Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's on Faith and Politics: Lives Matter.

This is the fourth installment in this series on faith and politics. You can read the previous installments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5

I realize that the title of this post might have misled some of you into thinking this post was about abortion. That one still may come, but this isn't it. The debate this week is supposed to focus on US national security and foreign policy, so I thought it might be a good idea to tackle that in this week's post. Fair warning, I'm pretty passionate about this topic, and I'm not going to beat around the bush: this post is going to be a little different than the others.

Me in Iskanderiyah, Iraq circa 2004

Lives. Matter.

All of them.

The fact that I was lucky enough to be born here in the United States does not make my life more valuable than someone born elsewhere. Nothing about the United States makes protecting innocent life at home worth shedding innocent blood abroad. When we deny this fact, we are denying the very essence of personhood that the Imageo Dei, the image of God, imparts to each and every one of us.

If I had to pick one policy arena that I thought best exemplified how Constantinian Christianity has served to silence the prophetic voice of the Bride, it is this one.

If there ever were a place where the idols of Nationalism, Patriotism, and Exceptionalism have supplanted the person of Christ on the altar of our hearts, it is here. 

If there ever were a time when Christianity had so fundamentally lost her way that her politics wholly replaced her faith, it is now.

There is very little in US foreign and national security policy that reflects the self-sacrificing, other-exalting cruciform way of Christ. Unsatisfied with the Lamb of God and Prince of Peace, we've placed our faith in that earthly surrogate whose name is "conquering king."

We have traded the truth of God for a lie, that our lives matter more than those in other countries, of other races, of different faiths, cultures, and tongues are somehow less human than we are. In our dehumanization of the Other, the lie is made complete, and the Gospel of radical, enemy-loving grace is lost to the false gospel of fear and vengeance.

Drone your enemies. Bomb those who persecute you.

The Nation is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

Blessed are the warfighters, for they will be called heroes.

Hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the United States in the last decade. I was so invested in the lie, that I enthusiastically volunteered to participate. But when you've heard the screams of a little girl caught in the middle of an artillery barrage, or smelled the burnt flesh of a little boy whose house was bombed for belonging to a "combatant," or when you've watched the remnants of what moments before was a man's body attempt to crawl away from the aftermath of a drone strike, you start to understand that, perhaps, things aren't as they seem.

If there is one area where our faith should absolutely influence our politics, it is this one, yet this is the area where we seem to work hardest to suppress and ignore the implications and obligations of our faith.

Lives matter.

All of them.

Including those of the soldiers you so willingly send in your stead.
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