Recently Bill Maher interviewed Dr. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas and the head of Pathway to Victory.
During their discussion, Maher asked Jeffress about the killing of Bin Laden and how it jives with Jesus’ many statements about nonviolence and loving our enemies.
Honestly, I think Jeffress’ answer was a cop-out, and it demonstrates the lengths we will go to ignore passages that don’t fit our political and theological assumptions.
The amount of hermeneutical twisting and turning necessary to limit Jesus’ words to only “personal offenses” is unconscionable, particularly for someone with an advanced degree in theology who really ought to know better.
Take the “go the second mile” teaching for example, which was about nonviolent resistance to the brutal Roman occupation. Not exactly a personal offense.
Christ’s message of loving our enemies cannot be twisted to fit nicely alongside “shooting our enemies in the face,” and I think it’s about time we stopped pretending otherwise.
[Just to clarify, I'm not suggesting there isn't a difficult conversation to be had about the role of the state in enacting justice. There is, and we can no more point to Jesus' teachings and pretend that settles it in one direction than we can point to Romans 13 and pretend that settles it in the other. My issue is rather the way we ignore Jesus' teachings altogether and act as if they pose no challenge to our assumptions about war and state violence.]