MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Sadaam Hussein’s Eternal Home

December 31st, 2006 Visited 12476 times, 2 so far today

In case you haven’t heard, Sadaam Hussein died December 29, 2006. The political blogs are swirling. Michelle Malkin talks about some interviews done of Fox News. Say Anything has a link to the video on the Drudge Report. The BBC has the account from the Iraq State TV— which didn’t show the actual hanging, but describes the lead up to it.

But by far the most obnoxious statement is from Wizbang under a post entitled “Believe it or not, he’s walking on air… Why is this more obnoxious? Well, for starters, I have the whole collection of Greatest American Hero, and it seems twisted in more ways than one to have Sadaam be linked with an American hero and secondly, the death of a person (regardless of whether “he deserved it”) should be something that we approach with soberness and contemplation.

This man, by all accounts, is currently serving out a sentence of eternal punishment for his sin against an Almighty God. We should not wish this punishment on anyone– even if he is a mass murderer. But for the grace of God, we could be in the exact same situation.

The even more sobering part is that it doesn’t take mass murders to get a ticket to Hell– all of us are born destined to end up there. It takes an act of faith to change that destination. Have you made that decision? Would you like to?

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  • ann_in_grace says on: December 31, 2006 at 9:18 am

     

    Steve Camp posted on this subject, as well.
    It is a good occasion to contemplate what we have, our salvation, and where we might be lest God had not saved us.
    Humbling occasion.

  • Steve Hayes says on: December 31, 2006 at 2:18 pm

     

    So when are they going to hang those other war criminals?

    George Bush, the butcher of Baghdad.
    Bill Clinton, the Butcher of Belgrade
    Tony Blair, the butcher of both.

  • Anthony says on: December 31, 2006 at 2:55 pm

     

    Very humbling. 2007 shall be a BIG new year…

    Anthony

  • Stephen Kingston says on: December 31, 2006 at 5:20 pm

     

    Thanks for this piece. As you probably know, I do not agree with capital punishment, partly because (as I argued on my blog) I think that the motivation to punish through killing is the self same motivation that drives a man like Saddam to his evil. But as you say, “but for the grace of God, there go I”.

    It is also right that we do not gloat in the man’s punishment, because again that is feeding the base motive for revenge, and I think it is sinful. So thanks for the balanced post above.

    Stephen

  • Leticia says on: January 1, 2007 at 6:02 pm

     

    I am very happy he hanged and he is finally gone. He brutally murdered millions of people and justice was done.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 2, 2007 at 11:39 am

     

    Steve, I guess I don’t see the comparison between people that are in a military conflict attacking other people’s armies and someone who kills innocent civilians.

    Stephen, I didn’t know your position on Capital Punishment, and wonder how your position jives with the plain reading of the scriptures. God put in place cities of refuge and an avenger of blood. Obviously premeditated murder was a wrong punishable by death in the rules God himself ordained. (He went further than that, ordering death for adultery, misbehavior in children, etc which we wouldn’t even hear of!) Do you believe that we are no longer under some of those commands?

    In any case, you’re totally right– life is precious.

  • Steve Hayes says on: January 2, 2007 at 1:04 pm

     

    Well I was simply comparing people who kill innocent civilians with people who kill innocent civilians.

    Bill Clinton and Tony Blair killed more innocent civilians in Yugoslavia in 1999 as were killed in the World Trade Center in 2001.

    It’s not really got much to do with one’s beliefs about capital punishment, though of course someone who onsistently believed in capital punishment would say that Bush and Blair and Clinton and Albright should hang (Albright was the one who said that she thought the price of 500 000 dead kids was “worth it” to maintain US hegemony in the Middle East).

    But it’s an interesting justaposition.

    PW Botha died peacefully in his bed the same week Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death. Flags flew at half mast and he was offered a state funeral. I suspect that is the contrast between Christian mercy and Muslim vengeance.

    Gerald Ford was commended for pardoning Nixon the same day Saddam Hussein was executed.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 2, 2007 at 1:13 pm

     

    I guess that my argument, again, is the target. The target of American aggression was not civilians, but combatants. The target of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks was not military, but civilians. The targets of Sadaam’s murders (which he was put to death for) was innocent civilians.

    A more appropriate parallel would be George Bush deciding to kill all those who voted the democratic ticket in 2006 in Texas. If he ordered their death, and saw to it that the government carried it out– then certainly he should be killed.

