Victim or Executioner?
There’s something that continues to baffle my mind: Christians who support the death penalty and the use of torture. It is my conviction that one cannot be a Christian while maintaining these views of suffering and death. One sacrifices something. A change of position happens from identifying with the victim (though perhaps a criminal), to identifying with the executioner. Recently VP Elect Mike Pence, a self-proclaimed Christian, said torture isn’t out of the question for the new administration. Here’s why one cannot be in favor, or acting in accordance with, torture and death: God always identifies with the victims. Though the person who might have been a criminal prior, who is now being tortured, becomes a victim. God is never on the side of the executioner. Even if said executioner does so in God’s name. E. Frank Tupper in his book A Scandalous Providence says, “God has always chosen to identify with the victims, because one must either identify with the victims or the executioners: And the failure to identify with the victims is to identify with the executioners.” I realize the deep ethical dilemma of this, but as a Christian one’s role is to be life-giving in all one does. We cannot justify our position as executioner by simply evoking the name of God as being on our side. That is not how it works.
God is the victim, now decide what to do.
To advocate torture is advocate a dehumanizing of the victim. That’s how one is able to go through with it. This person is no longer a human because what they did is something we deem to be beyond forgiveness. As we strip them of their humanity we begin to waterboard with a Christian at the helm. This is evil. This is perpetuating a radical evil that we are trying to fight. Mike Pence if he wanted to make a stance who would resign at the first use of torture. I’m not holding my breath though. The executioner loses their humanity alongside the victim. The entire situation is anti-human. If our President-elect Trump enacts this barbaric demonic torture, we need to rise up with one voice and tear him down. Not that this is the only thing going on right now, but we can add it to list of protest.
If you are going to use the name of God make sure you correctly identify those whom God identifies with. It is often your enemy.