My Dad only spanked me once. It was either with a shoe or a belt, I can’t remember, but as I cried he teased me and said my singing (crying) sounded pretty. I was 14 when a male authority figure held my head against a wall and punched me in the face so hard it knocked me out. I remember once being whipped with a vacuum cord by that same adult. I was 17 when I saw someone get shot for the first time. It’s strange that the first thing I noticed was the smell of gun shot. The next thought I had was, “I didn’t know a bullet could do that.” It looked like flesh, blood, and jeans all mixed together. I saw my first stabbing years after that. That was the worst. I’ve been shot at more than once (it doesn’t take much of a man to pull a trigger) but it takes a monster to look someone in the face and repeatedly stab them. Such an act is mind-blasting. I’m inclined to be physical. I’ve had my share of scuffles. I’m certainly not innocent in matters of violence. These types of stories usually make people very uncomfortable. I almost never talk about them. There’s usually no reason. Most judge me in one way or another for my past and it always stings. It is what it is I guess.
So why am I sharing all of this? So that you might know that I’ve seen first hand the horrors of violence. With that unique perspective let me say without equivocation that violence is evil. It is horrible and amoral. It cannot in any way be reconciled with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. No way whatsoever. None.
Including and especially torture or enhanced interrogation techniques.
So what about those two Mormon guys who had a role in the torture of some of God’s children? If I were to venture a guess I imagine they did what they did because they see violence and the associated fear, pain, and suffering in the abstract. There’s no reference point for them. It’s all cerebral and academics. To be frank, I couldn’t care less, except to say that I hope things work out for them. I’m sure healing, forgiveness, and mercy will come. I’m positive God understands the why’s of it all and will succor them in this difficult time.
But let me be clear, as a special witness to the horrors of violence, torture is evil in every way. There is no way to justify it. THERE IS NO WAY TO RECONCILE THE TORTURE OF GOD’S CHILDREN WITH THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST! You can dance around the definition of torture all day, but the light of Christ will convict you. Violence is wrong. Surely God, and his children, can find ways to peaceably work through life’s issues. To be sure, God is a God of peace and love, and will not co-sign the evil practice of torture. His divinity, and the divinity within us, testify of these simple facts. There is but one way to identify a disciple of Jesus Christ, and that is that’s he or she has love for one and all. There are no qualifiers. No exceptions.
As one who has seen the evils of violence, trust me when I say, violence is a violation of our infinite responsibility to all of those within our circle of influence. Love and peace are always the answer.
There are surely individuals who for one reason or another lack the ability to discern truth from error, and in those unique circumstances I am happy to surrender judgment to God.
Yes to all of this. As one who has also seen more of the evil of violence than I would wish upon anyone, I think that violence only begets greater violence. I had a discussion about the enhanced interrogation techniques with a family member this week, and it’s always interesting to hear people say that some lives are worth more than others, and that even if in hindsight we understand that torture doesn’t work any better than regular interrogation, it was justified and ok under the circumstances. That makes me sad.
You cannot wash away bloodstains with more blood.
Agree with both of you.
I don’t want to conflate or infer what you have said or didn’t say (intentionally or not). The Book of Mormon and OT are possibly the most violent books ever written and (according to text) much of the violence was condoned, even commanded by God.
Though we can say torture is immoral and abhorant, I don’t know that I could say all violence contradicts the Christian tradition.
What’s attributed to Christ and God in scriptures is probably completely different than the reality of any of those situations. Scriptures are written by people, usually the victors of the story. So of course they’re going to write it in a way that justifies their actions. I refuse to believe that God or Christ cosigns on violence.
Lori, the problem is that from a religious standpoint all we have are the scriptures to tell us what God is like….and they are pretty clear that God was the author or approving authority with much violence
Yeah but at rational faiths I don’t have to cosign that God, lol. I get to call it out and say that there are better ways; better narratives. You are right about religion as a whole though, and the perpetuation of a violent, jealous God is the problem that needs to be solved.
Amen Viliami, amen.
Thank you for this.
