What is the Biblical response to terrorism? The Word of God deals with
every subject and lays down the Godly principles which must be followed.
This report deals with general principles that I believe are based on the Word of God. You can judge for yourself.
We will pose questions which thoughtful readers must consider and answer. Never is it intended to condemn, but to cause us to be wise and understanding of our times.
Having said that: What is the Biblical response to terrorism?
Acts of terrorism have been called a "Wars" against whatever the terrorism was targeted. To begin, we need to look at this a little more closely. Calling it a war offers the terrorists the dignity of being called soldiers. A title that I, personally, do not feel they deserve. What we have here is not a declaration of war, but acts of cold-blooded murder. Mass murder on a giant scale, but murder nevertheless. If it were an act of war the target would have been purely military. To target civilians is murder. So, it is to the Biblical principles concerning murder to which we must turn.
It is the civil government's responsibility to enforce God's Law in criminal cases [see Is Biblical Law Valid Today? ]. The response to acts of terrorism must come from the governmental level. "For he [rulers in authority] is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." [Rom. 13:4, NKJV] For individuals to strike back independently would be an unlawful vigilante action. This is what leads to lynch mobs and more innocent people being killed. Individuals must, of course, support the civil government in all legitimate responses to terrorism. What some of those responses are we will consider later.
Before we come to that we must; however, consider two Biblical prerequisites in dealing with terrorism. We must have these two areas straight before we consider a Biblical response. After all, if we respond in a wrong way or from wrong motives then, we ourselves are also guilty of murder and not justice. The right action must be taken and it must be taken with the right motives and attitudes.
The first thing we must do is to have a clean heart. Forgiveness is a necessary prerequisite. There is much misunderstanding on the subject of forgiveness.
Let's quickly clear up some common misconceptions:
1. Forgiveness does not downplay the guilt or the responsibility for the offense. The very fact that forgiveness is needed reveals that an offense has occurred and needs to be dwelt with.
2. Forgiveness does not mean that we forgo justice. We can forgive but we should still, at least in criminal cases, pursue justice. In fact, only with forgiveness can we pursue Godly justice with minds unclouded by bitterness, anger, and hate. Criminals, including terrorists and their accomplices, must be required to be accountable for their actions and pay the just price as defined in the Bible.
3. Forgiveness does not mean that we forget. The memory of what has happened with the acts of terrorism and how our lives and the lives of others have been changed will be with us forever. The memory is painful and may be so for a long time. That is natural. With forgiveness, over time, the memory will lose its pain. Forgiveness cleanses the wound to allow it to heal. If we allow the wound to become infected with bitterness, resentment, anger, or hate then it will fester and we will poison ourselves! If we do that we have only further harmed ourselves and done nothing to the terrorists [except maybe give them pleasure in the additional harm we have done to ourselves].
In forgiving we are releasing the terrorists into the hands of God. While we should pursue all legitimate means of bringing them to justice now, we recognize that ultimately it is God [Who alone knows all the facts and motives] Who will judge and render a just and suitable verdict. He will have the final word in time and eternity. We must trust Him to do what is right and just whether we understand it or not. [Ps. 7:8-17; 9:7-8, 15-16; Ps. 10; Acts 10:42; 1 Peter 4:5]
As we pursue justice, are we doing it with a clean heart? Are our own motives pure and clean? Are we interested in justice or is all we want revenge? Are we reacting because God's order had been violated and people lives taken and damaged, or are we reacting out of fear, wounded pride, political advantage, or other motives? Each individual and nation must search its own soul and answer these questions. All revenge can offer is a blood feud of murder, bitterness, and hate. Without a clean heart we are not pursuing justice regardless of our response.
The second prerequisite is that we must have clean hands. [Ps. 1:6] In other words, in order to pursue justice against someone else we must be innocent of the same crime. This is an underlying principle of Biblical law but Jesus stated it specifically in relation to the woman taken in adultery [John 8:1-11]. Jesus said to the men accusing the woman, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." [Vs. 7, NKJV] My understanding is that in the Greek the person who is innocent of this specific sin [not sin in general] is the one to accuse. The fact that the accusers all turned and left is an admission that each one of them was also guilty of adultery specifically. So a thief cannot complain if his goods are stolen, an adulterer cannot wine if his spouse commits adultery, a deceiver should not cry if he is scammed, etc. [Also see Ps. 7:3-5] This does not justify the sin in these cases but, to pursue justice the accuser must be innocent of the crime he is trying to place on someone else.
How does this apply in our case of terrorism? As said at the beginning of this report, it is the civil government's responsibility to pursue justice according to God's Word.
In order to pursue justice against acts of terrorism with clean hands we must consider the following areas of "clean hands":
One: Are we ourselves innocent of terrorist attacks? Did people
within our own governments know in advance what was going to happen?
