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Abuse Alleged


Summary of article: Three 82nd Airborne officers and NCOs say that abuse was routine in Iraq, often done for amusement.

A Perspective on Abuse

By Thomas Lee Abshier, ND


To begin with, I do not believe we have yet degenerated to the state where we are thirsty for abuse and torture of our fellow man. But, I do believe such behavior occurs, and I do believe that such behavior illustrates the principle of “pockets of evil” in a system. And, the more depraved the society, the larger the pockets can become before detection, enforcement, and elimination function of society applies a corrective force against these cells of evil. I believe that we as humans are subjected to the temptations to evil every day, and that human institutions are setup to regulate and minimize the expression of evil. Nevertheless, pockets of evil can and will form. If the immune system of righteous judgment is not strong in the society, the pathogen can spread and infect subsystems, systems, the control systems, and eventually even the entire body causing its demise. It is against such evil that we struggle, each of us on our own level of authority.

Provided the allegations are true, and there is little doubt that such behavior happens, this illustrates why we need to be a nation which has a deep and mature allegiance to a real Christianity. You have argued that we are a Christian nation, and that Bush is a Christian, and therefore this type of behavior in Iraq re: torture shows the impotence of Christianity to stop evil, or the results of being a Christian and blind to the evil of the leaders out of a slavish loyalty to party, ideal, or a masqueraded image. It is my assertion that when people have committed their hearts to the Lordship of Jesus, when they daily push to overcome their own flesh, and resist the temptations to evil, when they have surrendered their own power to the power of God working inside their lives, realizing their own frailty as humans, that people are more likely to overcome the evil in themselves and the evil in their environment. I don’t see a culture of people working hard to use Godly standards to discriminate between good and evil on both personal and public levels. I don’t see us supporting that kind of effort in the media, the political rhetoric, or the general philosophy of education and parenting.

This particular incident, and most of the things that show up on the political agenda to criticize one side or the other, is not a problem with Bush or Republicans; this is a moral problem with our nation. This is what happens when we as a people try to be own Gods, what happens when people allow their flesh, peer groups, false ideologies and value systems govern their actions. A mature Christian man who had exercised his sense of discrimination about issues of proper relationship to self, others, God and Country, would recognize the errors of giving or taking orders to torture other people. To demonize Bush, etc. over issues like this is to attribute power and blame far beyond the ability of a single person or party. People, even in their best intentions make really bad valuations of priorities. It is easy and tempting to blame the problem on the Republicans, or some other group that appears to be in control, but when there is a problem it is always a distorted perception of Truth, or in the will to follow it.

I was on the college campus in the 60's-70's, in the military in the 70's, and I lived in rural Texas in the 60's, I know what it is to live among animals. There are people who are good, people who are bad, but unless the overall culture nourishes, biases, and directs the society toward righteousness, and the society has a leadership which is given authority to parent those who are brutes, the bad apples of the group will act out their animal nature and little will ever change. The police, legal, welfare, social programs, education systems are blunt tools in containing evil unless the milieu, the societal environment, presents the ongoing teaching of righteousness as its expectation, and in all things rehabilitate in the ways of the Lord. Bad apples can go up the chain of command, and yes the entire organizational system can be twisted by the influence of evil. Even the Secular Humanist recognizes evil, we all know it when we see it, we all want it to change and go away, but without an overall healthy environment nourishing Godliness, the evil culture of self will maintain significant pockets of influence.

To say that America is great or evil because the Republicans are in power is nonsense, just as it is obviously wrong to say that simply by changing the party or leader will make it all better. The power of a political party to shape the hearts of man by their platforms or policies is limited, but that power should nevertheless be used for righteousness. The ability and character of a leader is small compared to the real work of creating a society of a billion points of true light reflecting God's moral system in their own lives. But still, every leader should be a champion for placing God on the altar of every man’s heart. To really change the society man requires a commitment to the righteousness of God on the part of every man. And, even though it is ultimately the responsibility of the individual, it is helpful when the society embraces that same goal, acts as the surrogate parent, and reinforces the teaching and general environment of righteousness. People in general do not learn unless they are taught, although even in the darkest of societies, a man’s heart inside still has a glimmer of True Righteousness convicting him from within. Usually revival of the society comes from a move of the spirit on the land; but usually the hard heart of humanity needs pain, disaster, and horror to break out of our possession by pride and self-reliance to come to a place of humility and surrender to God's way.

The Secular Humanist commitment to equality, justice, compassion and all the higher qualities of life is wonderful, but it isn’t sufficient to change men’s hearts to adopt the deep and permanent changes that are necessary to create the world that you and I both want to show up in life. Anything short of a full-fledged embrace of the miracle working, transformative power of God in our lives is inadequate. The full transformation of the human heart cannot take place without surrender to an authority more powerful and transcendent than a head-knowledge of right and wrong, or the teaching or study of a philosophy of human goodness. And sadly, we are far from the embrace of this level of commitment to righteousness in our country. To look at Bush and Republicans as the source of the problem is to be totally distracted from examining the causative problem we must face as a nation and world. We need to take the currently implemented false concept of the “Separation of Church and State” shackles off of our society, and overtly teach the patterns of righteousness from the public square, attributing right standards to its true origin, indoctrinating the youth and shaping the hearts of America's young in Godly Christian values and our heritage. That may come in time, but probably bad things will happen first to push us to return to the Christian ideals and commitments of our Founders. In the meantime, all we can do is personally look inside, clean house at home, give our hearts and minds totally in dependence to the Lord as our guide, and take responsibility for being good shepherds of our daily walk.