Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Panic! Christian Moral Dilemma!

So Obama got Osama. Wow. Quite the hullabaloo in the papers and such.

The twisted spaghetti of political irony here is so rich, it's hard to know where to start. But I'll leave that alone, mostly. Needless to say, my favourite politcal narrative is making a huge comeback, i.e. "If only the big bad West would stop being nasty to poor Islamic cultures, they would stop attacking us..."

Well, of course. And if only we'd stop spraying water on bushfires, they would leave us alone. Islamic brutality towards others (and itself) began around 1,300 years ago. That's a little while before George Dubya's father was even born (I looked it up).

This particular narrative only seems to be useful when certain people are in power. In 2008 we were told that we were in the grip of conservative evil which must be stopped. Obama will save us from all this horrid warmongering. He's the lightgiver, the peacemaker, the hope bringer.

He will make us cool again. He will bring us free healthcare and pay our mortgage. He will make us popular with Muslims and poets and all the other people who hate us. He will bring racial harmony. He will continue to detain terror suspects without charge. He will carpet-bomb Libya with neither Congressional approval nor any kind of plan. He will order extra-judicial killings via incursions onto sovereign territories...

...oh wait...

So, those various media folks who assured us that Obama would never do those types of things which, personally, I quite respect him for, are now faced with a frustrating irony. Fortunately, they found something with which to distract themselves, and us: The alarming images of 'Murkans celebrating the death of Bin Laden.

You see? Those gun-totin', right wingin' 'Murkans are being evil again. They're celebrating someone's death. That's horrid. Martin Luther King and Jesus told us not to do stuff like that.

Whatever was the personal motivation for those on the fringe who made light of OBL's violent, gory death, I am not able to judge. Who knows, they might have actually been celebrating the countless lives that have been saved by OBL's messy demise.

What I do know is that the media machine will kick back into action- this time to convince us that such bloodthirstiness makes us no different than our enemies. That old narrative must be dusted off, and beefed up.

It must be etched into the hearts and minds of people, especially young people, everywhere. We must lament our own evil and not judge others. Only self-examination and guilt will bring peace (...just ignore all that stuff which proves Obama is not the saint we once said he was)...

One place where this narrative can have a field day is, sadly, the church. Churches can be a veritable smorgasbord of oft-naive compassion, just waiting to be exploited by those with a political agenda.

Christians have a very healthy habit of seeing all people through the prism of the only true equality we have- the equality of sin, and the equality of value in the eyes of God.

We are all forgiven. Osama was God's child, too. Jesus said "turn the other cheek", and "blessed are the peacemakers" and "love thy enemies".Yes. Yes He did say those things.

Osama was one of God's children. He just happened to be one who was responsible for mass murder. Jesus mentioned the word "repent" once or twice, too. Osama didn't repent. So he got shot by some soldiers.

Christians get this, mostly. But then we interprete Western jubilance at OBL's demise as something which renders us no better than the Jihadist brutality we are supposedly fighting. We do this impulsively because we confuse eternal equality with moral equivalence.

A bunch of 'Murkans being jubilant at the death of a mass murderer is as much a Christian non-issue as the cuss word I uttered last week after hitting my finger with a hammer.

It took a 10-year long manhunt to make the USA a little glib at the death of a wanted terrorist. Jihadist glee at the murder of innocents happens every week. Streets and city icons all across the Middle East are named after Islamic murderers and terrorists. Don't get me started on Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, and a few other places and people including ones currently being bombed by Obama. Here's a tip: Wait two weeks, then google "Bin Laden Street" and see how many hits come up.

You may have missed the murder of the Fogel family at the hands of Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank on March 11th. The media's excuse was the prevalence of the Japanese earthquakes. Fair enough, but I'm going to make the bold assumption that they wouldn't have wasted ink on it anyway. You would therefore also have missed the Palestinian celebration of the murders.

Perhaps you still want to argue that our cultures are equally corrupt and evil and that's the end of it. I've provided a mere snapshot of the evidence. Extremist Islamic cultural celebration of murder has a degree, depth and scope which is wide, far-reaching, and largely unreported by our media. Perhaps you refuse to accept this, and apply God's eternal equality to our harsh moral realities. That's fine. The fact is, we are free to debate this, and that's a good thing.

In the type of society desired by the Bin Ladens of the world, they are not free to do any such thing. Criticism of your own culture and government is the first thing that will get you killed. At the risk of sounding glib, the very fact that we are debating moral equivalence proves that there isn't any.

I'm going to have a risky crack at the Christian dilemma here: God views individuals as made equal by sin, and equal in precious value. Therefore, so should we. Societies and cultures however, are a different issue. In fact the Big Guy Himself was responsible for some capital punishment back in the day, when it came to cultures which celebrated brutality.

Well-meaning Christians might be genuinely struggling with the "correct Christian response" to this violence and counter-violence, as though we have some kind of default obligation to express outrage at whatever cause du jour invades our TV screens, and regardless of how ignorant we are of the important details.

The "correct Christian response" is, if you'll excuse the bluntness, to mind your own business. Literally. You see, when Jesus said all that stuff, he told YOU to do it. He didn't mean for you to go and tell someone else to do it. I think this bit here, from 2 Chronicles 7, is very interesting:

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Note the wording: if MY people...humble THEMselves...turn from THEIR wicked ways. That's us. Not them, out there. Us. OUR job is to testify God's grace through Christ. OUR job is to turn the other cheek. OUR job is to love our enemies.

On the other hand, the job of the US State Department, the CIA, the Marines, Mossad, Shin Bet, the Israeli Defence Forces, the SAS, our Diggers, and all those folks, is to protect our various backsides from terrorists and other existential threats. I'm not going to get into a Christian flap about how they achieve that.

In fact I'm rather grateful for those who are prepared to do unpleasant things on my behalf to keep me safe.

If you want to argue that ... go for it. Let's debate. Until we no longer have the freedom to do so, where's the dilemma?