• Preventative Murder

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    Saturday night
    as I watched the debates on ABC, I was struck by many things including
    the prescience of Ron Paul’s monetary policy, the ignorance of Fred
    Thompson to the idea that printing money devalues the currency,
    the motivation by many candidates to dabble with symptoms while
    not addressing root causes, and the overall lip-service which the
    candidates seem to pay to the constitution. However, the greatest
    and most frightening impression which I received while trying to
    understand the candidates was that every one of them except for
    Paul support preventative murder. How on earth could I make such
    a bold and possibly slanderous claim? I’m not making the claim,
    the candidates stated it themselves. Let me try to elucidate what
    these candidates were saying.

    Their first
    point was that there exists in the world a form of Islam that motivates
    violent radical jihad. This is a reasonable and rather well documented
    claim. There have been radical Muslims interviewed who have said
    as much. It is not that the candidates were painting all Muslims
    as such, but they were pointing to the existence of a dispersed
    world-wide group of terrorists with said motivation. Fine, I accept
    that.

    Their second
    point was that Americans are in grave danger because of these Jihadists.
    In other words, if we do not eliminate the threat, that Jihadists
    will come here and kill us just as they did on 9/11. Now, here I
    think there is and there was a plethora of information absent from
    the discussion; information of which Ron Paul vehemently tried to
    remind the other candidates. We have subsidized dictators, bombed
    any opposition, murdered democratically elected officials, trained
    foreigners in our secret torture practices, but alas I diverge from
    the point. Though there is a motivation by Islamic terrorists to
    kill us, that motivation is severely exacerbated by our arrogant
    meddling in foreign affairs. Sure, there are some who would want
    to kill us anyway, but the number would be far less. Nevertheless,
    let’s say for the sake of argument that America is innocent and
    these people want to kill us solely for the sake of radical Islam.
    Let’s say the five candidates on the stage last night were correct
    and Ron Paul wrong. Even if this was the case, let’s be painfully
    clear about the implications of what they were saying.

    Their third
    point was that we need to kill Jihadists. Of course they didn’t
    say this so blatantly, but I wish they would have. They euphemistically
    stated that we need to “eliminate the threat of Islamic terrorism.”
    Let’s remove the sugar-coating and see that they are really saying,
    “we need to kill people before they kill us.”

    Now, before
    we develop the distinction between preventative murder and self-defense,
    let me say this: I am all for a preemptive strike if by preemptive
    we properly mean attacking an advancing army in self-defense. If
    there is a group of people on my plane with box cutters trying to
    hijack, I am going to do what I can to stop them. If there is an
    advancing naval fleet, we should stop them. This is what preemptive
    means. To preempt is to quickly react to someone who has already
    launched a threat. Then comes the question, is the general statement
    by a Jihadist that they want to kill Christians or remove Israel
    from the map a reason for military preemption? Well, what are we
    preempting when we act against this threat? We are essentially preempting
    a thought or a concept. Terrorism is a concept, and I find it metaphysically
    difficult to make a military preemptive strike against a concept.
    What you can try to do against the concept of Jihad is to prevent
    it by killing or jailing the one that believes in said philosophy,
    but ironically, and to our own peril as Ron Paul would warn, killing
    an individual who believes such a concept does nothing but kill
    that individual and consequently multiply the concept. You don’t
    kill terrorism by killing terrorists; you kill terrorism with philosophical
    bullets and theoretical bombs — a.k.a. the gospel. Our “preemptive”
    strike against Iraq is a peculiar and convenient error of nomenclature
    for we are not waging a preemptive war, rather we are waging a preventative
    war.

    This leads
    me to my initial point. A preventative war against radical Islam
    is premeditated murder. We are planning, and are electing officials
    who are planning, the deaths of those who have done nothing but
    threaten us. There is no advancing army. There are no suicide bombers
    in our midst — except those who are rightfully defending their own
    soil against our insurgents (by the way I have nothing but respect
    for our troops, and I believe I am showing them utmost honor by
    elucidating our grave philosophical and moral errata). We are essentially
    planning the deaths of human beings created in the image of God
    simply because of what they believe. This is premeditated murder.
    “But their beliefs are dangerous to us!” True, but ask yourself
    this question. What if a person in your neighborhood called you
    and said they were going to kill you. Do you think you have a right
    under the Constitution and under a Biblical ideal to go to their
    house and blow up both them and their family? Sure, you would heighten
    your defenses, you might call the police, you might buy a gun, and
    on the whole you would be much more careful. However, to go to their
    house and kill them before they can get to you is murder. Now, if
    they come to your home and threaten your family and you kill in
    defense, this would be akin to a preemptive strike. However, we
    are engaging in nothing less than preventative murder in Iraq.

    A word to those
    Christians who may have a problem with what I’m writing. The main
    argument I’ve heard against my philosophy is that it puts our families
    in danger. My response is that it is far more dangerous to engage
    in an activity such as preventative murder which dishonors and disobeys
    almighty God. The radical Muslim is no threat to those who trust
    in the God who “marks of the heavens with the span of His hand.”
    Jihad is no threat to those who believe that “to live is Christ
    and to die is gain.” If the evangelical church at large continues
    to support this activity they have engaged in one of the greatest
    moral blunders in church history. To the degree that the church
    participates and supports this morality of preventative war is the
    degree to which they disobey God, and more tragically it is the
    degree to which they doubt the providence and sovereignty of the
    One they claim to trust. It is definitely dangerous to wait until
    someone is actually attacking us before defending ourselves, but
    since when do we allow danger and safety to define our morality?
    We are bound to obey almighty God be it safe or dangerous, and in
    the words of Martin Luther, “the body they may kill, God’s truth
    abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”

    January
    8, 2008

    Matthew
    Rondeau [send him
    mail
    ] is a theological student at Southeastern Baptist Theological
    Seminary.

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