October 2001


Killing in the name of God...hatred for the cause of their faith...finding delight in another's suffering.  What kind of faith annihilates thousands, oppresses its own people, and proclaims a divine origin for its terrorist actions?

Not even the all-loving, all-merciful Allah could condone such behavior.

A jihad, or holy war, is a fight against evil for the sake of good; at least this is the definition in its truest form, not in the connotation it has been contrived into in recent days.  Yet, in any war, there are casualties.  Innocent lives are lost needlessly.  Soldiers risk life and limb for their cause.  People kill people.  Cities are destroyed.  Civilizations are annihilated.  Families are left homeless, in desolation.  What is the goal?  Liberation, independence, security?  Does it make any sense (to the rational, thinking human being) that the most effective path to these goals is the strategic murder and pillaging of the "enemy"?  

What does killing accomplish?  What message is sent?  What is the reflex response to this action?  What is the best, most effective response?  Using the most obvious example, the events of September 11, 2001, I will purport to answer these questions.

When someone wrongs us, it is our initial reflex response to wrong them back.  It takes far more control to withhold our anger and react more sensibly to the situation.  After the 9-11 attacks, families of victims and well-meaning Americans were heard to say, "Let's kill 'em all!" and many Arab Americans were the target of senseless hate crimes as a result.  In response to the incomprehensibly evil that our country experienced, many people reacted in anger and immediately wanted to take revenge with a retaliatory attack.  It is one thing to war against terrorism, but we must be cautious not to make our war a personal vendetta of hatred.

Let's ask ourselves this question: What would Jesus do?  It's become a buzzword phrase in our society, but let's seriously examine the reply.  

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'  But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too.  And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well.  And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.  When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.  You have heard that it was said, 'Love your friends, hate your enemies.'   But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.   Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!  You must be perfect---just as your Father in heaven is perfect."   Matthew 5:38 - 48

If you repay good with evil, you will never get evil out of your house.  Proverbs 17:13

If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads. And the LORD will reward you.  Proverbs 25:21 - 22

If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good.  Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God's anger do it. For the scripture says, "I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord."   Instead, as the scripture says: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame." Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.  Romans 12:17 - 21

God has given us clear instructions on how we should respond to the actions of evildoers.  This does not mean we should compromise our values and allow others to walk all over us and push us around.  We must stand firm for our faith and moral values whilst concurrently praying for our enemies and covering them with love.  

The easy thing to do is hate those who hurt us, but the far greater way to deal with evil is to surround it in love and banish it altogether rather than perpetuate it with our own hatred.  Pray for peace.  Pray for love.  Pray for your enemies.  True holiness comes from Divine love.

There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.  We love because God first loved us.  If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.  The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.  I John 4:18 - 21


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