Non-Violence as a Standard

Comment taken from NP’s blog ‘the torture memo’s & Int’l accountability’

Non violence is the notion of the NT – it is the path taught by Jesus beyond question. Steve’s one scripture he pulls out from Luke is a single passage in 27 books and letters – and I think FIF is right about it -why? If this was the standard Jesus left them (take up the sword and defend those around u) how come in Acts they don’t follow such a path? Paul should of been meting out punishment – not evangelism to Roman guards. Then we have Peter and others being killed – with no scripture to back up the idea of ‘justice by the sword’ – thye preferred to be martyrs over murderers.

However, I know this is a complex issue – defending yourself. This is my take:

(a) The standard set is non-violence – this is the path of Jesus – this is also his teachings to his desciples.

(b) Even with that teaching – we know the best basis to follow is non-violence – however – at times – we need to defend people for the sake of their safety – although this is not the standard – we admit this is our deviation from the standard for justifiable reasons (of the which we must present for each time we do this). Is that wrong? Depends on one’s motive.

(c) Can a Christian support torture? No. If so, scripture to back that point would help – as it stands – no one has presented a single piece of proof from within the life of Jesus (or Paul) that could so much as defend that position…so it won’t neccesarily hold water in God’s court (if he goes by judicial decisions like that – and I look at God’s court as a court).

(d) The gov’t can do whatever it wants – regardless of how we view it – we are not of that kingdom anyways – we are of God’s kingdom and not ‘of this world’. Should we loosen our morals for the sake of support of our gov’t? No. I see no reason to support ideas on torture we cannot find one iota of proof to support from a NT standpoint. A deviation from that standard is in ‘us’ – not in the scriptures.

(e) It is true the world contains a lot of ‘evil’ – but to think more ‘repayment for that evil’ will solve the situation is not measuring the situation very well. Evil for evil will not end any cycles of violence anytime soon – what ends scenarios like that is actually the path of non-violence – including measures of forgiveness, mercy, understanding, diplomacy, and peace. Violence is a result of anger – we need to be addressing the real issue which are just that – anger being fueld over and over…and gitmo did not make that sitaution any smoother.

The problem it seems to me is the disconnect between action and consequence going on in many of the convo’s. People acting as if non-violence is not an answer – but I am not saying we don’t get involved – let’s not pass into the idea of how much violence we will use – because that’s dangerous ‘evil’ territory – allow a little in and soon we are talking about how much gunshots fired into a person is ‘normal’? The standard for the use of violence is quite vague don’t ya think? As compared to non-violence as the standard – we are sure what is being asked of us (no amount of violence is neccesarily the starting point).

I know for a fact the way of Jesus does work – I use it all the time – a standard of peacemaking and not violence. I have broken up around 30 fights in the last 8 years – in some fairly intense situations – including weapons…what should be a good Christian ethic in scenario of violence. Always should start with peace – making things right – stepping in to break up violent acts and pursuing ways to not see people hurt. Does it always work – 30 of 30 times I stepped in to stop or prevent something – it worked. Now maybe the next time I get stabbed or something – I don’t know – but at least I know I hold a standard that does work – tried, tested, and results.

I hear talk of killing home invaders – why is this the only answer? Some shots into the villian as the just response? Why is the worst level of violence going to be the obvious answer to an attack on your family? I almost have to think some of you have never been in these situations or don’t know people that have perpetrated them. I keep a bat by my bed in case of such scenarios (to protect my wife and I) – but is my thought of killing the perp? No. Hurt him, stop him, scare him, or whatever – but death is far from my idea of ‘keeping my family safe’…because I would consider the death of the home invader as murder – but that’s my standard…I don’t seek death for that person – just boundaries be set.

I think the convo has delved into Christian people sitting too close to violence and too far from their personal admission they would do something if pressured to ‘help someone’. Always seek peace – set a standard becoming of a Christian – be the change that is not there. Know that violence may happen – but ‘admit’ it is our personal deviation of our known standard – and in the end – we will find we are non-violent almost 10 times out of 10.

