Thursday, December 18, 2003

More on Executing Saddam

Several people have responded to my post below where I argue against executing Saddam Hussein, as I believe he could provide intelligence and that he deserves a chance to convert. I'll try to respond to the arguments against my view. I'm very ambivalent about this, and while I could be swayed either way, I'll likely play Devil's Advocate (hey, that's strangely non-ironic...).

Well, I don't know that Saddam knows where Osama is, but he might turn in someone who does (or, more likely, someone who turns in someone who turns in someone who...you get the picture). If finding out information that would bring this war to a close sooner required that we leave him alive, wouldn't it be worth it?

As for the conversion argument, I still don't buy that he has to be executed. Where in the New Testament is execution condoned? The way I see it, this is solely a matter of secular law, and then only so long as we presume that there is no Biblical prohibition. Is there such a prohibition? I don't know. In the Old Testament, execution occurred if one broke one of God's commandments. However, we do not see Christians doing this in the New Testament. The Mosaic Law was essentially summarized as the Great Commandment, with the Great Commission newly emphasized. Obviously, Hussein broke the Great Commandment. The only trouble is that so have every single one of us. A rich woman who has stolen a candy bar from a 7-11 is just as guilty in God's eyes as Saddam Hussein; they have both done what they know to be contrary to the will of God. If the woman has been raised Christian, then arguably she is even more at fault, as she knew what she was doing, while someone with a secular/Muslim background would at the very least have less perfect knowledge of this. However, living in a largely Christian country, the woman will likely have more chance to repent than the man.

Obviously, God is not limited by time. However, we are, and waiting takes its toll on us, our minds, and our resources. As God could Save Hussein in a second if He wanted to, then it is argued that it is okay to execute him. By extension, there is no need for any real length of time to elapse from sentencing to the carrying out of that sentence, as the few seconds along the way to the wall would be sufficient. However, we are not to test God. I have no doubt that a millisecond would be quite sufficient if God wanted it done. However, not being bound by time, God doesn't always do things as quickly as we might like. Christ spent two years with his disciples, only to have them all run away once he'd died (and all but John while he was still alive). God obviously didn't need two years to make Christ ready for sacrifice, but we did. I know I'm about to become a little inconsistent with Free Will/Predestination, but please bear with me. If it takes a fall from power, humiliation, and captivity in the hands of his enemies to convert Saddam Hussein, wouldn't it be worth it? To argue that we should execute Hussein for what he's done is the same as arguing that Ananias should've slit Saul's throat. If Hussein needs until Thursday and we execute him on Wednesday, we've just caused a soul to be lost because of our own impatience. If killing Saddam would save lives, I would rethink this. However, the difference between Saddam captured/humiliated and Saddam dead isn't enough to prevent further death.

If we're going to take a life and potentially seal the fate of their soul, we need a good reason. You can't kill someone to save their soul. Will Hussein's death save other people's souls? I doubt it, and I also don't think that we can so willingly sacrifice one for many (this is similar to why abortion is wrong). Will his death prevent more killing? Again, I don't think so. What reason is left? If he is to be punished, then death is the one punishment least likely to work. Torture, which we don't do, and humiliation are far better tools. To execute him is to say that he is beyond hope of redemption, and is thus unworthy of more time. That argument makes a mockery of Christ's sacrifice. Are we willing to scar the conscience of his executioner just so we can wreak vengeance? Would any of us volunteer to throw the switch, inject the poison, or pull the trigger? I wouldn't. Again, I say that we can only take his life if we know that his soul cannot be Saved, or that it can be Saved if God works according to our plans instead of us according to His. I think we risk hurting our own souls more than we hurt Saddam's body if we kill him.

I may be wrong. Convince me.

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