manage to live down to the caricatures that Muslim extremists have of us. If we were more Christlike, I have no doubt that things would be better.

No doubt some will say that Christians should expect to be hated. That is true, but they are to be hated for being Christlike. No one I think would argue that Muslims hate the US for its being an exceptionally Christian nation.

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