It seems to me that LDS doctrine should especially oppose torture. Aren’t we supposed to be particularly concerned with not abusing the bodies of others, recognizing that bodies are part of the immortal soul? And, knowing that this is only act two of the three act play of eternity, shouldn’t we weight the abuse of God’s children (on one hand) against the possibility of preventing some deaths (on the other hand) slightly differently than would those who see death as the end? Is spending our mortal probation abusing the souls of others something we should feel comfortable with, in any circumstances?
These are at least some of the questions that come to my mind as I think about fellow Mormons helping create the structure of torture.
Funny not funny, 24 years ago this week, my husband was shot and killed by the police. 7 years ago I was stabbed and shot.
The past week has been a hell of an olfactory hallucination.
The gun powder. The smell. I'll never forget it. It singes my brain. It is the smell of a migraine. It is the heat of a thousand fires.
Hold still he said, hold still while I put something hot in ya.
That's barely something Jesus Can comprehend, only he can, because he was treated like ply wood and pounded with nails.
I know to, the smell of flesh..
I have been laughed at for crying out in pain.
We share much, Viliami.
And for those bonds we share, I am sorry.
This was fabulous V. I'm glad you shared it.
The notion that god is a god of peace and love is a difficult one to reconcile with the God of both the bible and the Book of Mormon. God sanctioned and caused the destruction of cities….he supposedly destroyed every living thing minus Noah and his family….he sent death upon the first borns of the Israelites….he caused nephi to cut the head off Laban….and much more. I don’t agree with torture at all but to say that God isnt a god of torture and death is a stretch….by a long shot. His actions do not match up with the actions of a loving father/omnipotent being. We constantly read about his jealously, wrath, anger, vengeance, etc….these are not words to describe a person or being filled with love. The way I see it, the actions of torture and abuse as seen from the interrogation tactics drawn up by those 2 mormons would be 100% sanctioned by the same God they believe in
Totally true points for those who believe the bible to be scribed by perfect people speaking for God. When we can see scriptures for what they are, we can see that they are oral traditions passed down that made it into written form; or it is the narrative of a people, usually the victors of war or clashing civilizations. People writing in this way will always justify their actions or victories by assigning God’s will to it.That doesn’t mean that divinity isn’t in the scriptures, but I do believe that just because a story is found within those bound pages does not mean it came from God. As for the BoM, it was inspired by the bible and simply followed the outline already given.
What evidence do we have to the contrary, however, that God is different….that he is love? I don’t believe in God or the bible but if you believe that the bible is written by imperfect men, telling their version of how things went down with regards to the violent parts then we also have to assume that when imperfect men wrote about God as love that they were also just telling their own feelings and assumptions. So when it’s all said and done, all one has is feelings and personal bias as to what they think “God” might be. Those feelings are not a reliable source for determining truth about anything.
I agree and I have come to many of the same conclusions. At the end of the day though, I do believe that the purpose of God (literal or not) is the power to help mankind succeed and become the best it can be. From that point of view, violence has no place. Love, compassion, forgiveness, service, and working together as a whole is what will help the world become its best; so I totally stand by the representations of God and Christ that support the betterment of mankind (and reject any that paint a war-mongering one). To learn to live together and love one another is why we are all here; no matter the banner we stand under that helps people keep that focus and meet that end.
Lori, I am much in agreement with you…”Love, compassion, forgiveness, service, and working together as a whole is what will help the world become its best.” I guess the part that no longer makes sense to me is why we must have a divine being that is the author of any of that? Why invent someone or something from our feelings to justify how we create that love, compassion, services forgiveness, etc? Can’t we as humans just give ourselves credit for trying to be good citizens of earth?
You won’t ever get an arm wrestle out of me about that! Which is why my view of God is different. If I use the term, I mean it as the goal of humanity; not the author. Not that we become Gods, but more that the good that we ascribe to him is when we are tapping into what the best future for humanity as a whole. But if people find solace and inspiration in an author of love and that is a compass that works for them; I’m not one to poo poo that either. Just as long as they aren’t using that deity to hurt others with their “love”.
I like that point of view, Lori.
Thanks. I appreciate your input and POV at RF Garrett.
Agreed. I also feel bad for any and all of us who know that type of violence, torture and death.
