I realize that even reading those three words is deeply offensive to so many people. I just googled the words “God loves Hamas,” and there were only six results. Six. On the entire internet. So I’m aware that it’s not a very popular sentiment. But before you skip ahead to the comments section and write with all the righteous anger inside of you, please do me a favor and read what I’ve written. It is short…
First, a parable: Imagine that a group of madmen runs into a school and starts shooting at police from the windows of the school–still filled with children. Then the police, aware of all the children in that school, decide to shell the school in an attempt to kill the madmen…. killing 16 civilians–mostly women and children–and wounding scores of others. Who is to blame for the deaths? Are the madmen to blame, or are the police?
The answer is yes. Yes, the madmen are to blame. Yes, the police are to blame. Yes.
And with the violence in Palestine, with these military attacks and the death, destruction, and humanitarian crisis that naturally follows, the world argues over whose “fault” it is. “They took our land!” “They struck first!” “They are oppressing us!” “They want us dead!” “WE ARE IN THE RIGHT!” But the fault in Gaza is not with one side or the other side…. The fault is in the very concept of sides. It is in the concept of revenge. It is in the concept of meeting violence with violence. It is in the very idea that those on the other side are so far beyond redemption that they don’t deserve to live. The great tragedy of war is not how many people die. The greater tragedy is how many people are willing to kill. We all die someday….
One side screams “HUMAN SHIELDS!” The other side rattles off statistics. Over 1800 dead, 400 dead kids, almost 250 dead women…. But even distinguishing these statistics is such a messed up, “seeing things the way the world sees them” way of looking at things. As if all the men who died had it coming. The world makes distinctions between killing the “guilty” and killing the innocent, but young or old, man or woman, they all leave behind people who love them. And without an intentional break in the cycle of violence, the ones left behind end up building on the hate that look the life of their loved one until it leads to even more suffering and death. And on and on and on….
But Jesus looked at a crowd of people and said, “You have heard it said….” And just like that crowd, we “hear it said” all the time. We hear it said every time Christians make a case for carrying around very effective killing tools just in case. We hear it said when Tennessee passes a law making the electric chair legal again, just in case we run out of the chemicals we need to kill people for killing people. We hear it said when pro-Israel and pro-Gaza people both make a case for why the other side deserves to die. We “have heard it said” every day. However, there is one who says, “But I tell you… Do not resist… Turn… Hand over… Go with them… Give… Love….” Imagine if the church started acting like Jesus actually meant that stuff. The spirit of the world cries out for vengeance, but the Spirit of God cries out for mercy.
And when the world sees that mercy in action, it recognizes it as something holy. Something special. Something beyond us. Our humanity recoils as we watch people demand blood for blood, but when we witness a broken person forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, something deep in us resonates with the Spirit of God. The world has no choice but to see Jesus when they see his followers loving the seemingly unlovable. When we see the Pope washing feet of prisoners, we see Jesus. When we see a man fighting to save the life of the woman who murdered his grandmother, we see Jesus. We are called to love our enemies. Why? Because God loves them, and we are called to be like God. Even Fred Phelps? Especially Fred Phelps. Even the Boston Bombers? Especially the Boston Bombers. And this is why I love Palestine. And this is why I love Israel. And this is why I even love Hamas. Because I believe that God Loves Hamas. Just like God loved Assyria when he sent Jonah to Nineveh. God love us–ALL OF US–and he really wants us to learn how to love each other.
Many of us would love to have a God who hates the same people we hate, but that’s not what we have. It’s easy to look at our enemies and decide they are just evil–and there might be some truly evil folks out there–but I believe that for the most part, people aren’t evil. Actions are evil. People are just deceived. What would happen if instead of thinking of people as evil, we thought of them as people who have believed a lie? How would that change how we treated them? Jesus referred to himself as “The Truth.” We do not spread The Truth by killing the people who have believed a lie. The world takes the side of Israel or the world takes the side of Gaza, but the Church is not the world. The Church has a Third Way. Our place is not to decide which side is more justified in killing the other–Our place is to work to end suffering, and to call humanity back to its senses. And this is important: Our place is not to simply stay out of it either–Even when we say nothing, our silence speaks very loudly. Oh Church–Let us bravely and lovingly proclaim this third way to a world who desperately needs to hear it!
Kudos. I think I’d be willing to give up the death penalty as long as it meant no more aggressive American wars. (If it means giving up the willingness to fight a war of defense, I’m out.) Of course that would also mean we’d have to give up our entangling treaties, which would also be a good thing.
