'Cause The Bible Told Me So
January 27, 2006 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Five Reasons Torture Is Always Wrong. From the magazine "Christianity Today", David P. Gushee, a professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, is against torture. Period. No exceptions. Complete with Bible verses to prove it.
posted by willmize (42 comments total)

 
Who Would Jesus Torture?
There are certain acts about which all true Christians agree, and torture is one of them.
posted by matteo at 12:14 PM on January 27, 2006


Two Christians enter, one Christian leaves. It's the only way to settle this conundrum.
posted by willmize at 12:17 PM on January 27, 2006


He's got some good points, though. I like it when religion happens to support something I agree in. It happens so rarely...
posted by arcticwoman at 12:28 PM on January 27, 2006


arcticwoman, no matter what you believe, there's always a religion available somewhere that agrees with you. It's very convenient.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:38 PM on January 27, 2006


I's gonna say, he's not a Real Christian...
posted by LordSludge at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2006


religion (imo) is an enable. You don't like homosexuals religion will support you, are you liberal religion will support you... and so on and so on. Being religious per se does not indicate what kind of person you are. It allows you to justify what kind of person you are.
posted by edgeways at 12:41 PM on January 27, 2006


No LordSludge,

he's not a REAL American
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:42 PM on January 27, 2006


God told Bush to torture. This guy obviously does not know God.
posted by NationalKato at 12:49 PM on January 27, 2006


no matter what you believe, there's always a religion available somewhere that agrees with you. It's very convenient.
posted by JekPorkins


Welcome you "haves" and "have mores" to the church of Dubya, where torture is OK and lying is expected. You can cheat and steal with abandon once you're baptized with our special santorum water by reverend Ashcroft and it's all forgiven.
No need to ever be embarrassed about lying or being a general fu*k up 'cause our Dubya is embarrassing enough for everyone. For a large donation we can even make your personal immorality into holy writ!
Step right up to the altar of vanity, privilege, inhereted wealth and whiteness. You know you're better than them!
posted by nofundy at 12:52 PM on January 27, 2006


Few people disagree that a liberal democracy has the right and responsibility to take prisoners and interrogate them during a war or police action. This is part of the government's biblical mandate...

The thought of a government with a "biblical mandate" makes my stomach turn.
posted by S.C. at 1:07 PM on January 27, 2006


I was thinking about a particular idea the other day, the one semi-valid reason that I think even keeps the possibility of "legitimate" torture in the minds of reasonable people: the idea that someday, sometime, the clock may be ticking and the only person who has information that will save lives is completely resistant to other methods and the only way left to try is to get medieval on them.

I agree with almost all of this article's points. I'm almost totally swayed by the recent Vladmir Bukovsky editorial. And yet like a lot of people, I can't help but wonder about those "exceptional" situations. And I think that particular wonder is the base for a lot of the Bush Administration's justification.

But the more I thought about this, the more I realized something: even assuming those exceptional situations exist, that's not a solid argument for carving out *legal* exceptions for torture. One could acknowledge that such a situation might arise, but still prescribing serious legal consequences for doing it, and enforcing them consistently. This would keep torture discouraged. And if the time for justifiable torture comes up -- if it's really so important that it's worth torturing another human being, the noble torturer (and those who order it) should be willing to pay a personal price specified by a serious legal penalty.

I don't see this being accepted by the current administration, though. They don't seem to take well to accountability. But it would allow them the out for their hypothetical bomb-ticking scenarios, while getting us away from the position I fear most: that not only has torture become accepted, but it's now perceived by the powerful as cheap.

Torture's sometimes necessary? I can accept that possibility, even though I'm reluctant to. But it's never cheap, never without consequences, and our legal system should reflect that, terrorists or no terrorists.
posted by weston at 1:25 PM on January 27, 2006


In Jewish law, confessions are not even allowed as evidence.
posted by Adamchik at 3:37 PM on January 27, 2006


weston, there was an excellent article on Slate last month about the "ticking bomb scenario," you should check it out.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 3:52 PM on January 27, 2006


This is the most clearly written essay on torture I've ever read, and frankly the most convincing, regardless of its Christian roots. Kudos to David P. Gushee.

Seriously, everyone should read this all the way through.
posted by breath at 4:00 PM on January 27, 2006


I think the most interesting thing about the article is how Gushee draws a line between what is legal, and what is moral. His argument is that it should never be legal to torture. In those "ticking time bomb" cases where it might be moral to torture, the individuals doing the torture must do so with the knowledge that they will be punished under the law.

It's arguing that the law cannot and should not be completely consonant with morality.
posted by breath at 4:11 PM on January 27, 2006


From the article,
A former Iraqi general "died of asphyxiation after being stuffed head-first into a sleeping bag … at an American base in Al Asad."
The New York Times, October 23, 2005


The torturer/killer is not going to serve any time.

He had some friends in super secret high places.
posted by Balisong at 4:22 PM on January 27, 2006


It's arguing that the law cannot and should not be completely consonant with morality.