Thank you Lori 🙂
Let me get the amen repeated 3 times.
You’re just trying to get the comment count up on your post V 😉
Perhaps in this discussion of torture, we also miss a key point. Many (?most, ?all) of these prisoners that the US tortured in the years after 9/11 were never given proper trials nor even necessarily told what they were held in detention for. We are presuming that they were all guilty of terrible crimes of terrorism. Perhaps many of them were guilty, but some may have been innocent or guilty of lesser crimes. We are a nation of law and procedure for a reason – to properly administer justice and ensure that it is correctly administered. When we degrade our own legal process, we forfeit our own moral values and, indeed, damage our ability to effectively discourage and eliminate terrorism in the long run.
In the Bible there is a lot of god approved genocide and slavery.
Even in the kinder “New Testament”
There is condemnation of nonbelievers going to Hell forever. For not accepting Christ? It doesn’t surprise me when Christians support horrific things, since it is easy to find justification in the Bible. That being said I’m not saying all Christians are bad, but I think the good Christians are good people despite their religion, not because of their religion.
Powerful piece here Viliami, I enjoyed that.
But please, change your facebook comment avatar! Having a photo of someone who *absolutely* glorified violence is too much of a contradiction against what you’re trying to say here.
Unless of course you’re going for some kind of irony, in that case, carry on.
“…violence is evil. It is horrible and amoral. It cannot in any way be reconciled with the life of Jesus Christ.”
Has 2pac as his avatar.
Pretty much sums up V’s credibility on this issue.
Done and done.
2Pac is a reflection of my own paradoxes. I’m working on them.
Fair enough, can’t fault that response. We all need to acknowledge the our internal contradictions.
Interesting topic. I don’t see us (humanity) ever understanding the violence for the Bible or BofM. I don’t think this earth life is really the one God is so concerned in terms of preserving. If you try to think of forever this life is nothing on that time table. He sees in forever, we see in 80 something years.
Violence has and always will be in my life. I do what I must when other means fail. Not all conflict can be resolve peacefully. Some people don’t care and won’t stop. Violence is used to stop them. It is a tool. Though I think most of the time used very poorly. Until you are backed into a corner with nothing else you will not understand.
Torture? Never used it, don’t know much about the methods of information gathering from it. I can not rule it out if it is the means of saves innocent people.
Thanks for posting. Something to think.
The two LDS psychologists and the judge should be ashamed of themselves. Their conduct cannot be justified as torture does not provide reliable information. It inflames and creates enemies which unfortunately seemed to be what those in charge wanted.
When Nephi is commanded to kill Laban to obtain the record of his family he is confused by the command as it seemingly goes against the teachings of his father and thwreby, Christ. He us told that it’s better for one man to perish than for a nation to dwindle in unbelief (paraphrasing there a little). I’m not saying that these guys were visited by an angel that told them to torture the prisoners, but isn’t it better for some to die/suffer than for a nation to be attacked or worse?
On the surface and in my life I would agree with the author most if the time. Unless myself or my family or some other innocent was being attacked,I don’t think I could visit violence on anyone. But, woe be unto him that tries some of that!
Perhaps, Nephi mistook the spirit for his own opportunism. Then justified it with the “it is better…” line.
I would agree that people throughout history have justified what was easiest (and most horrific) to do with the “God told me to do it!” line. I don’t believe that is what Nephi did, but that only comes from my personal testimony of it. I have no physical or otherwise documented evidence to prove otherwise. I only know that The Book of Mormon is God’s dealings with his children. I believe that Nephi’s account is accurate, but I can understand your point. The only way I know to find out for as sure as we can get it down here is to read it and pray about it. I know, that’s our go to answer in this church but that’s how it works. In my opinion, anyway.
i love the start to the Book of Mormon….God gives several commandments including thr commandment “thou shalt not kill” and also “thou shalt not steal.” He then commands nephi to break both of those commandments in order to obtain the book of commandments that contains those very commandments, what a funny irony to it all….the unchanging God that is the same yesterday, today, and forever, can make exceptions to any of his commandments at any time. And it’s even better when we can justify why this unchanging God would command someone to break his commandments that were so important.