This is, by the way, coming from an ex-Christian agnostic conservative libertarian. And, although you already know it, you do offer a more attractive – and accurate – brand of Christianity. (At first I thought this was a different Christian’s blog, and I thought: But he’s /never/ that reasonable!)
Your analogy is no analogy at all, and here’s why: Those children and teachers did not democratically elect those madmen to represent them. They did not say to those madmen, “We trust you with our future. Here are billions of dollars that the world has given us to build schools, roads, hospitals, industry.” Hamas has taken all the good will that Israel had toward Gaza in 2005 and squandered it, along with the billions of dollars that should have been used toward bettering life for those people. Instead, they used the money to construct tunnels to kill and kidnap Israelis. In addition, you quote Jesus quite a few times in your essay. Need I remind you that the people we are talking about, the Jews and the Muslims, do not believe in him as the messiah, and his words hold no weight with them? Lastly, as someone who lived in Israel and knows of what I speak, Israeli children are not raised to hate Palestinians. The Palestinians teach their children from birth to hate Jews. The Israelis have always been willing to live alongside Arabs peacefully. The Arabs would kill every Jew on the face of the earth, if given the chance.
^^ point missed, Veronica
The children and teachers did not elect the madmen, therefore it’s OK to kill the children and teachers for the madmen’s crimes?
Jesus’s principles can be applied to Muslims and Jews without selling Jesus to them. Use their own peace prophets; I imagine you could find one even for the Muslims, and they’ll also speak of love and the golden rule.
As with most generalities, there is likely a grain of truth to your final few sentences, but generalities (almost) always have exceptions. At what point does extinguishing guilty lives no longer justify extinguishing innocent ones? And how do you know you’re not creating more enemies out of those who survive, both inside and outside of Gaza?
Jesus is revered as a prophet in Islam.
It’s been a while since I looked at their views, but as I recall they redact Jesus’s words so much that he doesn’t really affect their theology. But hey, if I’m wrong about that then yeah, that would be a good option.
I’ve realized that I misunderstood your first point, so scratch my first paragraph.
You are so very right – very well thought out and written. Finally someone who totally gets it.
An excellent article and powerful reminder that we do not fight against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Veronica, I have known many missionaries in the Bethlehem area whose theology tends to make them pro-Israel but the reality of the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel makes their hearts bleed for the Palestinians. Their various individual and combined experiences confirm that this article does not give us the solution for those on the ground, let alone the immediate steps that would take us to such a solution.
What I do see in this article is the need for prayer for those on both sides whose personal experiences and “education” (brainwashing) have left them with no apparent option but hatred and retaliation. Further, rather than obsessing about the government, ideology, and horrors of either side, we need to love the people of both sides. If everyone who reads this article agrees with it, will it save even one life? Probably not, but it may help us heal some of the divides in our societies.
@Bj, no, the point was understood. Just foolishly naive, in my view.
Reblogged this on live primitive and commented:
Incredible insight. I shared it with my church community and many friends. Brilliant.
Thank you for reblogging it!
So exactly how do you propose to do this? Throwing out tired platitudes like “God loves us all” is all well and good, until you try to implement it. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that if the Palestinians put down their guns, there will be no more fighting. If the Israelis put down their guns, there will be no more Israel. What part of that do you think is untrue? And how exactly do you think “God loves Hamas” is going to convince the Palestinians to stop hating and killing Jews? Please do enlighten us.
I think I asked this in your last essay about the Middle East conflict, but no one answered me so I’ll ask again. If Mexico was indiscriminately bombing Houston, what would the U.S. do? Would we sit back and say, “Oh those poor people are so underprivileged and undernourished. Let them bomb us to their heart’s content?” No, we’d bomb the hell out of them, until every person on the face of the earth knew that bombing the U.S. wouldn’t be a good idea. Why do people deny that Israel has a right to defend itself? Yes, the number of casualties has been very lopsided. Is it Israel’s fault that they’ve invested in bomb shelters and Iron Dome technology to protect its citizens? Gaza could have that, too, if they’d spent their money on those things instead of the foolish way they’ve spent it. Look, I’m not saying that Israel has done everything just right here. They’ve made plenty of mistakes. But I can’t understand the whole “God loves Hamas” thing. He most certainly does not.
You’re right. The U.S. would definitely bomb the hell out of them. And I’d still be sitting here in the safety of my home, protected by my freedom of speech, proclaiming that doing so is contrary to everything that Jesus stood for. Just like I did when we bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Does the God you worship only love the people who think like you? That is a weird concept to me….
I should note here that in some respects I agree with you, Veronica. I would support retaliation in the situation you named. I also support retaliation in principle for Israel. I do think explosions are not generally a good idea in urban warfare, though, because I hate civilian casualties. See “generalities” in one of my other posts.
