- In the opening scene of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the
Christ, we see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane engaged in a battle of
wills versus Satan. As Satan attempts to plant a seed of doubt in Jesus's
heart, the serpent enters the Garden and slowly slithers towards Jesus.
Suddenly, an expression of resolute calm comes over Jesus's face. He stands...and
shockingly crushes the serpent's skull with a stomp of his foot.
- Upon witnessing this sudden act of violence on the part
of Christ, many members of the audience let out startled cries of surprise
and disbelief. I remember that this particular scene bothered me more than
anything else in the movie, including Jesus's prolonged torture and murder.
I must forthrightly say that I am not a religious person; in fact, I have
never set foot in a place of worship or religious observance (at least
not voluntarily). With that said, if I were a betting man, I'd stake every
penny in my pocket that Jesus would not have taken the life of even the
"lowest" creature in God's Creation. Not a worm, not a bug...not
even a slimy serpent. Jesus was a pacifist continuously and unconditionally.
Ironically, just a moment later in the film, we see my theory put to the
test. The Romans locate Jesus and attempt to take him captive, upon which
Jesus's disciples offer violent resistance. Jesus, however, remains passive,
even if his non-resistance means the death of his good friends. Even when
they've gained the upper hand, Jesus tells his followers, "Those who
live by the sword shall die by the sword."
- I found Jesus's passivity more moving than anything I'd
previously witnessed in film. He begs forgiveness for his torturers, exclaiming
to God, "Oh, forgive them, Father! They don't know what they do!"
- I cannot quote from the Bible with anything approaching
literacy, but as the product of a Christian nation, a few choice lines
do stand out in my memory. I feel a deep resonance with the words, "Do
unto others as you would have them do unto you," AND, "Judge
not lest ye be judge," and most notably, my favorite of the Ten Commandments,
"Thou shalt not kill." These words are so elementary and uncompromising
that one would think they could never be a source of confusion. But surprisingly
few people, including the most allegedly devout of Christians, seem capable
of understanding the most basic of God's instructions.
- The words, "Thou shalt not kill," could not
have been more plainly written. Notice God did not add any conditions or
caveats to this COMMAND. He did not say, "Thou shalt not kill...Christians,
Americans, the law-abiding, the righteous, the good, the innocent, the
attractive, the educated, the wealthy, the able-bodied, the smart, the
charismatic, the well-clothed, the height-weight proportional, the hygienic..."
Nor did He even say, "Thou shalt not kill HUMANS." God's Commandment
- absolute and unambiguous - is that ALL Life is touched by the Divine
spark. As the children of God, we did not CREATE Life, so it is not within
our moral authority to take it away.
- Like everything else in life, God's words are made "confusing"
by the MORAL RELATIVISM of our "great thinkers." Through all
of history, mankind has found legal and "moral" justification
for the selective extinguishing of Life -constant warfare stands out as
the defining characteristic of the human condition. I will KILL this person
because he has wronged me and my family, my community, my country, my religion.
- In 21st century America, we see moral relativism as the
underlying cause of a culture of DEATH. The rule of "law" says
that Life can be taken when: 1) the Life is not "worth living,"
because the life is "contemptible" (euthanasia, the Terry Schiavo
case); 2) the Life is "inferior" and poses an inconvenience to
a "superior" Life (abortion); 3) the Life is "evil"
and/or poses a threat to innocent life (capital punishment, the war on
terror); 4) the Life is not HUMAN (the perpetual slaughter of all animal
life, including the food industry.) But I have been told by Bill O' Reilly
that America is a fundamentally CHRISTIAN nation. Are these instances of
legalized murder consistent with the most FUNDAMENTAL principle of Christianity?
Jesus stood as a passive observer even though by doing so he ENDANGERED
THE LIVES OF HIS CLOSEST FRIENDS. His words, "Those who live by the
sword shall die by the sword," implied that even those who kill to
PROTECT THE INNOCENT are only contributing to the endless perpetuation
of violence and death. This lesson is apparently lost on many self-described
Christians who view justifiable homicide (including warfare) as their happiest
- Christ's teachings are clearly predicated on one simple
fact: as human beings we are NOT CAPABLE of delineating between a "worthy"
Life and an "unworthy" Life. Look at the things we view as "admirable"
in other people: namely fame, fortune, and physical attractiveness. Are
these things of any import to God? Does God view the invalid as less than
the able-bodied, the poor as less than the wealthy, the "ugly"
as less than the attractive? The transparentness of our own insanity is
the greatest evidence that the taking of ANY Life is the domain of God,
and God alone. If American policy makers - the senators, the governors,
the congressmen, the Supreme Court justices, and the President -lived in
CONTINUOUS and UNCOMPROMISING observance of the Commandment, "Thou
shalt not kill," would evil in the world be more or less prevalent?