Hanging Saddam Hussein and loving enemies
Hanging Saddam Hussein will do as much for Iraq as hanging P.W. Botha would have done for South Africa — see my earlier post: Notes from underground: What to do with old dictators.
Pastor Phil Wyman makes some interesting points on treating people as enemies in his blog Square No More: Those Who Pray Together Slay Together.
In the recent obituaries on Gerald Ford, the former US president, it seems that for many the biggest mistake he made was pardoning Richard Nixon.
St Paul warns us (in Eph 6:10-12) that our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual forces of wickedness. Hanging oppressors does not get rid of oppression. Yet we persist in thinking that we are fighting against flesh and blood, and so the cycle of vengeance continues.
It appears the US president George Bush wants Saddam Hussein to hang — but if Bush is ever brought to trial for his war crimes, will there be any to plead for him to be pardoned?
I have heard that at the war crimes trials of Nazi leaders at Nuremburg one of the difficulties faced by the court was convincing the accused that they were not on trial for losing the war, but for starting it. That Bush would lose the war in Iraq was a foregone conclusion; his crime was starting it in the first place.
PW Botha, so far as I know, went to his death unrepentant. Would hanging him have made things better? Did Jesus make loving enemies conditional on their repentance? It seems to me that in demanding vengeance we demonstrate that we have been infected by the same virus as those we seek to kill. Killing people does not kill the virus, it just causes it to seek a new host. And the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies behave very much like viruses in that respect — C.S. Lewis called them “macrobes” rather than “microbes”.
People with secular values find this difficult to understand. They believe it is letting people off the hook, denying responsibility, and letting them get away with it using the excuse “The devil made me do it.” But for Christians that excuse doesn’t wash. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That is the real spiritual warfare — resisting the devil when he tempts us, and especially when he tempts us with the relatively undemanding exercise of confessing other people’s sins and ignoring our own.