No need to worry about that happening.
posted by boaz at 4:25 PM on January 27, 2006


Agreed -- really well-written and useful link. Thanks, willmize.
posted by scody at 4:31 PM on January 27, 2006


I thought the McCain quote towards the end was just perfect.

"What I … mourn is what we lose when … we allow, confuse, or encourage our soldiers to forget that best sense of ourselves, that which is our greatest strength—that we are different and better than our enemies, that we fight for an idea, not a tribe, not a land, not a king … but for an idea that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights."

I couldn't agree with him more.

weston writes "the idea that someday, sometime, the clock may be ticking and the only person who has information that will save lives is completely resistant to other methods and the only way left to try is to get medieval on them."

Dude. Totally. And what if you can go back in time and kill baby Hitler? You'd totally be justified, right?



In real life, there is no such certainty.

breath writes "It's arguing that the law cannot and should not be completely consonant with morality."

I think this is undeniable. Modern liberal democracies recognize that in attempting to achieve justice, there is a tradeoff between flexibility and liberty. By putting the authority of the state in the hands of individuals, you give those individuals perfect flexibility to fit justice to the situation, but you risk (guarantee?) tyranny. Instead, we rest the authority of the state on the inflexible structure of the law. The law will never be perfectly just, but in a nation of laws, no man can exert total authority over another. It's a price we pay for liberty, I think.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:31 PM on January 27, 2006


It's a price we pay for liberty, I think.

Yeah, you cannot assume that people will follow the law like robots, so you have to write the laws with the knowledge that some will violate them. Sometimes the violators will be doing so for moral reasons, and sometimes for immoral reasons, but the law cannot distinguish between these two cases, since laws are just words.
posted by breath at 4:39 PM on January 27, 2006


So if we show the verses in the Bible where torture is wrong to Bush, he'll reverse his position?

I didn't think so.
posted by fenriq at 5:01 PM on January 27, 2006


So if we show the verses in the Bible where torture is wrong to Bush

If you're in a position where you can freely show Bush verses from the bible and discuss theology with him, you've got some splainin' to do, fenriq.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:07 PM on January 27, 2006


I didn't think so.

Those verses probably aren't meant to be taken literally anyway.
posted by boaz at 5:11 PM on January 27, 2006


Those verses probably aren't meant to be taken literally anyway.

The article itself ascribes far more than the literal meaning to the verses.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:25 PM on January 27, 2006


Well then, maybe those verses aren't meant to be taken metaphorically either.
posted by boaz at 5:32 PM on January 27, 2006


Well, our own "dios" allows torture if you "get the right information". I'd link to the original comment, but it still makes me want to vomit.

I hear there are more pictures from Abu Ghraib surfacing soon. I can't wait to hear the outcry from American Christians.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:02 PM on January 27, 2006


You know, to an American who considers himself to be Christian and who is strongly opposed to the current war, torture, and other human rights violations, it is extremely disconcerting when people pretend that all American Christians are supporters of torture, etc.

Do non-Christians on the political left in the U.S. not realize that nearly all of Bush's political adversaries are also Christian?
posted by JekPorkins at 7:03 PM on January 27, 2006


it is extremely disconcerting when people pretend that all American Christians are supporters of torture, etc.

And in a thread linking to an American Christian opposed to torture, pretty silly. Except that nobody here actually made that claim; it's just Christianity's pro-tortured-strawman bias showing.

It just seems to me that Christianity is pretty torture-neutral, since so many among them support it so thoroughly, and so many others among them oppose it so vehemently. That's really no big diss of Christianity though, since atheism is pretty torture-neutral too.

Do non-Christians on the political left in the U.S. not realize that nearly all of Bush's political adversaries are also Christian?

Yes, that's why when I read screeds like the FPP above, I begin to suspect the left as we know it is doomed.

Conservatives outnumber liberals by 2-1 in the US, and they have for as long as pollsters have been asking. So it's in the conservatives' best interest to turn our national discourse into a 'my invisible friend says' vs. 'your invisible friend says' slapfight. Because when the voting booths get opened, twice as many people are going to side with the conservatives' invisible friend as with yours. And pretty much everybody on both sides has realized this, except for the Liberal Christians who keep making these embarassingly earnest pronouncements about their invisible friend.
posted by boaz at 8:27 PM on January 27, 2006


Conservatives outnumber liberals by 2-1 in the US, and they have for as long as pollsters have been asking.

Can you link to evidence to back this up, or are you just talking shit? Because last time I looked the previous 2 presidential elections were won by margins smaller than 10%--hardly the flexing of conservative muscle you seem to be on about...
posted by Chrischris at 8:37 PM on January 27, 2006


Interesting. You know that Christians don't think that Christ is invisible, right? Or at least, the Bible says that he's not invisible. I suppose there are lots of self-proclaimed "christians" who don't actually know what the bible says. But your condescending "invisible friend" narrative just seems a little silly in light of the fact that Christ is not alleged to be invisible.