***Some of my ideas on non-violence as a path to live by

29 thoughts on “Non-Violence as a Standard

  1. I am absolutely surprised that i found Christians defending ideas of torture – now that’s playing fast and loose with interpretation.

    But, and to be perfectly honest, Christians could find justification for about any evil and call it good – was something, unbelievably, Jesus taught against and Christainity is so nieve to forget it…how many times do we have to read Jesus calling people hypocrites in the NT to make sense of what he is saying?

    Matt 23:27 “For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”

  2. Is not you using a bat on your home invader to disable him a kind of torture? How is that different than a country using various means of pressure to protect invaders of it? Seems like the definition of torture may be important to the discussion. I am not defending torture by any means. I support non-violent paths to resolution as the best road to travel, but I also support some level of the defense of self. Jesus did not teach that we let others just trample us without regard for self. I just want to make sure you are not carrying a double standard around, Jason.

    Also, what does one do at that point when you are so far backed into the corner that the only choice becomes non-violence and obliteration or self-defense?

  3. craziness… you have Christians owning guns because of the 2nd Amendment thus ignoring Jesus’s prohibition against carry’n a staff (the first century “glock” if you will). thus we are largely governed by our culture and legal code than we are a theistic morality (i just posted this at DeCon.. good article there).

    if you want to fully walk the way of Christ, you have radical nonviolence. if someone breaks into your home and tries to take something, i’d think that Jesus would suggest you help him or her load the stuff and the offer them anything that they missed. (remember that whole “asks for your cloak, offer your shirt” dealie?). but Jesus is clever… he’s actually providing a means of defense here!

    if you’re asked to walk a mile, Jesus says you walk two. going over and above the request shames the person making the request. you can’t steal someone who isn’t attached to their stuff… (paraphrase of a buddhist quote). nor can you kill someone that is immortal. that doesn’t mean you go around willy-nilly killing people because in the long run they can’t die… NO NO NO! we have to respect creation and be co-creators… the whole dominion over the world thing in genesis is a responsibility to defend and sustain the planet, not destroy it by bending it to our own purposes.

    torture can’t be defended in a christian ethic. i struggle to see how it can be defended period. there are plenty of studies out there that show how information gather through torture is very unreliable and wouldn’t stand in a court of law today (unless that court is a military one… that’s another story).

  4. Luke. If Jesus was always about “help[ing] him or her load the stuff” then why did Peter have a sword in the garden? Dont’ you think Peter would have learned by then, after 3 years following this guy around, that sword-carrying was not what he was about, if in fact he was not about it at all?

    I’m not as sure that never using a sword is any more advisable than using one all the time.

  5. Been thinking about this some more as I ran intervals over lunch. You guys are claiming that there is absolutely no justification for torture. As I have pointed out, you have to define torture so that we all know what is on the table. There is a line somewhere with what is acceptable. If you mean no coersion of any kind, then I have to disagree at some level. If you mean physical harm, then I probably agree with you.

    Jason says there is no NT justification, that God is all about non-violence. I’m no so sure. What about the sense of justice which we all have that I believe is God derived? NT Wright believes present our sense of justice almost as evidence for God. And how does that play into the philosophical question of coersion against one or a few in order to save the lives of many? It is not nearly as clear cut a proposition and you guys are making it out to be.

  6. I keep thinking of stuff so I am just going to keep throwing it out there. I’m sure you guys will gang up on me and blast me later after you get caught up on my rhetoric. In fact, I fully expect the wrath of The Canon to reign down upon me. Bring it on.

