In the aftermath of tragedy, Christians called to be different Print
Friday, 26 April 2013 08:28

Where does one begin to comment on events as horrific as those at the Boston marathon and the days that followed? These events have captured the nation’s attention as few have in our times.



Millions of words have already been written, untold hours of televised commentary offered. Yet none of it can fully explain the rationale behind the horror of what unfolded in our living rooms in recent days.


We could add one line of thinking that seemed largely missing in the aftermath of the events in Boston and environs. Surely those who were killed or maimed in the bombing at the marathon deserve our sympathy and prayers. Sympathy and prayers for the families of those lost – and the families of the wounded survivors who must cope with this tragedy for the rest of their lives – likewise cannot be in doubt.


But lost in all of this national introspection is the question of how to respond as Christians to the parents and extended family of the two bombers. They too deserve our sympathy and prayers. They too have lost sons and relatives; they too have had their lives turned upside down and must additionally face the pain and destruction to others that their sons and family members have caused. Some among us will welcome this further extending of sympathy and prayers; some will not. But a greater challenge than that lies with us now. The bombers themselves deserve our prayers and forgiveness for the tragic manner in which they listened to the wrong voices. They made terrible decisions that have impacted so many. Their young lives have been wasted in the pursuit of a twisted ideology which preaches hate instead of love. This too is a “crime” of sorts. Those who taught them to hate have much to answer for on the day of judgment.


No matter how heinous the actions of these brothers – and they were indeed heinous in the extreme – as Christians we believe that every human life has value. That these men committed terrible acts is beyond dispute; indeed, one has already paid the ultimate price for his decisions. But our Faith clearly demands that we not embrace the kind of vigilante quest for vengeance sought by numerous callers to various talk radio formats in recent days; our Faith demands that we reject the very “eye-for-an-eye” retribution that the bombers themselves embraced when they chose to inflict death and destruction at random.


If as Christians we say we are a people who value life at every stage, then there is only one stance for us to take as the trial of the captured bomber begins at some point in the future: We must reject the fevered call to kill this man in the name of the state because he took the lives of others; we must instead argue for inflicting the bitter but wholly justifiable medicine of a lifetime in prison with no possibility of parole – a “death sentence” of its own.


Taking such a stand at this very moment of heightened tensions and raw emotions makes a clear counter-cultural statement. It makes people realize that, as followers of Christ, we Christians stand for life even when it is – perhaps especially when it is – widely unpopular to do so.  As Christians, we are called to forgive as Jesus forgave, to walk in the footsteps of the One who unequivocally forgave those who so cruelly took his innocent life. Can we do it?


— Lou Jacquet/Editor