There has been a lot of controversy in our country about the use of torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” to gain information. Both sides of the issue have stated their case boldly and with vigor. Unfortunately, those who supposedly stand for morality and liberty have more often than not taken the position that torture is morally justifiable, necessary, or even good. However, I believe that a biblical understanding of this issue will lead us to the conclusion that torture is morally wrong, even as a means of supposedly saving lives.
First, the Golden Rule is one of Jesus’ basic ethical statements.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Paul stated it this way:
“Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
I do not know anyone who could say that they want to be waterboarded, or that inflicting pain or terror on others is an act of love. Torture is a violation of the most basic moral teaching of Jesus.
Second, torture is immoral force that is outside the government’s proper jurisdiction.According to Romans 13, the government exists to punish evil, and that is why it uses force.
“For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:4
When the government tortures, it does not do so as an act of punishment. It is not concerned with the guilt or innocence of the one being tortured; it is only concerned with the information it can gather. Now they may use this information to punish those who do evil, but the end does not justify the means. When government uses unjustified force, it has crossed a very serious line.
Third, torture sets a very dangerous precedent. Some of those being tortured are held without trial. They are not being accused and punished, but tortured and indefinitely detained. This is a very serious precedent. If the government can suspend the civil liberties of foreign terrorists who are not citizens, it can suspend the liberties of law-abiding Americans as well. A government that can torture is a government that can do almost anything.
America should take the moral high ground and only use the sword to punish those who do wrong. Lovers of righteousness and liberty should examine their position carefully, and ensure that they are truly supporting morally just policies.