The Islamic State is wicked. It is evil, barbaric, murderous and insidious. It is so wicked that some left-wingers who lean toward pacifism are advocating military strikes to destroy these terrorists who behead and butcher men, women and children, and who rape and pillage and kidnap and destroy.
But it is not just the Islamic State that is wicked. Wickedness is pervasive in the human race. The Islamic State has just brought the wickedness to light.
This is a major revelation to many of us living the West, where in our so-called enlightened societies even the worst of criminals are portrayed as victims and we say that people are “challenged” rather than guilty.
We claim that the man who raped and killed a little girl has a sickness, and we point out that he himself was abused as a child. And so, we argue, he should be punished, but he is certainly not a wicked person.
We claim that the thug who murdered a policeman in cold blood was just expressing an inner rage against the oppressive society in which he was raised, and when confronted, he snapped. But he is certainly not a bad person, and under no circumstances should he be called wicked.
And on and on it goes, with some people even wanting to justify the more “moderate” foreign terrorists, since, it is alleged, they have legitimate grievances against America and we are the ones who started the conflict. (I have heard endless defenses of Hamas in this same vein, as if to say, What else could they do but blow up children and aim rockets at civilians? Just think of how frustrated they must be because of all the bad things Israel has done to them.)
The simple truth is that some people are downright wicked, and one day, God will destroy the wicked out of the earth.
Atheists have often mocked the God of the Bible as cruel, murderous and sadistic, taking particular aim at the God of the Old Testament, of whom atheist Richard Dawkins infamously remarked, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
The truth be told, unless God was incredibly merciful and long-suffering, he would have wiped Dawkins off the earth the moment he uttered those words, if not long before. (In fact, if he were not so merciful and long-suffering, most of would have been toast by now.)
What Dawkins has completely missed is that the God of the Bible was and is a just God, a God who judges wickedness. Consequently, if we don’t grasp the depth of human wickedness, we will not understand God’s justice. But when we do see how depraved and sinful and corrupt human beings can be, we are stunned with the patience of God, not with the wrath of God.
Consider the horrific phenomenon of acid attacks, perhaps numbering as high as several thousand a year worldwide. It is often young men committing these crimes, throwing acid into the face of young women who become monstrously disfigured if they even survive the attack.
They are often blinded; they suffer through years of painful surgeries (if they can even get treatment), and the rest of their lives are all but destroyed. And it is because they refused to marry some guy or did something trivial that upset a family member.
What kind of wickedness is this?
Consider the horrific phenomenon of human trafficking, affecting countless millions of young men and young women, many of them children, who are now being marketed as sex slaves. One website notes, “Of all the children sold into sex trafficking, only 1 percent survive, and the average life span is 7 years.” On a visit to the Philippines, one of my colleagues held in his arms a 3-year-old girl who had been rescued from the sex trade.
What kind of wickedness is this?
And then there are the Kermit Gosnells, who not only slaughter babies in the womb but kill them when they are born alive.
And there are the men in India who rape two young women and then have them hanged because they are no longer virgins.
And there are the burglars who burn a whole family to death when their robbery gets botched, while the reason they were stealing was simply to feed a drug addiction.
And there are the fathers who sexually abuse their own children and the mothers who starve their children to death.
What kind of wickedness is this? And how many millions of volumes would it take to list the atrocities committed over the centuries by our race, from men like Nero who, for amusement, burned Christians as human torches, to mass murderers like Hitler and Pol Pot, none of whom operated without the help and support of many others.
The tragic reality is that there is pervasive wickedness on our planet – often, we find it in our own hearts – and the Islamic State is simply a graphic illustration of how low we human beings can go.
The Scriptures teach that before the flood in Noah’s day, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The Scriptures also teach that when Jesus returns, he will come “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance” on the ungodly and disobedient (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
That means in order to have a biblical worldview and a true sense of justice, we must recognize the depth of human wickedness and work against it, knowing that one day, the wicked will be destroyed.
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