    I have no problem with the application of coersive pressure to individuals who have chosen to engage in activities with the intent to harm. Physical harm, which is what I think I would consider to be the definition of torture, is another issue altogether, and I would not support that at all. But the US is not dealing with dudes that are stealing stereos. These guys are out to kill as many as possible. They have put themselves on a different playing field. They have committed acts that are considered to be acts of ware. For us to treat them like pansies is sticking our heads in the sand. I agree with you that non-violence is the best path. But giving dealing with terrorists by giving them a frowny face sticker is stupid.

  7. Doug, here is my point explicitly – more or less:

    “we know the best basis to follow is non-violence – however – at times – we need to defend people for the sake of their safety – although this is not the standard – we admit this is our deviation from the standard for justifiable reasons” (Svs)

    I am anti-violence pretty much all the way – in honesty – see very little justification for actions of violence upon another from someone swearing to keep the NT standards…sounds rigid – it is and it isn’t.

    The isn’t part: Let’s say the idea of non-violence is the judicial ruling by which we swear to live by – makes sense. However, there are times when we have to advocate the use of violence upon another – for the sake of safety…and these cases are to be admitted/confessed as the exception to the rule/standard…

    What does it mean? Non violence by any means neccesary – but if neccesary – we must present a justifiable reason for our actions – to others and to our community. The community should know we acted over and above the standard and deviated away for it for a ‘just’ reason – a viable way of thinking for a moment of time. Is this a justification of violence…no. The standard is to live by non-violence but sometimes we have to act in accordance with a violent situation – and admit we acted against the best for this world (but then again – the situatiion wasn’t the best so…).

    This is how I advocate a path of non-violence – keep it as the basic standard I swear to keep and follow – throughout my life – and if broken – has to be justifiable to me and the others around me.

    Why is the standard – oath – of any meaning? Because of this point “let’s not pass into the idea of how much violence we will use – because that’s dangerous ‘evil’ territory – allow a little in and soon we are talking about how much gunshots fired into a person is ‘normal’? The standard for the use of violence is quite vague don’t ya think?”

    And this is where I approach an idea like torture and come up quite sure on what I am to think – because my standard will not allow such transgressions as ‘normal’. Torture is quite abnormal – ask any psychologist.

    Now if we are talking about the American gov’t ‘torturing’ individuals – then we must start from the basics of Christian ethics ‘ treat others how you want to be treated’…what if that was you or perhaps your child in those circumstances? Would you vastly approve of any means for a confession? If you approve of it for them – then you also approve of it for yourself (that’s Jesus’ standard on human ethics).

    The problem with torture also is it can become a useless endeavor. You’re talking about something you may not know much about Doug (and myself also) – so how can you so handidly approve of it?

  8. I didn’t say I approved of it. But I am not hands down going to make a blanket statement saying that these guys should not be pressured like hell to tell what they know. Physical torture? No way I will condone that even though those guys have caused plenty of it and would do it eagerly again if given the chance. But trying to get them to crack under pressure, I don’t think I have much of a problem with it, keeping in mind what you have said above and with which I agree, that deviating from the path of non-violence is sometimes necessary under extreme circumstances. The charge of the US government is to protect its citizens and their interests. Strategically pressuring individuals who have engaged in acts of terroism against said citizens and interest is the obligation of the US government. And this is where the definition of torture comes in, and you still have not given yours. We can’t just throw that word around and assume everybody thinks it means the same thing. I agree with you that torture is abnormal. I am certainly not OK with counting the number of bullets that you put into somebody. If that is what you mean by torture, I am not at all in support of it. But I am OK with pressuring terrorists for whatever information they will surrender.

    You say I don’t know much about torture so how can I support it. I don’t know much about it and don’t support it across the board. You don’t know much about it either so how can you just dismiss anything that gets haphazardly labeled as torture by some reporter or talking head?

  9. “You don’t know much about it either so how can you just dismiss anything that gets haphazardly labeled as torture by some reporter or talking head?” (Doug)

    I’ve seen a few docs and done some reading – I havent witnessed any torture but I am aware of the techinques used. From waterboarding to sleep deprivation to sound/light auditory stimuli to humiliation to bound positions for hours. Torture is all of these things – which includes mental, physical, and emotional aspects – all combined.

