In mid-May, 2004, jihadists executed Nick Berg by sawing off his head. The execution was videotaped and posted on the Web for the world to view. Children were shown the video in classrooms. Teachers were suspended for this indiscretion. The Talk Show circuit was captivated by the issue of showing such violence to children. A police officer called the station and reported that in real life he had seen decapitated bodies and thought he could watch the video with clinical dispassion. In fact, the images disturbed him so deeply that he refused to expose his mind and heart to the violence and cruelty displayed by the executioners.
The perpetrators have positioned themselves as avengers for the indecent exposure of prisoners in the Iraqi Prison camp. Throughout the execution, they submitted their acts as worship to Allah. The Radical/Militant Wahhabi sect of Islam may, in fact, endorse such barbarism. Fortunately, the Quran appears to contain no verses which advocate such violence toward members of another faith or people.
When considered in its entirety, I believe the Bible reflects the fullness of God’s character. I believe the hologram of Christian scripture is a perfect reflection of the mind of God. I believe other religions are false to the extent that they violate or omit elements of Biblical precept, and in those places of omission, addition, or distortion, an element of evil has invaded that religion. But, scriptural perfection does not prevent Christians from misinterpreting the scripture. Thus, while Christianity is True, no man has the right to say with absolute certainty that he speaks for God absolutely, perfectly, and without error. As a Christian Nation, we must each be responsible advocates for our interpretation of scripture. Public policy should be made based on the testimony and debate of many counselors, advocates, priests, and legislators. In the process of generating political, spiritual, social consensus a balanced and righteous legislation should arise.
Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
Every religion probably has some truth in it. And, to the extent that a religion agrees with Christianity, that religion is true. But, the other world religions do not present a full and accurate picture of God. They cannot, because they do not offer the possibility of atonement for sins, which is only available through the appropriation of the blood of Jesus. While such declarations of a “One Way” to Truth may sound chauvinistic, narrow, and exclusive, the fact is, if Jesus’ words were true, then there is no other way to God the Father but through Him. If such a tenant is true, then it would be most wise and compassionate to widely inform the world of the possibility of spiritual renewal and relief.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
With regard to the issue of watching the beheading video, I think it is best to not view such material because it can callous the heart to barbarity. It is good to keep the heart tender. Those who advocate exposure argue that we must be aware of the nature of evil we face; we must know it and feel it, otherwise we risk complacency when action is needed. We each face the challenge of balancing the awareness of evil with being callous to evil. Each heart must monitor its own state and stay wary of falling prey to either error. Proverbs admonishes us that the heart is the most treasured possession, guard it with diligence.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
Putting children in a place where they must endure such exposure without the possibility of turning away is a type of victimization. Once watched, they are subject to those images forever. But, as in every instance of trauma, the child must properly process those images. Unprocessed, the child may be driven to act out the patterns and behaviors, or deal with the pain inside by shutting down his/her feelings on a more global scale.
One way to process a traumatic event, painful memory, or evil imagery is as follows:
Identify and categorize it: Identify the error. What was the message that you took from the trauma? What was the false message? Ask God to reveal the Truth. Understand the actual spiritual significance of the trauma.
These horrific experiences, images, and actions are violations of God’s plan for man.
God allows evil in the world, but He does not require it, plan it, or conduct it.
Evil will happen because of man’s fallen state
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Resist the temptation to act out the imagery.
Images can be models for behavior.
It is necessary to label such behaviors as bad and wrong, evil and unacceptable.
Simply say “no” to dwelling on the images. Distract yourself.
Resist the temptation to shut down to all feelings in an effort to stop the pain from this memory.
The pain can be so great that it feels like the only solution is to not feel anything at all.
Feeling pain is one of the most important gifts God has given us. To cauterize our heart’s ability to feel is to reduce our humanity.
Continue to resist dwelling on the images for the next few days, or weeks.
Simply look away from those disturbing images on the internal screen.
Dwell instead on the good things that God has given us, life, love, and liberty.
Replace bad thoughts with good thoughts.
Remember a memorized scripture and recite it when a bad memory comes up.
Talk to a friend, tell them how you feel.
Let them help bear the burden by simply understanding that you are in pain.
A friend’s job is simply to encourage you to stay strong in resisting.
Their job is to help support you during the time when the memory is being extinguished in the following:
Do not dwell on the images, see them recognize what they are, and then distract yourself from the internal images
Allowing the images to arise, but then release them.
Do not act out these images, they represent temptations to action. Acting out seems like it might reduce the pain, but it will only make the pain worse.
This therapy/philosophy is simply a restatement of scripture:
James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”