Sarah Palin, Waterboarding, and the (Mis)appropriation of Language

For those of you who live under a rock… Former Vice Presidential Candidate and Tea Party poster girl, Sarah Palin recently addressed a weekend event for the National Rifle Association. She began with the typical red meat feeding frenzy designed to whip her crowd into a frenzy.

What she said next would be funny, if it weren’t so sinful and offensive.

In implicit response to President Obama’s approach to handling an encroaching Vladimir Putin she says:

[Liberals] are not right, policies that poke our allies in the eye, and coddle our adversaries, instead of putting the fear of God in our enemies.

After commenting on how the current policies are not sufficient to obtain tactical and strategic information from our enemies she comments saying:

If I were in charge *long pause and applause* they would know that water-boarding is how we baptize terrorists. *thunderous applause*

Now, without getting into too much analysis of what she said, why baptism is something that can casually be thrown around *cough… memorialism… cough* lets think about this for a second.

Conservatives get up in arms when Liberals take the words of Christ (e.g Judge not lest you be judged, whatever you did for the least of these, love your neighbor as themselves) out of context and make them mean something that they do not… Palin proved here that Conservatives are just as able to do the same. Immediately after saying that we should be instilling the “fear of God” into our enemies, thereby implying that America is somehow a chosen nation and God’s special instrument… hint: it isn’t, she goes on to utter something that is so utterly sacrilegious that it makes genuine Christians of both Conservative and Liberal stripes rend their garments. Certainly this is worthy of God’s judgement. But… if my people, who are called by my name… nevermind.

Baptism is fundamentally a means of grace, in which we participate in the life giving death and resurrection of our Savior. It is not some term to be casually thrown around and co-opted for our own gain. However, it is not Palin alone who is guilty of this. How often do we co-opt biblical concepts and terms for our own use? Perhaps it is not as naive as adopting God’s promise of a plan and future made to Jeremiah, or as innocent as saying that God works the good for all of those who love him to a grieving mother. But it just as much a distortion and abuse of the language and concepts that God has given us in Scripture.

We must be ever cautious that we are faithfully speaking God’s words the way he intended them to be spoken. We must never allow God, the Church, or the faith handed down once for all as our personal mascot. The nation of Judah attempted to do that when they treated the Temple of the Lord the same way a child treats the front steps like home base in a neighborhood game of tag… Babylon soon after swept in and carted them off to exile. The Philistines attempted to do this when they paraded the Ark of the Covenant around as though it were some kind of neutral weapon with power to be harnessed. The toppled statue of Dagon and a round of tumors showed them that God is not some local deity that can be bent to the will of human corruption. There was a time when Conservative Christians rallied behind Palin as an example to be followed of a faithful Christian operating in politics. Christians now ought to be praying that she would be brought to genuine repentance before God demonstrates what happens to those who domesticate the Christian faith and blaspheme the object of that Faith.