I think you’re having a point of view problem here. God gives us commandments and we live by them. He kills everybody, in a sense, doesn’t he? If he’s responsible for all life then he’s responsible for all death. I look at this like parents/children. I tell my children not to hit each other, but I will spank them when necessary. I tell them never to run out in the road, but if I can see it’s clear and there’s something important in the road that I can’t get(for whatever reason) I’ll send them out into the road to get it. I think it also bears stating that while life and death are extremely important to us, God has a little different perspective on all of that.
I can see what you’re saying, but I just look at it a little differently.
A point of view problem? There is a huge difference between god commanding someone to slice someone’s head off and a person just dying. So with God what you’re saying is that it’s a do as I say not as I do type thing, correct? Nothing points to good parenting more than that
From our point of view, yes there is a huge difference between a quiet death and a beheading. To God, I can only assume, it’s just another child coming home. A lot of the importance that we lay on things and circumstances here in this mortal existence just doesn’t matter in the bigger, eternal, picture.
As to good parenting, when I discipline my children by spanking them when needed I do it for their benefit and their growth. Because I love them, I correct them. When I stop them from hitting each other, it’s because A)I told them not to and B)They’re NOT doing it to benefit or help each other. We both perform similar actions, but with different motives and different points of view.
Spanking a child to correct a behavior and beheading or torturing someone are not the same…not even close. “Its only a child coming home.” THis is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard. So when a woman is raped and murdered by a man who feels like God commanded him to do it we just need to understand the bigger picture…god just wanted her to come home. When Islamist extremists brutally murder men, women, and children in the name of God we just need to look at the bigger, eternal picture…god just wanted his children to come home.
If your god is a god that finds it ok to justify the brutal murder of his own children so they can come home to him then you have a sick and twisted moral framework.
The interesting thing is that your assumptions about why god would command the breaking of multiple commandments is simply that…an assumption. The only thing that we have is information that he told nephi to cut off the head of laban. It wasnt so he could bring his wayward son home…it wasnt so that he could just provide a little discipline.
There is a big difference in corrective discipline and taking away the complete agency of someone. In order for us to make the proper comparison you would have to do as god and kill your child in order to discipline them the way that god disciplines.
Your god is an unchanging god. If this is the case, then according to mormonism he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he changes then he ceases to be god. According to your point of view, god does change as he deems necessary…therefore he ceases to be god.
I am sick and tired of the ridiculous justification of immoral acts committed by god and by his people in his name. It is unsettling to see so many good people be willing to rationalize torture, justify murdering, and be ok with it because “our loving father in heaven” needed to apply some corrective behavior. this is ridiculous at best…and complete insanity at its worst.
I totally agree with what you’re saying about people using God to justify their horrible actions. I’m afraid that I’m not making myself clear as I seem to have upset you. I wasn’t saying that a beheading was God’s version of a spanking, I was saying that there is a huge difference between the motivation of one of us deciding to kill someone and God allowing someone to die, and therefore come home. We don’t get to make that choice, we don’t have that point of view. To us, as far as we can physically prove, death is the end. Certainly the end of life as we know it. To God our death is just another step on the path. Life-changing to us and commonplace to Him. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that we should look at things with an attitude of,”It doesn’t matter if I kill someone they’re just going home.” I was just saying ours won’t be the first death the Father has ever seen. My parenting analogy was meant to draw similarities between Him and us, not to make a direct item for item comparison. Not apples and oranges different, apples and apple seeds different. If that makes any sense.
But the inherent problem with Nephi killing laban is just this…that god commanded nephi to do it. God didnt just allow Laban to die…he commanded his head to be cut off. God commanded Nephi to break the commandments that he had already given. the problem is that god has repeatedly in the bible and in the book of mormon stepped away from just the attitude of allowing someone to die and instead actually commanding it.
You’re right and I don’t know why He chose to do those things. If faith was a facts and figures based thing, this would probably disqualify Him from being worshipped. There’s more to all of this than any of us know. As lame as it may sound to some, I’ve got to take Him on faith and believe that what I don’t understand will be explained at some point AND that it will make sense and even further prove God to be God.