    All of those things I cannot agree with nor support – because torture is about how they effect the senses and perceptions of an individual. Interrogation is not torture – nor is confinement (if by law) – but once you step over that line into coercing someone (mentally, emotionally, or physically) into a confession you start getting things labeled as facts that just are not so.

    Torture is anything that crosses the line of physical, mental, and emotional pain being inflicted upon a person in more than one session – to coerce the individual into what you want. Someone look up the wiki or websters definiton – bet I am close.

    I have mentioned more than enough tactics above – and there are more – that can be used to make someone say anything you need them to. Law enforcement know this – that’s why many cases get repealled for evidence by coercion. Now these detainees in Guantanemo had it much worse than most really know – and I bet most of what they say is without any merit. Problem is – what if they gave good evidence and still continued to be tortured for more? At what point does the torturer know what is valid and what isn’t – so they can stop torturing the person? They don’t. Some of these folks in Gitmo have been there over 800 days – tortured for like 1/2 or more of that sentence…driving at least one person insane/mentally unstable.

    I am sorry but torture does not work – unless you’re looking for a slave.

  10. “I am sorry but torture does not work – unless you’re looking for a slave.” (John)

    Jason, you know as well as I do that there is a mountain of evidence supporting both sides of this. The evidence can be made to say anything you want it to. And whether you want to deny it or not, while there is crap information that comes from coercive techniques, there is also valuable information that comes from coercive techniques. You can’t stand on your above statement for anything other than your opinion. It is what it is no matter what any of us say about it. If you don’t approve of coercive techniques even if they do bring about some valuable information, then fine. Say that. But don’t pick and chose the information that is advantageous to your opinion to shoot down the whole lot. That’s dishonest, Brother.

    These are extreme circumstances. Individuals that choose to engage in terrorism have picked a high stakes game. As I said before, these guys are just stealing stereos. And to use the same system for terrorists that delivers justice to the stereo swipers is unfair and reckless. I have no problem with these guys being mentally and psychologically pressured to tell what they know in hopes of gaining something of valuable. Humiliation, beatings, physical pain, however, agree are off limits. And how do you know when to stop? You decide ahead of time. You say we are only going to put each dude through this much. If they crack, great. We’ll check out their information, and see if it stands up. If they don’t, we’re done. Humiliation and other things that are inhumane need not be apart of the equation. These guys chose to play this way. These guys chose to go after innocent civilians. These guys would do it again if given the chance. It is inhumane on our part not to stop it.

    I don’t think that mental and psychological pressure, sleep deprivation, lights and auditory stimuli is inhumane. I think your definition of torture is probably right, and I have verified it by looking it up. So I would have to say that I reluctantly approve of this type of torture under these extreme circumstances where the crime is against humanity itself. For individual crimes. No way. That is a completely different ball game.

  11. This discussion is too funny. If people cant see that torture is just that, “TORTURE”. If you want to use it to get some info off someone be my guest, but dont delude yourself into thinking anything other than what you are doing. TORTURING. As far as being “Christian” and thinking its ok, I have just one thing to say. DUHHHHHH

  12. Doug………..whats to debate? Honestly! First I will call you on being a “Christian”. In any sense, Torture and Christian do not go together, unless you are Christ. Secondly I will ask you how you think it can be ok on any level if you want to be called democratic and a lover of freedom? Sorry Im a little ornery today. 😦

  13. Doug

    I posted this on Naked Pastor the other day. This guy summed it up nicely.

    This article couldnt have been more better timed.

    Eric Margolis…. Sun Media. April 26

    Nations that use torture disgrace themselves. Armed forces and police that torture inevitably become brutalized and corrupted. “Limited” use of torture quickly becomes generalized. Information obtained by torture is mostly unreliable.

