Joe Carter (a fifteen year vet of the Marine Corp, just fyi) has a very interesting essay about waterboarding this morning on the Evangel blog: Do Only Radical Pacifists Oppose Torture?. It is the first really interesting post in a while on Evangel and it gets to the heart of a deeply troubling issue for Christians. He also takes a shot at American conservatism as being inherently pagan, so I expect some serious sparks to fly:
To this list Solzhenitsyn could add American conservatism: The movement is increasingly becoming a pagan-influenced ideology, providing long-sought justification for evildoing and providing us the steadfastness and determination to do what we know is wrong and the boldness to call evil good.
Ouch! You mean being an economic conservative and opposing gay marriage & abortion doesn’t make me a Christian?
It wasn’t long ago that I could confidently say that I had zero qualms about waterboarding someone. After all, these guys weren’t grabbed off the streets of Baghdad or Cairo for no reason, they were captured in combat against U.S. forces. These are bad people and they deserve what they get. Issues of efficiency and international law aside, is this something we should support as Christians no matter how effective it might be or whether it prevents another terrorist attack? That is a hard question and one that deserves more than a knee-jerk, flag waving response from one who claims the name of Christ.
One quibble I would have is where Joe says:
The reason that there is a long history of just warfare theory but no corresponding “just torture theory” is because torture is inherently antithetical to justice and morality.
The mere existence and widespread acceptance of a doctrine of “Just War” in no way validates it and I have to say that I am having a serious crisis of conscience where this is concerned. Can the state wage war? Certainly (see Romans 13: 1-7 ). Should a Christian be involved in doing so or be supportive of war? That I am not so sure of anymore. We are culturally conditioned as Americans to see the interests of America as synonymous with the interests of the Gospel. However, ours is a “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” kind of faith, not a “get them before they get you” or “if they put on of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue” kind of faith. That might be “the Chicago way” but it is not The Way.
Good essay and thought provoking, you should check it out.