Torturing the Least of These

By Jimmy McCarty 9-10-2008

photo by Ryan Rodrick BeilerChristians are people who follow a tortured and murdered God. This fact speaks clearly to what our values should be. One of those values should be a rejection of torture, violence in the name of "law" and the common good, and murder.

Currently, the U.S. government has been accused of torture at Guantanamo Bay and has refused to ban certain forms of torture (i.e., the waterboarding controversy) in their interrogation of accused terrorists. Fortunately, both of the presidential candidates speak out boldly against the use of torture. Christians around the nation are beginning to stand up and speak out against this grave sin, and those of us who have not yet joined the chorus should stand up and do so now.

Christians are a people shaped by the cross. We claim to worship a tortured God and follow a tortured Lord. One of the lessons humanity should learn from the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth is the depths to which humans can sink in their depravity. It should be a constant warning that we must never again resort to the methods of the cross. Much like the world responded to the Shoa (Holocaust) with the words "Never again," Christians should respond to the cross with those same words.

Jesus spoke of the last judgment in Matthew 25, saying that what we do for "the least of these" we do to him. The least of these includes the hungry, naked, and homeless. It also includes the imprisoned. How we treat those who are in prison is how we treat Jesus Christ, and it is part of the basis on which God will judge our lives. In torturing those imprisoned for crimes they have not yet been found guilty of, we torture, again, our Lord and Savior. For people who claim to follow the one who said we are no longer to function according to "eye for an eye" ideology, but to "turn the other cheek," to not speak out against those who would continue to use the methods of the cross is wrong.

In a few days, there will be a National Summit on Torture sponsored by Evangelicals for Human Rights and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Visit their Web sites, sign their petitions, and join the chorus of Christian voices around the country speaking out against this injustice.

For those of us shaped by what occurred to a political prisoner 2,000 years ago on a hill called Golgotha, what happens at Guantanamo Bay should pierce our souls.

Jimmy McCartyJimmy McCarty is a student at Claremont School of Theology studying Christian ethics, a minister serving cross-racially at a church in inner-city Los Angeles, and a servant at a homeless shelter five days a week.

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