    However, someone sending troops over to oust a dictator who uses precision weapons to guarantee the least possible civilian casualties against an enemy that refuses to wear uniforms, seeks to hide themselves in mosques, hospitals and schools– a big difference there.

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: January 3, 2007 at 3:05 pm

     

    Very big difference here. Nicely stated MIN. I too am glad that at least one more terrorist has seen earthly judgment. I think you make a great point about the validity of Capital Punishment.

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 3, 2007 at 6:10 pm

     

    Min, the plain reading of scripture is that Christ valued forgiveness and repentance over retribution. Christ’s answer is that certainly Saddam Hussein deserves to die for his sins, but the one of us who is not under condemnation should be the first to throw a stone.

    Yes, in the OT, capital punishment was mandated and carried out. But we should bear in mind that the society then had no capacity to create jails and programmes of rehabilitation. It is often said that the Celts practiced human sacrifice. This may be true, but the best evidence is that this was only carried out with criminals that the communities could not afford to keep idle, but could not risk freeing.

    I don’t think capital punishment is God’s best. It was a mandated old testament punishment for the dual pruprose of teaching us the wages of sin, and safeguarding the community. Christ showed us how a Christian should approach the issue.

    I have written an article on capital punishment on my blog here:

    http://safle.org/wordpress/200.....hment.html.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 3, 2007 at 6:30 pm

     

    I guess that my argument, again, is the target. The target of American aggression was not civilians, but combatants. The target of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks was not military, but civilians.

    Al Qaida did indeed target civilians in 2001, and that was a brutal heinious and inexcusable crime against God and humanity.

    But, of course, that was nothing to do with Iraq (except inasmuch as the successful Afghanistan campaign allowed Woferwitz and other war mongers pursuade Bush that an invasion of Iraq might be quick, easy and worthwhile).

    Furthermore, whilst the campaign was originally against the Iraqi regime, the result is a quarter of a million dead civilians. Al Qaida killed about 3,000.

    Now the scale of civilian deaths in Iraq may not have been predictable, but I have always believed that if we make war on a nation, and if the predictable consequence of that war is civilian deaths, then we are accountable for those deaths.

    The targets of Sadaam’s murders (which he was put to death for) was innocent civilians.

    After the first gulf war, George Bush I and Donald Rumsfeld among others encouraged an uprising in Iraq. They did not enter Iraq after the liberation of Kuwait, but amassed the coalition army on the borders and indicated to Shia leaders that they would militarily support an uprising.

    As Colin Powell recalls, when the uprising came, there was no US or coalition support, because of the fear of a Shia majority led government in Iraq. The US was terrified of a regime like that in Iran expanding into Iraq (which is why they had supplied Saddam with chemical weapons in previous years during the Iran/Iraq war).

    Now because the US did not back the Shia, Saddam was able to put down the uprising and round up the those involved. It was these people he massacred (no doubt with some innocents too. But I suspect he would have called these “collateral damage” or some such specious term).

    Let us be in no doubt – had the uprising succeeded, these people would have killed Saddam. Thus Saddam could (and did) argue that what occurred was an execution of people guilty of treason.

    From our perspective, we say that Saddam was evil, and the executions were brutal, indiscriminate and wrong. But it is not like George Bush executing those who did not vote for him. It is like the byzantine emperor Julianus killing thousands in the hippodrome because they sought to oust him as emperor.

    Julianus, of course, was a Christian emperor…

    I guess what I am trying to say (without excusing Saddam for a second) is that things are not as black and white as we are told to believe.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 4, 2007 at 9:38 am

     

    Stephen, as far as Capital Punishment and Old Testament law, God did not change from the Old Testament to the New, and neither did the consequences for the crimes. It was required of those prosecuting the woman caught in adultery to produce the man that she was in adultery with, and the fact that those bringing her also had something that they were hiding as far as information reveals that all those present were not innocent in that crime. I sure wish we knew what Jesus was writing in the sand.

    Certainly, Jesus didn’t go about making sure people were killed or correctly punished for their wrong doings while here on Earth– I can’t argue there. But what still strikes me as strange is that if God didn’t mean to emphasize that murder was wrong, why is it one of the 10 commandments? Why is it attached to “this is an attack on God since you killed someone in the image of God”?

    To your point about the lack of appropriate facilities for rehabilitation, what do you call the Cities of Refuge that God created for the slayer of blood? These places a person could flee if they killed someone accidentally or in self defense, there was a trial system in place where the judges on the walls could make a determination whether or not you were guilty of pre-meditated murder, and if you were not, you would be let inside the city walls and not allowed to leave until the death of the high priest. Sounds like a prison in one sense– and it could possibly be a life sentence, depending on how old the priest was.