I also wonder what you mean when you say "conservatives" and "liberals." I mean, I know what people generally mean when they use the terms, but I'm not sure you're using them right. Maybe you are.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:40 PM on January 27, 2006


I'm going by self-identification. Anyway, here's repasted Harris Interactive polling on it, but there are plenty of others.

"How would you describe your own political philosophy –
conservative, moderate, or liberal?"

2000’s (so far)
Conservative: 35
Moderate: 40
Liberal: 18
posted by boaz at 8:46 PM on January 27, 2006


You know that Christians don't think that Christ is invisible, right?

I'm pretty sure Christ is invisible nowadays, but I haven't checked recently. *Looks in tomb* Yep, still invisible. ;)
posted by boaz at 8:48 PM on January 27, 2006


So, even though your statement was technically correct, it was also very misleading: In reality, more Americans consider themselves to not be conservative or liberal than one or the other. Maybe it's because people who self-proclaimed conservatives think are liberal actually know what the term 'liberal' means and know that they're not it, even though they're not conservative.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:50 PM on January 27, 2006


Look, politically speaking, the difference is moot. They're the guys who you're never going to convince of anything by invoking your semi-visible friend.
posted by boaz at 8:53 PM on January 27, 2006


BTW, I apologize if I misrepresented you as a liberal; I really don't know enough about you to make that claim. It's better stated as 'guys who liberals are never going to' anyway.
posted by boaz at 8:59 PM on January 27, 2006


Semi-visible? Where do you get that? How can something even be semi-visible anyway? What, the top half is visible, but the legs are invisible? Do you think Jesus is a Genie or something?

I mean, come on. If you're going to mockingly make fun of Christianity, at least make fun of stuff that it actually professes to believe. Invisible friend? Nope. Semi-visible friend? What the hell does that even mean? You don't even really know what Christianity professes, do you?
posted by JekPorkins at 8:59 PM on January 27, 2006


The Fate of The Very World™ hangs in the balance and you're still whining about some semantic definition of visibility. When light arrives on my retina that has bounced off Jesus, I will argue the proper level of visibility to assign him further, but not before.
posted by boaz at 9:06 PM on January 27, 2006


A little of my soda came out my nose just now. I humbly submit that both your mockery of christianity and my taking offense at it are counterproductive.

And I don't mind being called a liberal. Just don't call me a conservative ;-)
posted by JekPorkins at 9:07 PM on January 27, 2006


Exactly, we're the assholes you have to put up with so you don't have to put up with those assholes.
posted by boaz at 9:14 PM on January 27, 2006


to whom has jesus ever been visible? other than characters in jewish folk stories (granted some of those characters may have had historical counterparts but hard science history doesn't offer any support of jesus' real existence.) And when christians proclaim that jesus is "everywhere", doesn't that require invisibility? Otherwise my mouth and nostrils and eyeballs would be clogged with jesus all the time. Also, that cheesy 'footprints on the beach' poster-isn't some kind of invisibility or at least semi-visibility required of jesus in order to pull of that stunt. Maybe the speaker of that tripe is just blind or wouldn't he see visible jesus carrying him?
posted by firemouth at 2:24 PM on January 28, 2006


firemouth: I'm not aware of any Jewish folk story that includes Jesus as a character. Next time you go to temple, do yourself a favor, and don't drink the kool-aid.

Otherwise my mouth and nostrils and eyeballs would be clogged with jesus all the time.


Why would invisibility make something in your nose, mouth and eyeballs have less mass or clog less? The term "invisible" means "not visible" or "can't be seen."

And when christians proclaim that jesus is "everywhere", doesn't that require invisibility?


According to the Bible, Jesus is not everywhere. In fact, Jesus allegedly said that after his ressurrection and ascension he would not be present.

The cheesy "footprints on the beach" poster is full of crap, and is a weak-ass metaphor, not even intended to be a literal account. Did you not know that?

to whom has jesus ever been visible?

Well, first, he was visible to everyone he ever met before his crucifixion. Then, he was visible to everyone who saw him while he was dead. Then, he was visible to everyone who he encountered after the ressurrection, right up until he left. He's also been visible to everyone else who has ever claimed to have encountered him.

In fact, I'm not aware of any account of anyone who claims that they encountered Jesus, and could hear him and touch him, but couldn't see him. There are no accounts of a seemingly disembodied set of Jesus robes floating around town with an invisible Jesus walking around in them, as far as I know.

Indeed, the thing that sets Christianity apart from most other religions (especially the ones of that particular time) is that its deity is purported to be a real person who actually lived with a body of flesh and blood, and who still is alive, with a tangible, physical body. Christianity even goes so far as to have a story of Jesus, after the ressurrection, appearing to thousands of people and letting them physically touch him, and inspect the wounds in his hands, feet and side, so that they can see that he's not invisible, not imaginary, and not dead.

Before you mock someone's beliefs, at least find out the details of the myth you're mocking.
posted by JekPorkins at 2:50 PM on January 28, 2006


and Christinas have never tortured people in the past in the name of God?
- Spanish Inquisition anyone?
posted by mary8nne at 9:35 PM on January 30, 2006


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