Is Revenge Sweet?

I watched Braveheart during Memorial Day. On that epic movie, Mel Gibson kills the smug English general who had killed his love, in the exact same manner that the general had killed her. Basically, he tied him to the tree and slit his throat. (Ouch!)

Also on Braveheart, the English had a rule in which English soldiers and nobles could sleep with any Scottish woman they wanted–on her wedding night to a fellow Scotsman. That was really throwing their power around, wasn’t it? Well, one of the Scots whose wife was a victim of this got to kill the soldier who slept with his wife.

And you know what? I felt a sense of satisfaction when Mel Gibson and the Scotsman got their revenge.

And I don’t want to hear any sanctimonious criticisms of that. I’m sure I’m not alone, here. That’s why movies and TV shows exist in which the good guy kills the bad guy. Don’t you enjoy the times on Walker, Texas Ranger in which Walker kicks the bad guys in the face? In the words of one of my relatives, “Walker doesn’t bear the foot in vain” (a reference to Romans 13:4).

In a Bible study that I once attended, a Christian said that his sister was such a sensitive Christian, so sensitive that she cries whenever someone is hurt on a TV show or movie. He may have even mentioned the Three Stooges, if memory serves me correctly. Most in the group were impressed by her profound spirituality, but my reaction (in my mind) was, “Oh, come on! Give me a break! How self-righteous can you be?”

I watched the final episode of Roots last night, and Tom the blacksmith was about to whip the white racist Klansman who had recently scarred his back. But he dropped his whip at the last minute. He refused to do it. He was better than the Klansman! I was disappointed. To be honest, I would have enjoyed seeing the Klansman get his whoopin! Sure, I liked seeing him squirm and sweat, but hearing the cracks and the cries would have pleased me more.

Is this good or bad? Is it a love for revenge or justice? I can understand why some would disapprove of my attitude, since showing mercy demonstrates concern even for the bad guy. Perhaps it can give him something to think about and help him change his ways. But, on the other hand, he can easily look down with contempt on the person who shows him mercy. On one hand, he can learn that what he did was wrong when someone refuses to do the same thing to him. But, on the other hand, he can also learn that lesson by truly experiencing the pain that such actions cause–by having those actions inflicted upon him.

Dilemmas, dilemmas!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Is Revenge Sweet?

  1. Bryan L says:

    Good thoughts. I think we all feel satisfaction when it comes to seeing peopleget what they deserve and I think it is good to desire justice. But the thing that always gets me when I think about this topic is that I don’t want to get what I deserve. I don’t feel the saem satisfaction when it comes to me being on the wrong end of justice. It’s a weird feeling. BTW this reminds em of my post about Cinderella and my audio of Gordon Fee on that post : )
    http://bryansthoughts.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/cinderella-and-justice/

    Bryan

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  2. James Pate says:

    That was a good post, Bryan. I think one impediment to my Christian walk is that I don’t really feel I deserve a great deal of punishment. I just don’t. I don’t know how to generate that guilt, but it seems to be a necessary part of Christianity. I have to feel happy that God has forgiven me and have a low view on myself for me to cut others some slack.

    BTW, I would have put some stuff in boldface, but I didn’t want to highlight any psychotic parts. 😉

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