American Culture

Forget torture. Who would Jesus rape?

On the rapes of Majid Khan and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Pop quiz!

Fill in the blank: rape is morally acceptable when __________.

Time. Pencils down.

I don’t know about you, but there was never a point in my life when I needed to be told that there is no such thing as a good answer to this question. But let’s define our terms, shall we? In January 2012, the FBI finally updated its definition of rape:

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” [emphasis added]

Furthermore, the Department of Justice clarified:

For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men.  It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape.  This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity. [emphasis added]

Now lets talk about rectal feeding. Per Wikipedia:

A nutrient enema, also known as feeding per rectum, rectal alimentation, or rectal feeding, is an enema administered with the intent of providing nutrition when normal eating is not possible. Although this treatment is ancient, dating back at least to Galen and a common technique in 19th century medicine,[1] nutrient enemas have been superseded in modern medical care by tube feeding and intravenous feeding.

A variety of different mixes have been used for nutrient enemas throughout history. A paper published in Nature in 1926 stated that because the rectum and lower digestive tract lack digestive enzymes, it is likely that only the end-products of normal digestion such as sugars, amino acids, salt and alcohol, will be absorbed.[2]

As one might note from the footnotes linked in the Wikipedia entry, the first reference is to a 1943 work and the second is from 1926. Is it a current practice? As reported by The Washington Post, Dr. Burke, an ER physician who teaches at Harvard Medical School says, “For all practical purposes, it’s never used.”


“No one in the United States is hydrating anybody through their rectum. Nobody is feeding anybody through their rectum. . . . That’s not a normal practice.”

The last time it was in common use was World War I. Prior to that, it was a 19th and 18th C. practice with roots back to antiquity. It seems that only in the most incredibly uncommon cases might it be medically indicated:

More recently it has been used only in dire circumstances, such as in the treatment of a 21-year-old man who was discovered by trekkers to be suffering from shock in the mountains of Nepal, according to a 2005 paper.

As long as other options are available, rectal feeding is not medically indicated.

Further, as noted by research going all the way back to 1926 above, “only the end-products of normal digestion such as sugars, amino acids, salt and alcohol, will be absorbed.”  Ergo, inserting a gruel of pureed hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins in the rectum, as was the case with Majid Khan, was by no means medically indicated.

The rectal feeding revealed in the Senate’s executive summary was never even about providing nutrients to the captives under the care of the CIA. Water perhaps, but not nutrients. As noted by Dr. Burke, “It doesn’t make any sense.”

What about consent? According to The Washington Post:

The report said Khan was subjected to “involuntary rectal feeding and rectal rehydration,” which included two bottles of Ensure. Later that day, his “lunch tray,” consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins, was pureed and “rectally infused.”

So let’s see. The tube which conveys the non-medically indicated non-sustaining substance is an object. The object penetrates the anus. The penetration is without consent. The victim’s gender, male in this case, is a moot point, as is that of the perpetrators.  By any stretch of the imagination, this method of torture matches, point for point, the FBI’s redefinition of rape. Unfortunately, even were jurisdictional issues to be resolved, the problem with holding the torturers to account is that the FBI re-definition only applies to the reporting of rape, not for the criminal prosecution of it, as the various statutes criminalizing rape still vary widely. The odds of securing convictions against these so-called patriots, or, shall we say, rapists is about nil.

Sadly, part of the reason for this lack of justice to be had on behalf of the victims as well as the American people is that the will to adequately define rape statutorily and pursue charges against agents of official government rape is not only lacking, but is opposed by people who don’t just make monstrous apologies for the practice, but garishly and ghoulishly do so wrapped in warped sanctimony. Warped sanctimony? I don’t go far enough. At least one of these rape apologists does so in such a way as to constitute outright blasphemy.