My ideal immediate outcome would be the UN occupation that Hamas has proposed. Hopefully Israel is OK with that, even though it includes Jerusalem. In lieu of that, I think assassinations are the least-bad idea I’ve seen.
It’s significant at this point that I’m an ex-Christian agnostic, and therefore I’m not bound to Jesus’s words of pacifism. However, I probably would have had a very similar opinion as a Christian, because I didn’t go all out on literal interpretation. I think Chris will count it a compliment that I think he’s exhibiting unreasonable integrity – and it is, partly.
The part where your blog falls apart is when you say “actions are evil but pople aren’t.” The scripture bares out the fact that before I was saved, I was an enemy of God. Countless examples in both Testaments show that “evil” overtakes individuals leaving the innocent in danger. Yeah I know, you pick and choose scripture, but here’s one for you….just to point out your hypocrisy…
The KKK is still an organization here in America. I have never read their Charter but imagine if it said, “African Americans are descendents of Apes and Baboons. We intend to decimate them to the point where they hide behind a tree or rock, the rocks will cry out, here is one of your Afican Americans hiding for you to kill! ” Now say to show their seriousness, they kidnapped every black American they could capture and littered the streets with their bodies while sending rockets into the projects of Detroit, Chicago and Newark. I could imagine you writing a Blog about how God loves the KKK too and all we need to do is understand them!….while decent Americans would be seeking them out and destroying them! You think you have some sort of moral high road because you can twist the Word of God to make yourself sound so much higher than others. You can do that because you are thousands of miles away from Israel and have no one you love at risk. The example I gave brings it home and I dare say you would not be blogging your sentiments in that situation! You are an idealogue…..that’s all!
Firstly, we have been over this before–The Word of God always has been, and always will be, Jesus. But I assume that when you say I “twist the Word of God,” you are implying that I am twisting scripture.
You are right. I have twisted scripture into the radical idea that it implies we should be loving our enemies instead of killing them. And this makes me an ideologue who thinks I’m “so much higher than others.” It is clear that what the Bible was actually trying to say was that we should only love the people who love us. We are not supposed to forgive the REALLY bad people (KKK and Hamas)–just the sort of bad ones. Yup. Twisting scripture.
If you believe (like I assume you do) that everyone deserves to be tortured in Hell for all eternity, it must make it a lot easier to give your approval to killing thousands of people. Or one….
You know what? You’re right. I am an ideologue. I mean, what kind of person would think to love people who hate him? What kind of person would call for blessing those who curse him? That’s just crazy! Probably the sort of person who would do something as crazy as forgiving people for torturing and murdering him WHILE they were torturing and murdering him…. It’s crazy.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Without accepting the gift that Jesus bestowed upon us, yes, we are destined for hell or simply put, separation from God, but it is His desire that none should persish, However it’s our choice. Jesus laid down His life for Others. Many Israeli soldiers have laid down their lives to protect the innocent. You are not like Jesus. Jesus did not come to do away with the Old Testament but to fulfill it. We can learn a lot from the entirety of scripture. You think you have the whole story yet you pick and choose. The “Word” is the representation of God’s Charactor. Jesus is that. So is Scripture. How else do you even know of Jesus?
One does not have to hate in order to decapacitate an enemy bent on decimating a race. He just does his job because that is what is required. Jesus never told the Centurian to leave the army. In fact he exhorted the man for his faith. Do you take issue with that fact?
God loves all of His creation,yet love does not shrink from responsibility when it comes to defending the innocent from those wishing to do evil. I think you are afraid to define evil.
I’d like to humbly suggest a third position for this argument: Loving someone does not preclude killing them. This might entail regret, and hope that, somehow, they have their affairs in order despite needing to be ejected from this life. Chris: I would expect this to be /easier/ without belief in an eternal hell, but whatever.
“God loves Hamas” makes total sense to me within Christian theology, alongside a belief that certain extreme troublemakers (murderers and warmongers, and maybe a few others), such as Hamas, should be killed for the sake of society. Yeah, I’m agnostic, but I still remember what I used to believe, and I’m surprised that neither of you has suggested this.
mihpte, your comment shows quite a degree of wisdom.In that sense, God does love Hamas. All life is eternal. When someone is removed from the earth, as the Bible says, they face judgement. Those innocent that die as human shields behind the rockets of Hamas will be vindicated and rewarded. Those Palestinians that permitted Hamas the power they hold will be judged likewise.
I grieve, as do the Israelis , for all loss of innocent human life. Hamas openly rejoices anytime an innocent dies to further their cause. They are decieved. Heavenly judgement is the correct answer!