    I learned these maxims observing or covering dirty “pacification” wars, from Algeria to Indochina, Central and South America, southern Africa, the Mideast, Afghanistan, and Kashmir.

    All this historical evidence notwithstanding, the Bush administration encouraged torture of anti-American militants (a.k.a. terrorists) after the 9/11 attacks. The full story has not been revealed, but what we know so far is revolting and shameful.

    Many Americans want the Bush administration officials who employed and sanctioned torture to face justice. President Barack Obama hinted the attorney general might investigate this whole ugly business.

    Republicans, who have become America’s champions of war and torture, are fiercely resisting any investigation and lauding torture’s benefits. So too are some senior intelligence officials.

    Torture is a crime under U.S. law. It is a crime under the Third Geneva Convention, and the UN’s anti-torture convention, both of which the U.S. signed. Kidnapping and moving suspects to be tortured in third countries is a crime. Torture violates core American values.

    In 1945, the U.S. hanged Japanese officers for war crimes for inflicting “water-boarding” (near drowning) on U.S. prisoners — exactly what the CIA inflicted on its Muslim captives.

    FBI agents rightly refused to participate in the torture of al-Qaida suspects, warning it violated U.S. law and could make them subject to future prosecution.

    Republicans and even Obama’s intelligence chief, Admiral Dennis Blair, claim some useful information was obtained by torture. That depends on what you call useful. al-Qaida is still in business. Osama bin Laden remains at large. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became monstrous fiascos costing $1 trillion. Torture did not protect America from a second major attack. The 9/11 tragedy was a one-off event, and al-Qaida has only a handful of extremists. Administration claims about dirty bombs and germs were lies.


    The CIA’s “useful” torture information came from two suspects: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured by near drowning 183 times — six times daily for a month; and Abu Zubaydah, 83 times in August 2003.

    Give me Dick Cheney, a power drill (a favourite “investigative” tool of America’s Iraqi Shia allies) and 30 minutes and I’ll have him admit he’s Osama bin Laden.

    A U.S. Senate report just revealed that after the Bush administration could not find the links it claimed between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, it tried, in best Soviet style, to torture an admission of these non-existent links from its captives.

    The Senate reported CIA and Pentagon torture techniques were adopted from torture methods North Korea used in the 1950s to compel American prisoners to admit to lies about germ warfare.

    In fact, North Korea learned its torture techniques from Soviet KGB instructors. KGB’s favourite tortures in the 1930s and ’40s were merciless beatings, confinement in refrigerated cells, week-long sleep deprivation and endless interrogations. The CIA and U.S. military copied these but added contorted positions and nakedness and humiliation, techniques reportedly copied from Israeli interrogators who used them to blackmail Palestinian prisoners into becoming informers. Hence all the naked photos from Abu Ghraib prison.


    Torture was authorized by President George W. Bush, VP Dick Cheney, secretaries Don Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice. Four lickspittle lawyers and two bootlicking attorneys general provided sophistic legal briefs sanctioning torture. All should face an independent judicial commission.

    Now, Obama claims he won’t prosecute the torturers because they were following proper legal advice and orders. So did Nazi officials who killed millions. Nazi lawyers legally dismembered Germany’s Weimar democracy and imposed Nazi dictatorship in only two months after the “terrorist attack” on the Reichstag in Feb. 1933.

    When I served in the U.S. Army I was taught that any illegal order, even from the president, must be refused.

    Have we learned nothing from the 1940s? Show the world America upholds the law and rejects these foul violations of human rights and decency.

  14. John. Haven’t read the long comment yet. I will do it the very next thing. We are talking about extreme, extreme circumstances. Take every day common criminal acts off the table. Take wars in the traditional sense off the table. These are people who have participated in, planned, condoned, and recruited for horrific acts against very large numbers of innocent people and continue to do so. This is extreme stuff. And we are forced to deal with it in multiple ways. We don’t have the option of sitting by and doing nothing. We are forced to act, to make a decision about what to do. And much of the time that decision is between hell and more hell as the two options. Ignoring the decision does not make it go away.