“Strong words,” one might say. Yes. In the rich tapestry of Christian heterodoxy in America there exists at least one thread which one might think real and true Christians who hew to the letter and spirit of the Gospel Jesus would want pulled lest his foul perversions of scripture continue to taint the sacred pools of faith. One such thread is Bryan Fischer. Courtesy of Right Wing Watch, we learn of Bryan Fischer’s latest in his perpetual string of obscenities against the sacred: Fischer: Jesus Would Support The Use Of Torture.

If it weren’t for my immediate revulsion for his blasphemy, and if it weren’t so tragic that this diabolist’s words actually speak to the sick and deceived consciences of those who heed his words, I would almost be amused at his nearly comedic failings at Scripture.

Now here is the problem I have with the way that the Left is approaching this. We know that war is a nasty business. But the Bible, it’s important to understand, is not an anti-war document. Christianity is not a pacifist religion. In fact, if you go to Exodus 15:3, you will find that the Lord there is described as a “man of war.” That’s Yahweh, the god that we served is described in Exodus 15 as a “man of war.” Now we often think of gentle Jesus, meek and mild, but let’s not forget according to Romans 19: 15, when he comes back, or 19:13, when Christ comes back, he will be riding a white horse and wearing his own robe “dipped in blood.” That is a robe that is worn by a warrior who is inflicting casualties on the foe. So this is Jesus, gentle Jesus, meek and mild, and when he comes back his robe is going to be dipped in blood because he, too, is a warrior. 

I’m not approaching this as a Leftist. I’m approaching this as a reader of Scripture who uses his “Creator-endowed” reason to understand what I see and hear. I see in the New Testament many depictions of Jesus, none of whom endorse torture. Quite the contrary, I see a Jesus who, when asked about the most important commandment, gave us a two-fer. Love God first, your neighbor second.

Matthew 22:37-40

37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’c 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’d 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NASB)

It can’t be any plainer. If you get these two right, it’s impossible to run afoul of the law. So it strikes me as more than a little peculiar when someone seeking to establish what Jesus would endorse immediately skips the patently obvious and reverts back to the Old Testament.  But let’s indulge him a moment, as it will come round full circle in his erroneous reference to Romans. Fischer quotes Exodus 15:3. Let’s take 15:1-10 to see what’s being said.

Exodus 15:1-10

15 Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, [a]and said,

[b]I will sing to the Lord, for He [c]is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
[d]The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will extol Him.
“The Lord is a warrior;
[e]The Lord is His name.
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
And the choicest of his officers are [f]drowned in the [g]Red Sea.
“The deeps cover them;
They went down into the depths like a stone.
“Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
“And in the greatness of Your [h]excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You;
You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.
“At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,
The flowing waters stood up like a heap;
The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.
“The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil;
My [i]desire shall be [j]gratified against them;
I will draw out my sword, my hand will [k]destroy them.’
10 “You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the [l]mighty waters.

Is the god of the Old Testament a warlike god? I don’t know anyone who is familiar with the Old Testament who would dispute the notion. Time and again, G-d either slays entire populations, has angels do so, or commands armies to do so. But it takes a strenuous, even perverse, effort of Trinitarianism to so mysteriously identify the Father, the Son, and the Spirit such that justifications from the Son appear to come from the God of Abraham rather than of his own mouth. Moreover, look at the context of Exodus 15:1-10. Certainly G-d is extolled as a warrior. For that matter, G-d is given sole credit for each and every death of the pursuing Egyptian army. Not a one occurred at the hands of his chosen people. G-d, therefore, while exhibiting his own might, endorses nothing of the kind where his people are concerned. If one wants to torture Scripture to fulfill some devious intention meant to subvert the words of the salvific Jesus in the Gospels, sure there were better examples to draw from. One might almost think Fischer could perhaps spend more time with his Bible and less with the taste of blasphemy in his mouth.

I also find his Freudian slip quite telling here. It may be indicative of nothing, or perhaps a couple of things. “That’s Yahweh, the god that we served.” We, as in the body of the church, meaning what? That now we follow Christ where once we followed Yahweh? Or we as in the circles of power and influence in which he moves who served, past tense, but perhaps no longer do? Or is this cigar just a cigar?