Are our own hands innocent in these specific acts of terrorism? We need to approach
this with an open mind to discover
the truth regardless of the pain that the truth might bring. We have
to control our emotions and consider all the facts.
Area Two: Have we ever contributed to or initiated acts of terrorism in other countries? Have we ever financed, approved, or helped others commit acts of terrorism? There is nothing wrong with helping people fight against oppressors, but if these "freedom fighters" themselves resort to murder, terrorism, rape, torture, etc and we continue to support them after we have discovered these facts, then we ourselves are guilty by association. We are accomplices after the fact to each dark deed. If we have continued to support them then we have confessed that we approve of their methods. Are our hands clean?
Area Three: Terrorism resulting in death is an act of murder. The Biblical punishment for murder is death [Gen. 9:5-6; Nu. 35:30-33] [see Should Christians Support Capital Punishment For Murder? ]. A person who murders one person is as much a murderer as a person who murders thousand's. We cannot pursue justice outside our country if we fail to pursue justice within our country. Are murderers within our borders given capital punishment? Is the murderer who robs a family of its father, or mother, or children put to death? Is each innocent life taken atoned for? In the United States very few murderers are sentenced to death. In Canada, to our shame, none are. Other countries may vary. Are our hands clean from the innocent blood shed within our own borders by our own citizens?
Also within Area Three, we must consider how many unborn children are murdered every year. Their blood stains our lands. Their silent cry for justice for the most part goes unheard, at least by governments. Some murderers are nice and polite and wear doctor's masks. While we condemn the terrorists do allow other murderers to walk our streets with no or only minor consequences for their life robbing actions? Are our hands clean? As stated above, these are issues which require government level action, not vigilante action. However, if we, as individuals, do not hold our governments accountable, then we are approving of these actions and share in their guilt. Are our hands clean?
If our hearts and hands are clean, what is the Biblical response to terrorism?
It is our duty and responsibility as a nation and as individuals to do everything in our power to bring the criminals to justice. This, of course, includes not only the actual people who committed the murders, but also anyone who knowingly assisted them or who had foreknowledge and refused to warned the intended victims [Deut. 19:15-21]. While this doesn't necessitate war, it may include it if nations harbour criminals [This doesn't put the Canadian government in a very good light since they have refused to return suspected murderers to countries in which they may face the death penalty]. We must remember that the moral principle at stake is the same whether one person has been murdered or thousand's have been murdered. The quantity of victims changes the degree, but not the foundational principles.
When captured, the suspected terrorists must stand fair trial for their acts of terrorism. They cannot just be assumed guilty nor can a government simply declare them guilty. They must be proven guilty in a court of law. Sometimes it may be hard to get the suspects an unprejudiced trial, but when they are apprehended it must be sought out. The trial must be public [and if convicted, so must the executions]. [Nu. 35:30-33; Deut. 17:6 , 19:15]
We must be very careful not to hurt innocent people or nations in our quest for justice. We must be very cautious not to allow our remaining freedoms to be stripped from us by laws preying on a fear of terrorism or a desire for revenge. We must be watchful and wise.
If our hearts or hands are not clean, then there is a preliminary step which must be taken. There is no justification for a terrorist attack and the actions of terrorists deserve the full penalty of law, but if we are not innocent ourselves or if our motives are wrong then we need to repent. We must be clean ourselves before we can judge the crime of another. Repentance may include tears and prayer, but it must not stop there. If it is genuine repentance then there will be a change in our hearts and in our nations. This change will evidence itself in our laws. Every country is at heart religious and laws are simply where the country's religion gets practical [for more information take the free e-mail course Master Life]. Ungodly laws will be repealed, innocent victims will be protected, and their tormentors given the appropriate Biblical penalties. The Word of God will indeed become the highest law of the land. Freedom will be enhanced and civil government downsized to the degree allowed under Biblical law. Governments will realize that they do not have the authority to make law only to apply the Divine Law to specific situations. [Deut. 17:14-20; Is. 33:22] If we are going to have repentance, let's have the real thing.
After we have begun to put our own house in order we will be able to pursue justice against terrorists and those who harbour and support them. We will be able to move into response one with a clear conscience. If we have unclean hearts or hands and we are unwilling to change then we are only becoming ourselves what we profess to hate. Our self-deception will not deceive anyone but ourselves.
Every citizen and every nation should examine their own hearts. I am not writing this to accuse any person or nation, but that all readers will examine their own hearts and their own nations with an open mind and come to their own conclusions. Only God knows the complete truth in each case, but we will still be accountable for our actions or lack thereof.
The greatest danger is for us to live in fear and allow our governments to deprive us of our freedom in the guise of protecting us. When we wake up in a police state, then the terrorists will really have won.
For those of you who may fear that terrorism is a sign of World War III or the Antichrist or the last days or the New Word Order or whatever I suggest you read the reports under Bible Prophecy and subscribe to the e-mail courses Secret Signs Of Christ's Coming and Book Of Revelation.