  15. John. It is a good article. Thanks for putting it up for me. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not in favor of most of what this article refers to: dismemberment, humiliation, nakedness, beatings of any kind, waterboarding, etc. That is inhumane. I would not support it under any circumstances. I would never be in support of probably 85% of what is considered to be torture. But I’m also not going to fall for mainly emotional claims tied to the word “torture” itself. I am kind of surprised to find out that many people think things like sleep deprivation and pressured interrogation are included in acts of torture. Those things seem to me to what you should expect from your captors if you are a terrorist and get caught.

    I respect you for calling me on the Christian thing. I don’t refer to myself as that much because I don’t go along with much of what traditional popular Christianity stands for these days so I doubt you have seen me refer to myself that way. But there is not doubt that I do my best to see Christ as a guide for my life. It could very well be that I really need to do some serious examination of myself here. Maybe I do have a big glaring incongruency that I need to resolve.

    Let me ask you something that seems contradictory about you. It is often said of right wing Christians that it is not congruent to stand against abortion and for capital punishment. I agree completely. Well I would suggest the opposite is also true here. It doesn’t seem congruent to stand for abortion but against torture.

  16. I didn’t answer your question on democracy and freedom. I am a lover of freedom for all. But these guys who did these things do not have that same respect for it. They have chosen to surrender their freedom. I have no problem playing hard ball with them. It’s the game they asked for, and while I am do think there is a definite limit to how far we should go down that road, I don’t think these guys deserve to have their freedom any more than someone who murders here in the US. They have chosen to roll the dice with it, and now it is taken from them because they have misused it. I don’t see at all how my willingness for them to be dealt with strongly takes away from my defense of freedom. I don’t think they should have freedom. I think they squandered it.

    One of the things that bothers me about this debate is that it gets so emotional. People don’t seem to be able to pick it apart and get rid of the labels. We say “Oh that’s torture” and so it is. Some guy in the press lumps in sleep deprivation and torture in the same sentence so now that’s torture. Before you know it not giving them dessert is torture. It just seems to me to get so ridiculous. Come on. These are bag dudes that did horrible stuff. While we shouldn’t treat them viciously and inhumanely, I don’t think we need to be their Mommies either.

    Lastly, I think statements like this are a cop out and actually harm our ability to take responsibility for ourselves: ““Limited” use of torture quickly becomes generalized.” That is a cop out. It doesn’t automatically become generalized. It doesn’t have to become generalized. This statement treats it like there is not option. Once we start down that path we lose control of ourselves. I don’t buy that. We can be in as much control of ourselves as we choose to be. That is a statement of weakness and irresponsibility.

  17. Doug

    I dont profess to know the right thing either way. I just take issue with so called Christians blabbing about the Love of Christ and then suggesting we Torture to get things to go “our” way. This reference isnt directed at you, but some other ones I was bantering with on Naked Pastor. I know I have it in me to do the torturing if necessary, what bugs me is the fact that the ones who suggest it dont have the balls to do it themselves.

  18. “Dont’ you think Peter would have learned by then, after 3 years following this guy around, that sword-carrying was not what he was about, if in fact he was not about it at all?” -Doug

    and that’s why Jesus called him “the rock” cause he was a little dense and didn’t quite get it.

    as for what is torture… you can pressure someone all you want, but the moment you deprive them of sleep or start harm’n them physically… plus it’s not very neighborly and we’re called to love our enemies and shelter the stranger.

    nonviolence is hard row to tow, much harder than the violent option. i don’t expect you to accept it uncritically.. my vocabulary is wrote with violence! plus i need to be prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse. and there’s a quote from a quaker preacher down the road here that said “how do you negotiate with Nazi’s… you don’t negotiate with Nazi’s you shoot them.” same with zombies. but this follows the “just war” idea… not the “just peace” idea popular in UCC circles…