    And the striking thing is that was for those who committed accidental death!

    There will always be civilian casualties of war. I’d be interested in examining those numbers, though, to see what were caused by actual allied strikes verses those killed by Iraqis, etc. However, in this battle, unlike any before it, we are taking more and more care to not harm civilians. (Despite the enemies attempts to exploit this “weakness” by hiding themselves in with civilians.) We’re fighting a war with two different standards of conduct, and by taking the amount of time and care that we are we may be unnecessarily leading to more deaths than if we just took care of it in a more messy way– due to how much time it is taking us to take care of the enemy.

    Make no mistake, the enemy does not have respect for civilians and will continue to target them as long as they sense that it gives them a sense of power. They will exploit their civilian deaths to weaken our resolve. They will inflate the numbers of their dead. They will kill our civilians. Taking this into account, they have an utter disrespect for life compared to us.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 4, 2007 at 6:07 pm

     

    It was required for the prosecution of the woman that there be eyewitnesses to the adultery. Justice would also dictate that the man should also be brought, but in order to prove the woman’s guilt that would not be necessary. It was clearly a nasty situation in that people knew the woman was an adulteress, and yet did not accuse the man involved.

    But the trap that was being laid for Jesus was this: The pharisees had long since moderated the mosaic law. Thus when the law said “an eye for an eye”, someone who harmed another’s eye was asked to make payment. The rightful punishment was there to encourage the payment of a suitable amount of money. If the injured party was not satisfied with the offer of money, then he could insist on the punishment and have the other party’s eye put out. But because one man valued his good eyes, and the other valued the compensation above mere revenge, a suitable settlement would be agreed.

    Now Jesus had been teaching against the pharisaical interpretations of the law. He had been calling the pharisees hypocrites who neglected justice, and such like.

    So the trap was this – what would Jesus do with an adulteress? Would he insist on stoning her (unmerciful as this was – it was no longer the usual punishment for adultery), or would he agree with the pharisees and demand a payment instead? The trap was carefully set (some commentators have suggested the man involved was a pharisee), and I do not think that they would have allowed the trap to fail for technicalities in Jewish law. These were the legal experts that Jesus was berating for being too legalistic. It would be a major error to have failed to prove the prosecution of the woman.

    Nevertheless Jesus grasped the dilemma by the horns and walked on through. It is his attitude that we, as Christians, should learn from.

    *

    You ask why murder is one of the 10 commandments. My answer is because murder is a terrible sin.

    But that does not speak to the issue of capital punishment. We do not execute liars, adluterers, those who dishonour their parents, those who covet and so on.

    All we have from Christ is the woman caught in adultery. The one occasion where he deals with the issue, his answer is to show mercy that the woman might go and sin no more.

    *

    Cities of refuge were required in the interests of justice – that those who had killed by accident would not be unjustly avenged. This was a different situation from imprisoning those who had deliberately committed crimes (and indeed it was a remarkable institution).

    I’ll write a seperate comment about the Iraq war stuff.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 4, 2007 at 6:24 pm

     

    There will always be civilian casualties of war.

    Which is a good reason why we should not go to war. We are responsible for those casualties.

    I’d be interested in examining those numbers, though, to see what were caused by actual allied strikes verses those killed by Iraqis, etc.

    Well in one instance, during the invasion, the US targetted a civilian restaurant and dropped a bunker busting bomb on it on the faulty intelligence that Saddam might be eating there. The result was that the daughters of an Iraqi Christian restaraunter were killed.

    News reports focussed on how Saddam had got away. There was no criticism of the targetting of a civilian area and the murder of these girls. Just one of a litany of such occurrences (including the massacre on Fallujah of course).

  • MInTheGap says on: January 5, 2007 at 9:59 am

     

    Well, Stephen, if the trap for Jesus is as you say, it makes sense. However, I was under the impression that the Pharisees were using a series of different tests in order to get Rome to take care of Him.

    Take, for instance, the whole episode where they ask whether they should pay tax to Caesar– Jesus avoided it by saying pay tax to whom it is due.

