Saturday, May 2, 2009


I believe everything I wrote yesterday: torture is always wrong. No matter what.

However, last night I got to thinking about how very easy that is for me to say. I have never tortured anybody. I have never wanted to torture anybody. I have never even pulled the wings off a butterfly.

Nor am I in a position where I have the power to torture anybody, or to decide that anybody should be tortured, or to judge whether or not torture is legally permissible.

So, yes, torture is always wrong. But it's not something I've ever personally struggled with, so in making that judgment--the right judgment to make! and one that every Christian should agree with!--I can very easily slip into self-righteousness. I am right! (And I am, of course.) Those other Christians are wrong! (As indeed they are.) I am so much better than they are. (Whoa... not likely.)

Here's what I'm thinking I should do: pick a book of the Bible, any book. Read it for its big ideas. Try to identify its major ethical teachings, whether they are explicitly stated or implicit in the stories related. Look especially for areas where I clearly do not measure up. Ask myself why not, and see if I can do something about it--change an attitude, change a habit, add or subtract some activity, whatever.

I say I should do that. I don't know if I will. I expect it would be ever so much more difficult than saying torture is always wrong. Though of course it is very wrong, without exception.

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