It isn’t easy being both an American and a Christian sometimes…maybe most of the time. At least that is my experience. This is particularly true when it comes to matters like protecting America. Case in point word that we have captured Al Qaeda’s top Iraqi leader (or thereabouts) in Iraq.
Part of me jumps to thoughts of making sure that we get from him all the information we can to protect American troops and protect Americans here at home…no matter the methods. America and Americans need to be protected, my gut reaction goes. Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (aka Abu Shahid) is a very bad man responsible for the deaths of countless Iraqis and Americans and unfathomable suffering. He deserves the worst.
My mind jumps to interrogation images from 24 or from Alias or even Lost and I think, yes, that’s it, that is what he deserves. He deserves to be slapped around, scared, threatened. He deserves to be tortured. That feels right. It feels like revenge. It feels good.
But then there is that still, small voice that whispers, No. “No, he is priceless to me,” I hear, “he is my child, my son, I love him. Treat him kindly. Do to him what he has not done to others. Love him. I do.” That, I am convinced is God’s voice speaking. How un-American it sounds.
So I am embarrassed and convicted yet again that my faith is so small and my estimation of who God is is even smaller.
I am rescued though by the knowledge that I can be forgiven. So too should Abu Shahid be forgiven – even if he hasn’t yet asked for it.
If we are a country or a people that supports or benefits from torture we are not a country or a people to be admired. To torture is to reinforce a most primal notion – a most animalistic urge. But we are supposed to be better than that.
And so my faith comes into tension yet again with my earthly citizenship. My faith comes into tension with my base desires. It is a good tension to keep.