Hmm, I must have misjudged the conversation, as you apparently /were/ offering that opinion.
Even though I support any self-defense kill, which much of what Israel is doing definitely qualifies as, I support the UN occupation option even more. I don’t think killing more Hamas is going to end this conflict. I’m not sure the UN can, either, but I hope they get a shot.
And what Chris is proposing is an even better solution, insofar as it works. Unfortunately I think it can only be pursued in parallel with one of the others.
If the Jews decided to love the Palestinians, there would be no more Jews. Your self righteous chest beating does not change that.
Do you think the rest of the world would let the Jews be wiped out if they laid down their weapons? That’s a pretty bleak view of our role as bystander and our capacity to help….
But fine–I get that we do not agree. For you, there is only one option that you can imagine. And that is Israel killing their enemies. This means that you can also not imagine Jesus could have meant what he said in the sermon on the mount, right? I don’t know you, Veronica. Do you call yourself a Christian?
How do you suppose the rest of the world could stop the anti-semetics given your logic? Talk them out of it? You’ve got to be kidding!
Do I call myself a Christian? Absolutely not. I’m Jewish. And there is no doubt in my mind that the rest of the world could do nothing to save the Jews if they laid down their weapons. They would be slaughtered and gone within days. You are wrong when you say that there is only one option that I can imagine – Israel killing their enemies. Israel has tried, time after time, to make peace. They have given the Palestinians 95% of what they demanded, and yet, it is not enough. They will not rest until the Jews are extinguished. Have you read this op-ed piece by a retired Israeli general? It’s tough, but I understand where he’s coming from.
I have read it. It is disturbing, and it is born of the same sentiment that sent the Jews to the gas chambers.
And the fact that “there is no doubt in your mind” is what keeps you from imagining a peaceful end to this.
That is too far, in my opinion. At least let people leave Gaza and go elsewhere. Displacement is better than death. Saying that none who accepted free bus tickets were innocent would be a little closer to reasonable – but I’m not certain I’d accept that offer in a similar situation. The war makes sense as defensive from both sides (except for those shooting rockets from home), which is why I oppose it more than I would an ordinary defensive war.
And I think I understand where he’s coming from, too, but I think he’s wrong. It’s not possible to be guilty of war before you can talk. And I highly doubt that 100% of Palestinian 8-year-olds have war in their hearts. Many adults are probably against the war, unless you think that’s disproved by something they /haven’t/ done?
Here’s a thought that may help this conversation, or might actually drive a wedge. This reminds me, and is probably colored by, the stories in the Tanakh of wars against the Ammonites, Moabites, and [etc.]ites. The logic seems very similar, and I can’t say it doesn’t make sense. But, right or wrong, it’s horrible, and I want it to be wrong.
That should have been “none who rejected free bus tickets.”
Very eloquent. Your message speaks even past religion to simply ranking humanity and compassion over blame and hate. Thank you for putting into words something I have been struggling with in regards to this whole situation.
Boeskool, you know that the Hamas charter calls for the annihilation of the Jews. How can you reasonably assert that if the Jews stop fighting, the Palestinians will stop their campaign to kill every Jew on earth? Please tell me how you imagine this ending.
There are hate groups here in the United States who would advocate for the extermination of the Jews. If one of those groups is located in downtown Atlanta, it doesn’t mean we send explosive shells into the city until we have turned half of Atlanta into rubble.
I believe that if Israel started actively loving their enemies, the support of the world would be so overwhelmingly against Hamas, their plans would fail. Their plans rely on Israel fighting back and killing more people–Thereby inspiring more hatred and war and death.
How do you not get this?
How do YOU not get this? It’s not just Hamas that wants to see Jews exterminated. “The support of the world,” as you put it, is already overwhelmingly against Israel. What you are calling for would be Israeli suicide.
We obviously will have to agree to disagree on this subject. Nothing would make me tell my relatives in Israel that they should start “loving Hamas.” That’s asinine, and suicidal.
Very excellent article, one not often to be seen in Christian circles. Yet these are clearly the teachings of Jesus…FOR HIS FOLLOWERS. The world of those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord are not under His rule and therefore will not likely live by these principles. However, we who are His followers must love our enemies and love all people including the most wicked. We who are His followers must live lives of mercy, compassion and a forgiving spirit towards all, without retaliation or violence. When Jesus the Messiah. the prince of Peace returns and sets up His thousand-year rule over all the earth, from Jerusalem, His peace will reign over all the earth at last, (including among the animals, which will cease being carnivorous). And after the final Judgment, heaven will be the eternal home of peace, love and sinlessness for all believers. Love for all is the identifying mark of a true Christian.
