Loving Rapists and Terrorist

This week I attended a Boundaries and Ethics training, and I had a wonderful conversation with a couple of other young pastors about the message of the gospel.  Later that night, I tweeted this:

I like provocative tweets, and that’s exactly what I meant to say.  If you read the gospels (especially Matthew 5:43:48) “Love your enemies” is pretty much the command.

Everyone loves their friends and who it’s easy to love.  Our command is to love all; in practice, that means to actively love our enemies.

The conversation on Wednesday revolved around one thing: Jesus wasn’t kidding or pulling punches when he said, “Love your enemies.”

We were a bit cheeky about it.  “No really, love your enemies.  No, really, love your enemies.  No, really, love your enemies.  Terrorists and rapists and pedophiles included. *NOT MY POLITICAL PARTY* included.  No, really, love your enemies…no, REALLY, love your enemies.”

Then we started talking about boundaries.  And I realized today that my tweet, which I stand by and would tweet again, might have been oddly timed.

One national conversation this week was how many women and non-CIS people have had their bodily autonomy and sexual boundaries broken, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in violent, terrible ways.

I would claim it is a universal experience.  Everyone woman I have ever talked to about it has had it happen, even if it was the cultural norm even 30 years ago.

So I wanted to write a little bit about loving rapists and terrorists.  Because I don’t want any to hear what I wrote as accepting and downplaying the horror victims feel.

Because it is horrific, and should be named as such.

Loving someone does not mean to make their sins and their atrocities okay.  To love someone does not mean to downplay what they have done or pretend it didn’t happen.  To love someone does not mean to tell their victims that they aren’t victims.  To love someone does not make them not a rapist or terrorist, and it does not make rape and terrorism okay.

Much the same way that God loved us and provided salvation even if what we do is not okay.  Jesus didn’t make our sins okay, he didn’t make us killing each other and tear each other apart okay, he didn’t make our destruction of our planet okay.

None of that is okay.  All of it is still horrific.

But we are still loved.  And so we are supposed to love all, include those who we find horrific and who victimize.

Love and not hate.

There is something that my tweet misses, and it can’t be included to make it pithy, but it needs to be said.  The ultimate message is to love all, but there is a certain bias towards the weak and the powerless and the victimized.  Jesus loved the broken by healing and caring.

And love the money changers in the temple by turning over the tables.

Love comes in different forms, and love is not telling a rapists or terrorist that what they are doing is okay and allowing them to continue.  Love is healing, which includes healing the victim and healing the perpetrator so they can stop creating victims.

Love is calling sin sin, horror horror, and terror terror, and creating healing for the ravages of sin.

And love is trying to stop sin.

I can’t write the practical method of loving a rapist or a terrorist that also heals and does no harm to their victims, but I know that I must love them even if I despise them.

You are called to to the same.

Hopefully that through just the right amount of more mud into the muddy waters so it’s murky enough to be helpful.

Peace,
– Robby

Love Thine Enemy

43 “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you

– Matthew 5:43-44 CEB

Last week at Bible study one of the men, with a pained look on his face asked:

“God created everyone and loves everyone, and that includes the terrorists who killed those kids in England, right?  How do you accept that?”

I responded with a comment about how those who are dying as terrorists are usually just horribly misguided children, and those in charge are the ones pulling the strings, and that we should mourn their death, as well, because they are loved children of God.

A good response, I supposed, but what I wanted to say was, “Yeah, it’s be really freaking nice if God would come down and explain to us how He loves someone who would murder a bunch of innocent children for simply going to a concert, innocent children who did nothing wrong.”

How do you love your enemies?  How do you look at someone who means harm to the most innocent of us, and say, “I love you. God loves you.”?

And even if you can look at the misguided footsoldiers of an evil master with love, compassion, and sympathy, how do you look at those who are brainwashing them and using them as disposable tools of violence, and desiring the destruction of the innocent, all for selfish and hateful gain?

Or let’s go out a step further.  How do you look at a politician who makes decisions that you know – or at least strongly suspect – will have a detrimental effect on the lives of the weak and innocent, all to the gain of the powerful, and say, “I love you.  God loves you.”?

And how do you not just fall to your knees, screaming at God, “Why do you love them?  Why do you allow them to be in power?  Why?”

I don’t know.  I don’t know, and I can’t pretend to have an answer.  I gave an answer when the question was presented to me, but I don’t know.

But that’s what we are called to do.

God loves us all, even those we condemn as evil and irredeemable.

I’ve been asked recently what I believe the future of the PC(USA) is and the answer I keep coming to is this: if we can learn to work with each other and see each other not as enemies but brothers and sisters in Christ, and if our focus can be on showing Christ’s love with the world and not on yelling at each others, we might stand a chance; if not, we will die out.

I realize, writing this, that even if we do see each other as enemies – the though of which makes my soul mourn – we still are to love each other.  I know that I have pastors, ministers, and faithful people of the entire spectrum who may see the link to this, and I ask you all if you are showing love to those you disagree with, even if you see them as your enemy, or are you simply showing them hate and judgement?  Because tearing ourselves apart will not do anything for the body of Christ or for us individually.

Love your enemies, and also learn who an enemy is.  But most importantly, love your enemies.

Peace,

– Robby