Mercy Isn't Always "Merciful"
One of the remarkable things about the Baptist family is the wide range of viewpoints and perspectives it is able to encompass. Oh, to be sure, there are Fundamentalists who think only their sort are right and will be in heaven. And there are some who are so close to Unitarianism as to boggle the imagination. But aside from those fringe aberrations, the Baptist family is wide and deep.
Take, for instance, Michael Westmoreland-White's posting of a few days ago (just beneath this present offering). He urges mercy for Hussein and I am about to suggest that Hussein is neither deserving of mercy nor should he receive it. In fact, I will suggest that Michael and others who wish to spare Saddam's life are offering him anything but mercy.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant while in power. He killed countless persons at a whim and the United States government helped him do it for a decade or more. His brutality was boundless and for that reason alone he is not deserving of mercy.
Before you say "who is?" may I suggest that there are degrees of wickedness in the world- some which should be extended mercy and some which should not. A child in K-Mart stealing a piece of gum is not the same sort of sinner as a child molester who brutalizes his victims, sexually destroys them, and then murders them. There are, in other words, levels of wickedness. Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein belong to the upper echelons of depravity whilst Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart occupy the middle (and should be extended mercy and forgiveness).
Further, and perhaps more to the point, Hussein's greatest, most severe punishment would not be death- but a life of confinement. Death, in his case, would be the most merciful disposition of his case. A quick and violent end would be "the easy way out" for a man who tortured his victims slowly and gleefully. Prison, on the other hand, would destroy him, robbing him of both his dignity and humanity. Prison, in his case, would be the least merciful act.
Do Michael and others urging mercy realize the effects of prison on persons who have wielded excessive power? I wonder. And submit, for your consideration, the simple thought that mercy isn't always merciful. Mercy doesn't always spare life. Sometimes it takes life. "There is a time to heal and a time to kill." It's time to extend mercy of an authentic sort to Hussein and kill him.