Friday, August 28, 2009

Killing and Torture

I was recently confronted with the question, "How do you think God would feel about torturing people?" The question was, of course designed to make a point that torture was a sin. My immediate answer was, "Well, its unlawful to torture so we don't do it anyway." This was a cop out answer.
I thought more thoroughly about the question and found an old truth show up in such a difficult scenario.
It begins with the right to life, property, and pursuit of happiness. We assume all men to have these rights while in the state of nature. However, upon entering the state of war, people give up those rights. So in this situation, the American military has captured somebody who has willingly fought America, or given up their rights. If there is information, that they are willingly keeping, that could help us save lives, especially innocent ones, then they are continuing their war against us. Torture can be looked at as a battle on a different front, and it is our obligation to extract such information from them. God would not want us to just let the man go so that whatever plan the enemy had could come to fruition. We are not only using a principle of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, but it is within our rights, as they gave up theirs, to use the means available to us to save many more.
This does not mean I endorse cruel or unusual punishment or random tortures, but sometimes torture is the only way to extract information to save many people. The person we torture may not like it, but we are forcing him to suffer so that many more don't have to. I will also concede that there are plenty of situations that do not require torture and plenty of times where torture isn't really worth the trouble. I would also say that it is a sin to let people die because you didn't want to hurt somebody. That is not only cowardice, but will not help anybody.

1 comment:

  1. "Using the a principle of the needs of many outweighing the needs of a few" huh? Sounds a little... socialist. The "rights" of the collective should never trump the rights of the indevidual because the collective has no rights.

    I do agree with your overall premise I think. Its a difficult issue. But that defense is a dangerous one because it can also be used to justify some seriously heinous things.