Are you the executioner?

Posted: 2013 02 05 by Paul S in Biblical manhood

 

I’m reading God on the Streets of Gotham by Paul Asay. In it, a concept is discussed about submission and the source of morals. This section got me thinking. Asay mentions the scene in Batman Begins when Bruce Wayne rejects Raz al Ghul’s order to execute the farmer turned murderer as a demonstration of the concept. If morals are a creation of man, and the League of Shadows is the ultimate authority of these morals, why should Bruce not execute the man? A little back story, Raz al Ghul leads the League of Shadows, a mysterious group that is focused on making the world good through their actions, they have a no mercy sense of justice that is “above the law.” This group found and “rescued” Bruce from his wandering vagabond lifestyle and trained him with the skills we see him with as Batman.

“I’m no executioner”

This stirs up a lot of mixed thoughts in my head. Having grown up only nominally Christian (or as I often say “culturally Christian”) I didn’t have a clear picture of where the so called morals of the world came from, and I lived a life that showed that. I broke some laws if I wouldn’t get caught (Smoking and drinking underage, speeding, etc.) broke some commandments (sex outside of marriage, lying, idols) and pretty much set my own morals. So what stopped me from breaking bigger laws, from living even more for myself? What caused the shift from an aimless teenager who had no real direction to soldier fighting for his nation to Christ follower?

Let’s look back to Bruce Wayne, the League of Shadows, and the world around them. As any fan knows, the DC universe has been rewritten man times, so it’s hard to paint a clear picture of the world. However, looking at the most recent iterations, we could reasonably assume that God does not exist or is regulated to a minor role in this fictional world. If this is the case, defining where morals come from is very difficult. If we rely on science to tell us the origin of everything, than we have to ask why any mercy would exist. In a science based moral system, it is most beneficial to a person or group of people to eliminate any antagonist to the welfare of that person or people. In this kind of world, Bruce Wayne would have no reason to spare the man’s life. No reason to say those words, “I’m no executioner.” But he did.

In saying those words Bruce Wayne admits to an authority above Raz al Ghul, above the League of Shadows, and above himself. Let me you show how. I’m going to paint a few pictures here.

  1. Bruce views the League of Shadows as the ultimate authority on morality. They say to kill the man as punishment. So Bruce kills the man.
  2. Bruce views Raz al Ghul (or his agent, Ducard) as the ultimate authority on morality. He says kill the man. Bruce kills the man.
  3. Bruce views himself as authority on morality (or center of morality). He is told to kill the man “For [his] own sake” by Ducard. Bruce kills the man to protect his own life.

     

    Or

     

  4. Bruce recognizes something else as source of morality. He is told to kill the man. He rejects this order, submitting to the higher authority that tells him he should have mercy and not execute the man.

 

This is one of those situations that should get anyone, believer or not, to contemplate. Do we believe that we are the center of the universe or do we believe that there is something higher that directs how we should act? Notice I said should, not would. We still have the choice to follow that direction or to reject it and do what suits us best (or what we think does). So now for the hard thought, are you the executioner, or are you willing to refuse, and take your life in your own hands because of a belief that goes beyond you? Bruce Wayne did in Batman Begins. David did when he cut Saul’s cloak rather than killing him. Countless others have when faced with following God or following man.

I challenge you to take the 4th option. Submit to God as authority of how you should act and work to follow Jesus in all your actions.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

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