    “”just peace” as the interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence. The pronouncement called the church to a vision of shalom rooted in peace with justice and placed the UCC General Synod in opposition to the institution of war.

    the more i study the bible.. the more i know about global issues.. the more i know about US international actions… the more and more i stand against the military industrial complex, concerns with self-defense, and violence in general. if you always keep that option in your back pocket, odds are you’ll bring it out at the least opportune time. going on the basis that we are limited and rather sinful people.

    so in the very few absolutes i hold in my life… this is one of them. no torture and as little violence as you can possibly get away with.. and after you act, reflect and see how you can cut down on violence even more!

    *off soap box.

    good discussion so far… but I can’t see how we can support any form of torture because we’re all “bad guys” to someone. we all have our enemies.

  19. Luke, John, Jason. I want to say that I apologize if I have come across biting. Not my intent. for some reason even that is a bit of a surprise to me, this has lit a spark in me. I don’t completely understand why. Maybe it is because I have not really thought all that much about it and need to. So in a way I feel maybe I am dealing with an issue that I never have dealt with before. Sometimes thinking through those things have been traumatic as I work to change the position of my compass as Luke talked about recently. It’s rough. But I think I am understanding it a bit more tonight. However, I am tired and going to bed. I have a quote from Frank Schaeffer that is pertinent to the discussion that I want to put out there and explain a bit tomorrow. So I will be back. I will probably post it on my blog too.

    John. Well said. I feel the same.
    Luke. As always you have stated a strong position graciously.

    Not to be too mushy but I love you guys. Good night.

    • it’s a freak’n hard issue dude… we (i.e. the canon) should expect some push back and not to agree on everything.

      i love this discussion and hope to add more to it later when i get the chance… but like John T said… that did bring a tear to my eye and a round must be bought at a later date.

      RAWK! TTYL

  20. Good morning, Dudes. One thing I notice is that only the canon has commented on this post. What does that say? Maybe nothing. Just interesting.

    I am going to put a quote from Frank Schaeffer’s “Crazy For God” here because I think it pertinent. I feel that what bothers me about this is that the statements that have been made against any and all torture seem to be blanket statements based on an ideology without any question. That bothers me in general because I feel that turning complex, non-black and white issues into black and white issues is in some ways an absolver of responsibility. From Schaeffer’s book, page 347, where he is discussing the abortion issue, especially the politicizing of it and the expectation that there is a stance of ideological purity that is correct:

    “But what if absolute consistency on any issue from the left or the right, religious or secular, is an indication of mediocre intelligence and a lack of intelligence and a lack of intellectual honesty? What if the world is a complex place? What if leadership requires flexibility? What if ideology is a bad substitute for common sense? What if ideological consistency, let alone ‘purity,’ is a sign of small-mindedness, maybe even stupidity?’

    What bothers me is the way this debate on torture in general seems just as divided along ideological and political lines as the abortion debate or the capital punishment debate, and when that happens, people quit thinking for themselves on it. It becomes about towing the ideological line. In general, I do not support torture in any form. And I certainly don’t support it when a single individual is using it to leverage another single individual. But we don’t have that here. We have a government battling ultimately extreme circumstances to protect its citizens. And while torture unChristian and does not follow the example Christ set with his life, the US government by its very Constitution is not bound by a Christian ethic any more than it is bound by a Hindu ethic or a Buddhist ethic or an Islamic ethic or a Jewish ethic or a Wicken ethic. It is bound by its charge to protect the welfare and interests of its citizens. Using any elements of torture is always tragic, but under such circumstances I am willing to at least consider that some things which are considered to be torture such as sleep deprivation and pressured interrogation and light/sound stimuli may actually be beneficial to the greater good which in this case is causing a bit of stress on a few to save the lives of many. That is a bit of a universalist philosophical slant instead of the deontological slant which you guys all seem to ascribe to, but to me, I think it works under these extreme circumstances.

