I’m thinking of writing something about the rapture which is apparently happening tomorrow, but I just had to share this interview with Tim LaHaye from The Daily Beast (brought to my attention by Patrol):

…do you support waterboarding and other torture methods on prisoners?

When they kill 3,000 of our people or threaten to, you bet. I think that the president should have the right to say yes or no.

Isn’t that very un-Christian? By torturing people to get information, aren’t you being pretty elastic with the Bible?

[Long silence]

Hello?

I’m thinking. Can’t you smell the wood burning? [Long pause] I think that, in a case where you’re surrounded by murderers—enemies of people that have a record of having no respect for human life—you have to use extreme measures to protect the people. One of the first rules the president accepts is to protect the people of America. We’re not doing a very good job of it.

Wow. This follows a long conversation about what politicians do and don’t qualify as a Christians. LaHaye makes it clear how important it is for people like him to police others:

One thing you have to distinguish is those who claim they’re Christians, but who’ve never had an experience with Jesus. They’re usually people that hardly ever go to church, hardly ever read the Bible, but rather than be atheists or nothing, they say they’re a Christian. Well, that doesn’t make you a Christian.

I suppose the thing to do would be torture them! But my question is, if our “enemies” don’t have any respect for human life, and we don’t have any respect for the human lives of our enemies…

then who is supposed to count as a Christian?

LaHeye falls victim to the othering for which many of us are guilty. We have all sorts of beautiful ethical standards for how we’re supposed to treat fellow believers, but when it comes to our enemies, they don’t qualify. I have friends who feel this way and it’s heartbreaking to see the absolute refusal of one person to acknowledge the humanity of a group of people they’ve never met and who they’ve only learned about through the evening news and people like David Horowitz. One of LaHeye’s qualifiers for who counts as a Christian is people who read their Bible. I’d love to refresh people’s memories with a few verses now:

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:14,17-21

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. – Luke 6:32-35

As a footnote, I’m not arguing this from the idea that people get their just deserts anyway. I’m saying that these are absolutes which we’re supposed to follow regardless. The point of Christianity is not to make excuses for the existing injustices (like LaHeye is trying to do). As John Dominic Crossan would say, it is radical egalitarianism to counter the existing wrongs which can only be addressed through a paradoxical, illogical approach.

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