Written by Mary Elizabeth Palshan (Tyler)
January 18, 2012
We’ve all read the reports of the Marines who were involved in the scandal of urinating on the dead corpses of the Afghan soldiers. It is the current fodder from a war-torn part of our world that is under the iron grip of a false religion and a false god. The attempt by the Taliban is to cut a swath (make a pretentious display of) and put not only our men in uniform, but also our nation as a whole in a bad light. Not to say that it didn’t happen, or that it is befitting behavior coming from our soldiers. We, as Americans, do hold to a moral code of conduct, and we should do everything possible to uphold these standards.
However, war is ugly, brutal, and subject to unpredictability’s. Holding to a standard of ethics is difficult when you see your comrades bodies treated like cadavers made ready for the slaughterhouse. The beheadings of American soldiers and journalists by this evil group of godless men, causes us to rally around our boys, who love our flag and maintain our freedoms with their young, precious lives. We come to their aid and defense, in spite of their alleged crimes. It is, after all, a thing called patriotism. But then war itself has its many incalculable, fundamental, and inherent problems; how do we in fact justify killing anyone, or urinating on dead men, or stomach and forgive those men who beheaded our own people? It is far too mind-boggling for even the most ardent theologians, philosophers, and politicians to wrap their minds around. When war takes a turn from a clean kill, to one of brutal butchery from an evil heart that enjoys killing for the sick thrill of it, we know we are in for the long haul of trying to explain evil and all its manifestations and aberrations.
If we intend to keep things simple, in an age of notable complexities, the old adage is worth repeating here, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” This can provide some moorings to which one can be directed by. But platitudes quickly get lost in the blood, sweat, guts and gun smoke of real flesh-to-flesh battle; and young men can, and do, loose their compass. So to blame our Marines for their offense is a hard sell we Americans are not willing to buy. Sadly, though, there are simply no quaint or enchanting war stories of complete innocence on either side of the fence to be passed around the picnic tables. Or discussed at fire-side-chats at camp Grenada, where frivolities and mirth keep us giddy, dazed and safe from harm. War does not make for pleasant conversation anywhere. So our men of war, regrettably, brood all alone, like the few lost and lingering souls who survived the horrors of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The average non-military person cannot understand and comprehend the extreme depths of evil that lurks in the hearts of men. Even eye witnesses loath to give it description.
The American idiom, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows," was coined by Walter B. Gibson for the famed radio program known as the Shadow. At the close of each episode, the Shadow would remind its listeners, “"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay.... The Shadow knows!" As prophetic and full of wisdom as these two phrases may well be, and as perceptive as the Shadow was, we know that the author took his cues directly from a panoramic view of our corrupt world. Not that I pay homage to the author of the Shadow; but the Shadow was a predictable “light,” ironically. Casting not a shadow, but a light, into the dark recesses of all mankinds disturbed misdeeds. But the Shadow pales in comparison to a greater light that is capable of a much deeper penetration, into the long and winding caverns of our wicked hearts. We all know that the human heart (but for the grace of God) is capable of much evil. There but for the grace of God go all of us.
That illumination and light is the Word of God. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12).” God knows what lies in the shadows and secret chambers of our hearts. “They (we) have all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Psa 14:3).”
Hard truths are often hard to swallow. No one wants to admit we could be far worse than what we are, or as bad as God describes in such pointed detail. Our very minds bristle at such a thought; most love their autonomy and their (lite) form of sin. God is referring not just to the evil butchers in this world, here, but also to all men who have fallen since Adam. “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way (Isa 53:6).” We have all trampled the holiness and purity of God underfoot. And unless we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will pay the hefty price for our rebellion against a Holy and just God, who desires that all men come to the knowledge of His Son to be saved.
We are only who we are because of God’s grace. If God so chooses, He can make an evil tax collector into an honest citizen; a murderer like the Apostle Paul, into one who weeps sincerely over the fate of the lost sheep of Israel; a coward like Abraham, into a saint, whose progeny God promised to multiply like the glittering stars of the heavens, and a Christ denier like Peter, who denied the Lord three times, into a faithful servant.
The converse to this is God’s ability to raise up evil men like Pharoah, so that by comparison, He can put His glory on display for the entire world to witness. Evil has its purpose in this dark, sin-infested world. To make God’s holiness shine in all its resplendent glory. The evil deeds of men will condemn those who choose to brandish their form of wickedness and butchery over and above God’s righteousness. But be not deceived, God is not mocked, what we sow, we will also reap. “..For it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Rom 12:19).”
If God lifted His powerful hand and decided not to restrain most all evil, this world would spiral out of control, and debauchery and malfeasance of every manifestation and stripe would consume all of us. We owe every breath and blessing to our Creator, whether we acknowledge Him as such, or not.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? That should be a no brainer! God knows. He says this is His Word: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings (Jer 17:9-10).”
But the GOOD NEWS IS: “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is **NIGH** unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that FEAR him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will He destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his Holy name for ever and ever (Psa 145:17-21).”
One day soon, the Beatific Vision will appear before us, and we “Shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2).” “So that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phl 2:10-11).”