    In the circumstance of the woman caught in adultery, since we know that the Pharisees did not have the power to exercise the death penalty (remember that they had to go to Pilate in order to have Jesus killed), if Jesus had said “stone her”, He would have violated Roman law, and they would have turned him over to the Romans. If He had responded “let her go”, then they would have said that He did not uphold the Jewish law, and He could not be their Messiah. To get out of it, He turns the question on them– exposing their sinful nature (and whatever was written on the ground that may have indicted others to the death penalty) and since no one stayed, He could then say “since there are no accusers, you’re free to go”– since there was no more charge being brought against her.

    Capital punishment has always been a governmental, not personal thing. Jesus, as Creator of the Universe could have said “I have mercy on you, go and sin no more” with the Pharisees standing there, but He waited until they had left and she had no accusers. For me, this is key– and where your interpretation of the story falls apart.

    Christ never subverted government. When God had His way creating the rules of a government, He instituted the death penalty. He also exercised it when Ananias and Saphirra lied about the offering that they brought.

    As for the rehab argument, certainly people would have expected, even in the early days of Israel, for there to be some way to rehab a rebellious child– if God’s logic was to use Capital Punishment in absence of the ability to rehab, why kill the rebellious child?

    I think the key lies in the way God looks at us and the way we look at us. For people in this world it is easy to get attached to this world, this body, and thinking that this is all there is. With that mindset, it is easy to see why we should not kill as a punishment in any case.

    However, this is not all there is, and coming face to face with death is enough to keep some people from doing wrong, and it doesn’t negate the fact that there is an eternal life– one that can be claimed even up to the moment of death.

    And lastly, it is up for God to decide when someone dies– whether by “natural causes” or by God ordering it (i.e. telling Joshua to kill all the people in the land of Caanan, the order for death in the law, etc.) He determines and has the right to determine when life should end.

    Lastly, if you start saying that all sin should be covered in mercy, where do we find about actions having consequences– or don’t they? Certainly a look through the Old and New Testament finds many times where God had mercy, but the consequences of the sin were still enacted. Take David’s sin with Bathsheba. He repented, was shown mercy, but that child died, Absolom tried to take over the kingdom, and the kingdom crumbled after Solomon. A lot lost because he was adulterous and one wonders what would have happened had God law had been followed.

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: January 5, 2007 at 10:50 am

     

    MIN, this is the best interpretation of the trick against Christ I have read. It makes perfect sense.

    You are totally right that God instituted the law of Capital Punishment. I don’t see any place where he revokes that or corrects it. When we see the law of Moses regarding divorce being acceptable, we later see how Christ clarified that situation. If the law of Capital Punishment were to be re-designed, I think He would have been very clear about that.

    I also especially like your comment about Ananias and Saphira. I think it is important to note that God still acts in this way today. I think many times however, we overlook this and call it “coincidence” , deem it unrelated to our sin or we think it is just “an accident”. We are so quick to claim the mercy of Christ, and forget about His righteous justice. God is not either or, He is BOTH merciful (and longsuffering) AND just (and righteous). We cannot ignore that part of His character.

    Peace,
    Mrs. Meg Logan

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 6, 2007 at 6:35 pm

     

    I don’t disagree that part of the plan of the pharisees would be to goad Jesus into doing something illegal (such as advocating the death penalty or telling people not to pay taxes). However, to stand a hope of such goading working, they needed to present Jesus with a suitable dilemma. Agree with the pharisees or argue for the death penalty. But Jesus did neither.

    Consider the possibility that in looking at the Old Testament laws regarding capital punishment, that we may be doing just what the pharisees did. We may be assuming that our interpretation of why God said a thing is the right interpretation.

    Christ did not subvert government, but his ministry was a short one of huge eschatological significance. His follopwers, on the other hand, did start to influence governments – because the message of the gospel demanded that.

    For instance, fast forward to the eighteenth century and you see a movement born in the evangelical awakening to bring about the end of the slave trade. Many people had argued that the Bible allowed slavery, and that Jesus did not speak against it. They argued that this was the God instituted authority and so forth. But men such as John Newton, who had witnessed the brutality, immorality and plain evilness of that trade argued that this was not what Christ demanded – but that we should take seriously Christ’s commandment to love our neighbours, to treat one another justly, and so forth.

    It is a great testimony to the work of Christ in the evangelical revival that Newton, Wilberforce, Shaftsbury et al., prevailed and in 1807 slavery was abolished across the whole British empire.

    Now to me it seems self evident: Would Jesus love the institution of slavery? certainly not. On the issue of capital punishment, everything I read in the gospels leads me to the same conclusion about such punishment. It is barbaric, dehumanising, does not allow for repentance and reformation, and in the case of Saddam Hissein, it seems it may even have made a martyr of a tyrant.

