Monday, December 08, 2008

Love Your Enemies?

Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach recently argued that people of goodwill out to passionate and actively hate people like the terrorists of Bombay. In part, he writes:

As for my Christian brethren who regularly quote to me Jesus' famous saying, "Love your enemies," my response is that our enemies and God's enemies are different parties altogether. Jesus meant to love those who steal your girlfriend, cut you off on the road or swindle you in a business deal. But to love those who indiscriminately murder God's children is an abomination against all that is sacred. Is there a man who is human whose heart is not filled with moral revulsion against terrorists who target a rabbi who feeds the hungry? Would God or Jesus ask me to extend even one morsel of my limited capacity for compassion to fiends rather than saving every last particle for their victims instead?

Could God really be so unreasonable, could Jesus be so cruel, as to ask me to love baby-killers? And would such a God be moral if He did? Could I pray to a God who loves terrorists? Could I find comfort in Him knowing that He offers them comfort as well? No, such a god would be my enemy. He would abide in Hades rather than heaven. And I would be damned before I would worship him. I will accept an eternity in purgatory rather than a moment of celestial bliss shared with these beasts.

Greg Gilbert responds:
I’ve seen these paragraphs excerpted all over the internet in the last few days, even on some sites done by Christians. And most of those sites are linking to it as if the rabbi’s words here are really useful in thinking through all this, as if he’s nicely threaded the needle on who deserves to be loved and whom we can safely hate. I think that’s wrong. And I think Rabbi Boteach is wrong, both in his prescription and in his understanding of Christian teaching—and even Old Testament teaching.
Read the whole thing.