Following the recent Senate report relative to the CIA’s activities on torture, it appears that many feel that torture is ‘not what America stands for, it’s not who we are.’
Just what is torture? Let’s look at several definitions. Webster states that ‘torture’ is synonymous with torment. It means to inflict intense pain for various reasons including to punish or to coerce.
Definitions offered by the Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) are nearly the same as follows.
“…‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him…information or confession, punishing him for an act he…has committed…or for any reason…when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a pubic official or other person acting in an official capacity.”
Several key points can be summarized as follows:
· Torture is severe pain intentionally inflicted by another
· The purpose may be to obtain information, to punish, or for any reason
· Torture can only be done with the consent of one acting in an official capacity
Now let’s examine the Biblical definitions and application of torture, or torment.
Similar to the English meaning of torture/torment the Greek as found in the Bile also means to inflict/afflict with pain or cause to suffer for varied purposes including punishing, or forcing one to divulge the truth.
Followers of Christ were/are being tortured as punishment for their faith.
“…others were tortured, not accepting deliverance…Still others had…scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two…” Hebrews 11:35-37
Tortured in the above is synonymous with scourging. And remember Pilate had Jesus scourged.
“So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged (tortured) Him.” John 19:1
Hades or hell is the place of torment for the self righteous between physical death and their subsequent bodily resurrection preparing them to stand before the great White Throne judgment.
Jesus explained hell’s torment to His disciples.
“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate…So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:19-23
The rich man was of the world and lived his earthly life to the fullest with little or no concern for the beggar at his gate who desired only to be fed with the crumbs from the rich man’s table.
When the two died, the rich man found himself in hell and the beggar went to paradise. When the rich man realized the torment of hell he asked to be relieved of his pain, but was rejected.
“Then he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’” Luke 16:24
The rich man was told that while he was living on earth he had access to God’s standard of justice and plan of redemption but rejected it.
“But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’” Luke 16:25
Then the rich man was told that it was impossible for him to get to Lazarus or for Lazarus to get to him. At the time of physical death, one’s destination has been settled forever.
Then the rich man asked Abraham to warn his brothers about hell, but was told that his brothers also had access to God’s justice and redemptive plan through the prophets and written word.
“…I (wisdom) have called and you refused; I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded.” Proverbs 1:24
To be continued.
After two decades of teaching Statistics and Economics at ORU and NSU Walt now teaches Bible at FBC Claremore and the Claremore Veteran’s Center.