How To React Righteously to Terrorists
Scriptural example of how to react to horrific events and terrorist acts. These are my thoughts
boy the ticking time bomb scenario rears its ugly head yet again:
Imagine a situation where you have a ticking bomb that will kill a school full of innocent children. You have a man with the code to turn the bomb off. You just saw him torture an innocent child for the sheer joy of doing so. You know with absolute certainty that if you pull out his finger nails with pliers, he will give you the correct information and the children will be saved. If you don’t pull out his fingernails with pliers then the bomb will explode and the children will be killed. What do you do?
Clearly, this is an unrealistic hypothetical on a lot of levels, but it is useful because it forces us to confront the basic question of whether or not we are willing to stick by an absolute prohibition on torture regardless of the consequences, or if we are willing to consider the consquences when making our decisions. Are we true Kantians or consquentialists.
you are right, there are far too many unrealistic things in this hypothetical to make it a good enough analogy for real life practice.
Let me provide you with an analogy from scripture and let me see what you think.
Imagine that you are in a city where the rulers have such a hatred for your teaching that they not only take you captive but they burn your books, take those you taught and start throwing them in a pit of fire to burn to death. What do you do? Do you try and stop the murdering of innocents? You could, after all you have the power from God to do so. Let’s look at the example in the Book of Mormon. Turn with me to Alma 14. Amulek says the following:
10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
What was Alma’s response? Was it to go grab their fingernails and get them to stop burning the people to death? Let’s read on.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the dinnocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
12 Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.
13 And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.
14 Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a blake of fire and brimstone?
Can you find a more painful and tragic scenario in the scriptures for innocent people? Yet what was the response from the Prophet of the Lord? Did he lower his standards to protect the innocent? Why did Alma sacrifice the innocent in this case?
Let’s look at another example in the Book of Mormon where innocent people are killed and those that could do something about it didn’t, or let me say differently, they didn’t lower their standard. Please turn to Alma 24. Here the Lamanites come upon the Anti-Nephi-Lehis to murder them. Let’s see what happens here. The Lamanites come upon them, slay about 1000 of them while they were prostrated on the ground praising God.
24 Now when the Lamanites saw this they did aforbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had bswollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done.
25 And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.
26 And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were asaved.
Instead of continuing the slaughter, these Lamanites were converted, more than had been slain. What did Ammon do during this time? He had previously faced off against a great number of sheep thieves, killing the leader. He could easily have done a William Wallace speech and rallied the ANLs to fight for their freedom against oppressors. But what did he do? Nothing. He let the slaughter happen. Why? As we see, more were converted than were killed. Let’s continue the story, and see just how the two situations are tied together.
The Lamanites were angry that some of their own had just converted. Their anger led them to go over to the Nephites and quickly murder everybody who lived in the city of Ammonihah, the very town that had just murdered innocent people, throwing them into the flames, in Alma 25. This still did not quelch the anger the Lamanites felt towards the ANLs so they tried to go after them again to murder them. What did Ammon do this time? Did he face them off? No, as we read in Alma 27, this time, Ammon took them to the Nephites. I like what the Lord told Ammon in verses 11 and 12:
11 And it came to pass that Ammon went and inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said unto him:
12 Get this people aout of this land, that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them; therefore get thee out of this land; and blessed are this people in this generation, for I will preserve them.
Who will preserve them? The Nephites? Nope. The Lord. In all of this, all this murder of innocents, did the righteous Nephites EVER lower their standard? Never. Not once. Not when innocents were being thrown into a burning pit. Why should we?