I have seen more than my fair share of real-life horror. In my younger days, I became acquainted with the depravity humans can inflict upon each other in the commission of crime, the throes of misplaced passion, or just the stupidity of thoughtless action. Such is the fallen condition of our souls.

Sin blinds us to many things, but perhaps most especially to the first truth about who God’s Word says we are.

Earlier this week, I was invited to the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D..C, for a presentation on the October 7 surprise attack launched by Hamas.

The raw footage—filmed by the Hamas terrorists themselves, captured by CCTV, or recorded in real-time by the victims—is in a category of horror all its own. 

Despite the earlier claims from the anti-Semitic left and parroted by academics and media lapdogs, we all know that civilians were attacked on the Jewish Sabbath without provocation simply for being Jewish.

That is not the horror of which I write today.

Several hundred hostages, including children, were taken that day and dragged into Gaza. Many had unspeakable acts done to them, either while alive or to their remains after death. Many are still being held prisoner.

That is not the horror of which I write.

There will be the reflexive “what-about-ism” from those who view Israel’s existence as a horror all its own or are sickened by the nation’s overwhelming response to the attack.

That is not the horror of which I write.

I will leave the moral equivocation and rationalizations to others. For me, the atrocities of October 7 cannot be justified by the past or made retroactively moral by the present. 

With each moment of the presentation, I felt my anger and bile rise in righteous fury. As we watched the depravities play out on the screen, I know many of us in the room could only see those Palestinians as “animals,” beheading corpses and harming children.

Frankly, October 7th should be a reminder of the horrible fact that each of us is infected with the same disease that puts us in danger of becoming that same kind of animal. Each and every one of us.

Just as the Hamas terrorists constantly referred to the Israeli civilians they gunned down at the Nova music festival as “dogs,” we must struggle against the sinful urge to see the terrorists as less than what they are.

The victims were not soulless dogs, but neither were the perpetrators thoughtless animals. The victims had no choice; the perpetrators did. 

That thought should haunt us.

The Bible’s first description of mankind is a moral one, found in Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image.”

This is an inconvenient truth. Whatever else we might want to believe, the most innocent of butchered children and the most depraved of terroristic butchers share this characteristic: both were created in the image of God. 

Sin has distorted that image like a fractured mirror, but the image remains. It is up to us to look for it.

Nations and individuals alike have the right to protect themselves and—yes—to conduct war, exact retribution for offenses, and establish a deterrent against future aggression. Property rights and borders must be defended and even defended aggressively. Israel has that right, so does America, so do you and I. 

But even as we stand ready to do rough and unpleasant things, we must do so with the sad knowledge that our enemy is still an image bearer of God. No matter how righteous or justified our actions might be, that truth must exist alongside it.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all consider the Book of Genesis to be Holy Scripture. While our differences in theology and ideology won’t be reconciled with a return to the first chapter of Genesis, perhaps it can at least inform how we choose to deal with those we consider our enemies.

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