I don't think many people have exactly mourned the passing of Saddam Hussein. I condemn his execution as a violation of human rights and every reason I argued in yesterday's entry, but I must emphasise the important distinction I make here - a basic respect for human rights consistently in all cases and a belief that execution is a gross breach of these rights in no way condones a person's acts. However, there is quite a difference between condemning a person's acts as abhorrent and openly celebrating their death. There is little that is as tasteless as rejoicing in a person's life being brought to an unnaturally early conclusion. Regardless of what they may have done, dying is not a pleasant thing, but painful both physically and mentally. It is certainly not something to be greeted with jubilation and glee like it is a game of sport.
And yet I have seen professing Christians come forth and praise God for Saddam's death, contend that it is belief in Christianity that obliges them to support the death penalty, and that this is some kind of divine justice. None of this makes logical sense, and I would contend this to be a self-evident truth rather than one I must explain and justify. What has most disgusted me, however, are the expressions of hope that Saddam will burn in Hell. I do not believe in Hell. I think it is one of the most hideous doctrines to be introduced to Christianity. And it absolutely repulses me when those who profess belief in it take it so lightly that they would gleefully condemn someone to an eternity of incomprehensible torture. That is not justice, that is bloodthirsty and reprehensible, and it reveals a complete lack of compassion or even understanding of the gravity of the situation.
When presented with hate of this nature, I cannot help but think of the words of Jesus himself. There are plenty of quotes I could choose. The proclamation of "love your enemies" and its related commands in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27 come to mind as some of the most appropriate. Those who would condemn any other person, regardless of their history or status, to Hell would do well to keep this in mind: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:2) As I am sure they subscribe to a literal reading of the modern English text and interpret that passage to refer to the afterlife, they better keep it in mind and think twice before wishing anyone burns in Hell!
Then, of course, I am reminded of that popular Christian cliche, "love the sinner but hate the sin". What troubles me is that those who most loudly proclaim that statement are those who most blatantly fail to subscribe to it. We have seen it in their treatment of homosexuals, and now we see it in their response to Saddam Hussein. They allow their gut emotional responses and immature bloodlusts to develop their hatred of Saddam Hussein's reprehensible acts into a hatred of the man's very existence, in direct defiance of "love the sinner". These people lack any nuance in their response by depicting Saddam as the embodiment of pure evil and viewing the world simplistically in black and white instead of recognising the mass of grey. Some individuals may be darker than others and Saddam was certainly nowhere near even approaching light, but to outright consider someone to be pure evil is intellectually lazy.
This entry has, unfortunately, not been as articulate or as in depth as I wished it to be, mainly because I'm really tired right now, but I promised a few people this entry would be up today and I wanted to write it, so here it is. I believe it is cases like these that reveal people's true nature. It is easy to follow Christ's commands and wish the best when someone you don't know and don't actively dislike dies, but it is much more of a test when it is a person like Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, I am just disgusted that some people think Saddam's reprehensible crimes somehow permit them to piss on their own decency and religion and condemn him to Hell. Do I even need to quote John 8:7, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? I apologise on behalf of Christianity for every adherent of the religion who has expressed a wish that someone, anyone, may suffer eternal torment.
And with that written, I shall depart for bed and ignore midnight. Stuff New Year's Eve. I just want it to be 2007 already.