    I cannot accept that Christ would love the death penalty. Not when we have alternatives that meet the needs of justice and rehabilitation.

    To say capital punishment is wrong is not to say that we wink at sin. We treat sin seriously, and Christ commands us to love justice as well as mercy. But it is justice we love – not revenge. And unfortunately capital punishment is too often a vengeful act.

    Consider: Saddam asked not to be hanged but to be shot by firing squad. The result – he was hanged, whilst being taunted by his enemies. That was vengeance – a sinful motive as base as Saddam’s own. But for the grace of God, there go I.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 6, 2007 at 9:30 pm

     

    I’m not sure that slavery is a fair comparison. Though I agree that it is an awful practice, to some extent it is still practiced in the employee/employer relationship, except that an employee may leave. If you look at the bad aspects of slavery, sure it was an awful thing– but if you look instead at the cases that the Bible points out– that a slave may actually want to stay with a given master because of how the master treated him, etc.– you will see that slavery was not always the abusive relationship that it is portrayed to be.

    Would Jesus want slavery? You’d have to ask Him. He certainly instructed Paul on telling slaves how to act toward their masters. Paul provided Onesimus back to Philemon. And yet, I’m sure He was against inhumane treatment of others and what became the stereotype master/slave relationship.

    Which, again, takes me back to the issue at hand. If God said that you do X you get this punishment in the law that He set up, how could God the Son say that He did not come to destroy the law? There was a code of conduct, and there was a system that had to be followed for a judicial ruling. There ended up being no accusers and so Jesus didn’t have to defend the death penalty and put himself in the hands of the Romans before it was His time. You can’t read into a situation where Jesus did not speak either way that He either agreed or disagreed with a given thing.

    It’s just like the current argument that since Jesus, in His earthly ministry, did not speak about homosexuality being a sin, then it wasn’t considered to be a sin by Him. Of course it was– it’s an argument from silence.

    Furthermore, every one of the commandments (except the one about the Sabaath) was intensified in Matthew by Jesus Himself– showing that God thought not only the action was sin, but the thought and premeditation on the thought.

    Regardless of God’s motives for having the death penalty, it was everywhere in His instructions to the children of Israel– for everything from rebellious children, to adultery, to murder.

    Saying that capital punishment isn’t something Jesus would be in favor of (or would it be sin?) on the basis of an instance where He chose not to address the issue directly is weak at best. It’s putting your own opinion in place of God’s at worst.

    — Thanks for the lively discussion, it is making me think!

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm

     

    If we knew that slavery were a fair comparison, I would not need to have made the point! The point is that we make certain assumptions about what is right and wrong, and we find evidence to support those assumptions, whereas if we were to approach the same question in 100 years time, or from a different culture or perspective, we would wonder how we could ever have held a certain view.

    Intelligent and compassionate people did not see a problem with the slave trade. Whitefield availed himself of the services of a slave when he was in America for instance. But nowadays we do not believe the slave trade was a moral undertaking, consonant with the gospel of Christ.

    So the question is: what assumptions do we make now that people will find remarkable in the future? Will people wonder how we could ever have held to capital punishment?

    Clearly it is not in my gift to persuade you one way or another, but I hope that in raising the issue and making the comparison, that you will consider it and re-examine your own position. Whether you agree with me or not is not as important as whether we have both considered the issue carefully.

    *

    On whether Jesus would want capital punishment (or slavery), this brings me on to another of my pet peeves. People say “what would Jesus do?” But the problem is that we often do not have a clue what Jesus would do. We *think* we know, because we have a conception of Jesus and how he would have acted. But it is evident that other evangelicals have a different conception based on the same Bible texts. Thus everything I read of Jesus makes me believe that he would not condone capital punishment. Yet you (and many others) arrive at a different view.

    The problem is that at least part of what informs our view of Christ derives from our culture and our internalised attitudes. So we don’t really know what Jesus would do.

    However I stand by my opinion that on the one occasion Jesus was directly confronted with the issue of capital punishment, he did not *dodge* the question – he showed us a better way.

    Jesus did not say that the woman deserved to live. He did not wink at sin. But the purpose of the law was to show us that the wages of sin are death. The woman deserved death, as did every one of her accusers. When they were brought face to face with this, they melted away. But Jesus did not deserve to die. He could still have accused her and insisted on the rightful lawful punishment, but instead he offered her forgiveness, whilst commanding her repentance.

    All the best,
    Stephen

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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