    I am going to post a follow-up comment on my own blog on a post about this very thing. Not trying to hijack Jason’s post. Just adding to the discussion.

  21. This is a challenging topic, but I see some of the distinctions as these:

    – Jesus didn’t use violence to defend himself, but he used violence to defend the sanctity of the temple by whipping out the moneylenders.
    – Jesus’ apostles didn’t use violence to defend themselves, either, following Jesus’ teachings in that regard.

    But, did Jesus ever speak out against serving in war if you nation calls you to do so? I don’t recall any such thing. Did he speak out against city guards in maintaining the order? No.

    So, one might surmise that Jesus doesn’t want us to use violence to defend ourselves, would prefer that violence be used not at all, but leaves open that we might need to use violence in defence of the innocent, our families/friends, our nations, etc.

    I would think, though, that this also suggests the following

    – I think we should use non-violent or the least violent means to do that.

    Also, just as a side point, and apologies if anyone else already noted it, SoceityVs, but while I don’t own any guns (not ruling it out, either), and have at times had an aluminum bat under the bed…one must remember that folks don’t necessarily break into the home with just their hands or hand-to-hand weapons. Sometimes, they come with guns, and defending one’s family may have to include the notion that you should not gamble their safety on assumptions that all home invaders can be dealt with in close combat.

    No judging you, because obviously I don’t arm myself with firearms either…just saying that we need to keep some context.

  22. I appreciate the many comments Doug – and we are free to disagree on this – in fact – we need to (to follow up more on Schaffers point) – because in the disagreeance we find out more about the issue at hand and can make the best judgment this way…makes sense to me.

    Also thanks Blue for the comment.

    I don’t think in terms of ill will in an argument Doug – never have – how am I ever supposed to hear all sides of a debate if I do such a thing?

  23. “That is a bit of a universalist philosophical slant instead of the deontological slant which you guys all seem to ascribe to, but to me, I think it works under these extreme circumstances.” -Doug

    i see what you’re saying here. but would we have the same standards for our own citizens? what would happen if the person we tortured was innocent (as so often happens)? there are too many what if’s here.

    it’s like the death penalty for me, not abortion. if you speak of abortion you must bring in poverty and urban blight into the picture and the legal aspect of it is largely left out. but the death penalty is much more congruent with torture. both, i see, deny the love of neighbor, the shelter of the stranger, and a chance to atone for the sins commited and resurrect. for me, this is pretty clear… although i do understand all the grey areas involved here… it’s not black and white by any means.. but from my vantage… there is less grey matter here.

  24. I ascribe to something luke said “so in the very few absolutes i hold in my life… this is one of them. no torture and as little violence as you can possibly get away with.. and after you act, reflect and see how you can cut down on violence even more!” – Couldn’t agree more!

    The thing about torture is none of us would likely do it and without some kind of common denominator we lack to understand this more fully – IMO.

    However, I’ll get as close as I can get.

    For example, let’s say the city I live in starts to round up the people in gangs and label them as ‘terrorists’…most of us might say little. Problem is – I am actually friends with some of those people – now let’s say they decide to pick me up for association. Still okay. Now let’s say they torture me as hard as the people involved in the gangs – basically because I know of them or know them in some aspect. Is the torture fair?

    This happened in many of the circumstances in the MIddle East – people knew people and they all get rounded up – no matter if they are actually guilty – just guilty by association. This is the problem with the tacit approval of the regime that does that torturing – how can we be sure they are not making a lot of mistakes in the people they are rounding up? How much mistakes is okay? 50%? 30%? 15%? 8%? Even at 8% – this might mean 80 people in that prison being tortured are fully not guilty – since there is no trial – torture is allowed anyways – they are guilty by the mere fact they were picked up.

    This is the problem for me – on a gov’t scale – concerning support of such a system for getting information. The gov’t is free to do what it deems neccesary I guess – but there is just no way I can support the torturing of innocents.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s