I am a Christian. I was raised as a Quaker. Since I discovered a “relationship” with Christ and a stdying of His Word, I began to understand how “human wisdom” bent His teachings into pacifism. I live in a Country now where Christians, Jews, and Moslems are free to worship. That was not a right earned by Quaker Pacifism! We do not have Christians huddled up in the mountains waiting to starve to death or to be slaughtered as is the case in Afghanistan! Human Nature can be incredibly dark and evil. The Apostle Paul spoke about how he often wrestled his own fleshly desires in a world full of sin. Some do not even fight that fight. So called liberal/progressive Christians do not even want to acknowlege the spiritual situation we are in. Jesus told us that when He left this world in the body, we would need to carry a sword. Peter answered we have two swords (which was an excess) Jesus responded one will be enough. We need to protect our physical bodies and the innocent. The lion has not yet layed down with the lamb. That comes at Christs second coming. God/Jesus punished with death through armies, the Babylonians for burning their children in th fire. Yes, He even delivered the Northern tribes of Israel into bondage as well as execution for the same thing. One must determine the difference as to how Jesus instructed us to deal as individuals with individuals opposed to how we deal corporately with nations as a nation.Corporately, we must protect the innocent. Peter instructed us that was the mission of “government”. It takes time with study of His Word, opposed to the “liberal” way of following “what feels good.” Christians don’t follow that way of thinking.
“Human wisdom” has not bent Jesus’ teachings into pacifism. Rather, human wisdom has bent Jesus’ teachings into affirming the Christian’s right to self defense and patriotically joining their country’s army to fight its wars. When Jesus told Peter to bring a sword, it was not to teach him self defense, because when Peter used it against a man in the posse coming to arrest Jesus, Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, and healed the man Peter had injured. Clearly, Jesus was using this as a teaching moment, an object lesson. Jesus then told Pilate that if His (Jesus’) kingdom was of this world, His servants would fight in defense of their leader, but it is not from here. in 2Corinthians 10 Paul said we do not wage war or fight with the weapons that the world uses. Yes, God uses the governments and armies of this world for His purposes and to punish evil. But notice that He used godless unbelievers–the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians and Romans. Non-pacifist Christians would have had to help crucify Jesus and hunt down Christians to burn for Nero or bring into the arena for Rome. During the Inquisition, non-pacifist “Christians” literally did hunt down pacifist Bible-believing Christians as well as helpless Jews, and subjected then to unspeakable tortures and death for their governments. There are wars that must be fought for freedoms and human rights, and the governments of this world have the masses of the majority who do not follow the Prince of Peace to fight their wars.
Jesus told Peter, put away your sword, (he didn’t say “throw away your sword”or….what on earth are you doing with a sword?). Peter didn’t understand Christs mission. Jesus rebuked Peter at other times as well for taking action to thwart Gods mission.
Wrong! While Jesus walked the earth, he told his disciples, not to take a sword. Jesus warned them that after he ascended to heaven, they should have a sword. Jesus never told the Centurian that asked Him to heal his child, go your way and sin no more. Rather he told him he had not seen such great faith in all of Israel. Is not Jesus the God of the Old Testament? Do you believe He is the Alpha and Omega? Rose, tell me, if you had a child in Afghanistan and were told either to renounce your faith or your child would be decapitated, would you not use deadly force to defend your child? This is not the same as you laying down your life for your neighbors. Your children are your responsibility given to you by God. Perhaps you don’t have any….I don’t know. I believe Jesus would desire you to lay down your life in that childs defence, even if it involved taking anothers.
Jesus could have called down an army of angels…..he didn’t. It was contrary to His mission. However, he has called down armies of angels before and they fought alongside of Joshua.
The point is….Jesus was on a mission. He is the only one that could die for our sin.Jesus turned over the money changers tables in righteous anger….oh my,He brought down the walls of Jericho so the City could be conquered. He is the lamb of God but He is also the Lion of Judah!
I believe you have believed a lie. And it has twisted your theology. Please read the post I just wrote, and the speech it contains. And please don’t comment on it. Just freaking read it. And think about it. Don’t talk. Let is simmer.
@Boeskool, ISIS is killing and torturing Christians by the hundreds in the middle east. Should the Christians say, “Love ISIS?” Let’s not fight back, let’s not defend ourselves. Let’s love ISIS and see what that gets us? I’ll tell you what that will get them – death.
I just wrote a new post that answers this question, Veronica. You should read it. 🙂
I just finished reading your new column. I’m sorry to say there are no answers there.
@Boeskool, please read the following article. No doubt I will never change your mind on the subject, but at least you’ll see why Israelis feel as they do.
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