Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Wisdom Of Negotiating With Enemies

(originally posted 2-11-07)

This post has been brewing in my head for exactly one week. Last Sunday I heard a snippet of an excellent sermon on the subject of talking to enemies on the way to Church. I have decided that the time is right to lay out my thoughts on this in response to this snippet from the thread about the Crusades;

"PC Myth: we can negotiate with these people"

First of all let me note that the PC myth (inasmuch as such generalizations are at all useful) on this subject is the exact opposite of what the author is asserting here. This topic of negotiating with enemies is indeed a hot topic that you hear about every day with the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. The word on the street and buzzing on the airwaves is that "we cannot negotiate with these people". The idea that we can or should negotiate with these people is seen as weakness and foolishness and folly. Conversely, the idea that "we cannot negotiate with these people" is in fact the PC ATTITUDE itself! Just reference the outrage directed at the Dixie Chicks or any other person or entity that has suggested otherwise- and then been shouted down as weak, foolish, America hating, terrorist cheering, yellow, egg- sucking "liberals" (worthless label).

The problem with the assertion that "we cannot negotiate with these people" is that that is exactly what we are taught to do throughout the preaching and teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. We are clearly led by them as follows:

Matthew 5:43-44 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

Love for Enemies
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you,


A. Matthew 5:43 Lev. 19:18
B. Matthew 5:44 Some late manuscripts enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you

Romans 12:17-19 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[a]says the Lord.


1. Romans 12:19 Deut. 32:35

Proverbs 16:7 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

7 When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD,
he makes even his enemies live at peace with him

Luke 6:28-29 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.

Now, nowhere in the teachings of Jesus Christ (as in CHRISTAN) are we encouraged to adopt a "destroy them before they destroy us" attitude towards enemies or to write them off as unredeemable. Attempting to negotiate, talk to or find common ground our enemies bespeaks a deep seated inner peace, a spiritual maturity and wisdom that comes straight from Christ himself. We must NEVER be intimidated away from attempting to reach our enemies- either by the enemies themselves or especially by our "allies".
To suggest that attempting to negotiate or keep peace with our enemies is weak, foolish or subversive is an insult to Christ himself as well as his disciples the world over. It is an insult to peacemakers, idealists and wise men through the ages.
So, if this directive to abandon talking to our enemies and "kill them before they kill us" is not from God in Christ or the teachings of the New Testament...where then do you reckon it hails from?

I submit that those who hear the teachings of Christ and yet DO something else are perhaps admirers of Christ but not actual disciples or CHRISTians- doers of his word.

I recently wrote this also in the Crusades thread and it applies here as well:

"In another recent conversation I was challenged on my assertion that the whole "conservative/liberal" debate was pointless in terms of theology.
I had asserted that by the definition they were using Jesus would be considered a liberal- because he stood for other than conquering enemies by force, building empires, engaging in the self sustaining cycle of violence and revenge, the paradox of participating in evil to defeat evil or the "destroy them before they destroy us attitude"... all ideas that "Liberals" are accused of as examples of their weakness and lack of reason by so-called conservatives. They did not get this. So I reminded them that in Bible school if they attended, or else in purely historical terms they were most likely taught that perhaps the greatest reason the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah was that they were expecting a fiery, militaristic, leader- by- the- sword, to come and enforce their rightful rule over the world and to establish justice by force. That is clearly not what they got.
Instead they got a Messiah that preached peace, forgiveness, meekness, humbleness, self sacrifice, the renouncing of materialist values, the love of neighbors and enemies and the freedom from fear of earthly domination and death. So I asked then and ask now- if it was not in Christ's plan then to rule the world by strength and force- what makes it ok to transform his message to one of domination and the rule of the sword now- to attach his name to the cause and call it "conservatism" and associate it with the term Christian (as in followers of Christ)now? Oddly, the conversation went dormant right there.


James 1:19- 27 contains the essence of what I am saying here:

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

All of this thinking brings to mind one more point and question. If the assertion "we cannot negotiate with these people" is true- then why in the wide, wide world of sports are "we" engaged in Iraq and trying to "establish freedom and democracy"? Is this not a logical paradox? Surely we cannot destroy the whole of our enemies in the Middle East, estimated at 300 MILLION out of the 1.2 Billion Muslims, without negotiating, talking to or compromising at all? Think about it. If we were to slay, say 100 million radical Islamics, don't you reckon the other 200 million of them will be actively recruiting from the population of 1.2 BILLION and that the numbers of radicals will more likely increase than decrease? Is this something a few hundred thousand military personnel will be able to accomplish without being eventually over-run by the sheer superior numbers of enemy? I reckon that the Jesus Way is ultimately the wiser approach to this whole dilemma- it saves souls even if it does not preserve our nationalistic "interests".

Thursday, January 24, 2008

All My Tears- Julie Miller

This is by far the best version of the song going around. Its also the best video of it I have seen. Outstanding work Dave.


When I go don't cry for me
In my fathers arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole

Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my savior knows my name

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store
Come and drink and thirst no more

So weep not for me my friend
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to him
Who will raise the dead again

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

When death comes to call on you
Then will He know your name too?