Then another peculiar thing happens. As he skims and perhaps misreads from his prepared notes, he references Romans, chapter 19. Romans has 16 chapters. I recalled the tone of the description he misattributes to Romans as being far more appropriate to Revelation and was not disappointed. The verse he means to cite is Revelation 19:13. Perhaps this was just an innocent slip of the tongue, some glare on the paper, who knows, but one might think that for someone whose mission is to expound on Scripture for political influence (as evidenced in his reference to an oppositional “Left”), he might be familiar enough with Scripture to have caught the glaring error and amended it lest he leave his listeners and adherents in a lurch. So it falls to the astute listener to refer appropriately to Revelation 19.

Revelation 19:11-21

The Coming of Christ

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will [d]rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the [e]wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17 Then I saw [f]an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of[g]commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Doom of the Beast and False Prophet

20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs [h]in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with [i]brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Whatever Fischer’s approach to the interpretation of Revelation, a work only susceptible to interpretation of symbol, perhaps discernible through prayer, his inconsistencies and even his accidental consistencies put the lie to his understanding. His accidental consistency, as I see it, is that yet again G-d, this time in the person of apocalyptic Jesus, does all of the killing with no blood staining any but the fallen. His inconsistency comes of the rendering of symbol in the pursuit of agenda. Jesus, you see, we are told by Fischer, returns on a white horse, wearing robes dipped in blood. With reference only to his own perverse extra-biblical handwavium, he concludes that it is a robe worn by a warrior. Note, however, that the armies of Heaven that ride with him wear robes of “fine linen, white and clean.” Only his are dipped in blood. But the battle has not yet been joined! Is it not far more likely that the blood is his own, spilled for salvation? Further, having assailed our reason with a literalist presentation of the symbol, Fischer fails to drive the point all the way home because…why, exactly? Did he not want to make the case that the Jesus of Apocalypse has a literal sword for a tongue with which he lays about at a vast population of what, billions of wretched, slaying each and every one? Perhaps not, and it would be horribly inconvenient to draw attention to his own failure at symbolism to make a case that runs afoul of that simplest of edicts, as noted above, the Gospel Two-fer.

Fischer would have us believe that Jesus condones torture. Let that sink in. In the course of obeying the two great, all-subsuming commandments of loving G-d and loving our neighbors, we’re to believe that we can love our neighbor Majid Khan, whatever his sins, and our neighbor Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whatever his sins, by, in at least the case of so-called “rectal feeding,” humiliating them with nakedness and, without consent, inserting objects into their anuses for the infusion of substances that serve no medical purpose.

Yes, I am outraged. Honestly, in spite of the word count here, most of my outrage is not at Bryan Fischer. In my more generous moments, I do not believe he knows what he does. In his corrupted and sinful heart, he may even mean to do good, as though, counter to the teachings of Gospel Jesus, a divided house would not fall, and that one may serve good through diabolical means. I am outraged at our torturers. I am outraged at our government. I am outraged at our President, who has shown no inclination to hold accountable those who “tortured some folks.” I am outraged at our electorate, who has shown no collective will to end this abomination. But mostly my outrage is for the clergy of all faiths who, becoming aware of Fischer’s satanically inspired blasphemies say nothing, do nothing, as though the sanctity of loving God and loving one’s neighbors as commanded are commandments not worth heeding and that those who are led astray may as well be led with no attempt to bring them back.

There are days when I feel kinship with Saul, not knowing his Road to Damascus moment yet waits, the Jewish persecutor of Christians, who, late to the game, immediately starts…persecuting the Christians who were doing it before him by writing letter after letter telling them how very wrong they are. Most days I would far prefer the path of Jesus, meek and mild, extolling the virtues of love and grace. Then there’s times like this when all I have energy for is a jeremiad.


Image credit: Ian Scott @ Licensed under Creative Commons.