Thursday, May 13, 2010

Abraham's Intercession and Collateral Damage

The LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?“

The point of this familiar passage of Scripture is that the Judge of the Earth will not sweep away the righteous with the wicked. If ten righteous people could have been found, the Lord would not have destroyed Sodom, and when the number of righteous was less than ten, he allowed them to leave unharmed.

While we know that Abraham was interceding specifically for Lot, whom the Scripture calls "righteous" (2 Pe 2:2) despite his questionable character (Ge 19:8, 32–36); is it unreasonable to think that he would have included under the umbrella of "the righteous" those not guilty of the specific crimes that had doomed Sodom? After all, Moses uses the term generically elsewhere to mean "innocent" (Ex 23:7; Dt 25:1), as does David (2 Sa 4:11). Could Abraham not have been referring to such people as "righteous"? Or is it only Christians who can appeal to godly justice against those who would kill them in the course of using force against aggressors? Are Christians ‹bermensch who can kill the innocent with impunity?

I would suggest that even Muslims who are "righteous" (that is, innocent of capital crimes) can claim that Christians have no right to kill them while defending themselves against perceived enemies. The Muslims will still go to hell, as that is the destiny of all outside of Christ, but judgment day will not be pleasant for those Christians who are part of the killing.

How different this is from Uncle Sam, who cavalierly dismisses the death of innocent people as "collateral damage." Whether overseas in the War on Terror, where he kills unfortunate occupants of buildings commandeered by snipers or adjoining ones that have been, or at home in the War on Drugs, where he terrorizes the occupants of houses suspected of involvement in the drug trade (and kills those who attempt to defend themselves), collateral damage is no big deal to our dear uncle.

What scares me is when those who claim to be Abraham's children and worship Abraham's God talk like Uncle Sam.

"How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!" (2 Sa 4:11). As the Mogambo Guru puts it, we're freaking doomed.

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