When the Bad Guys Lose

My 4-year-old son, Collin, gets really into movies…  He peeks between his fingers or gets up and hides around the corner during scary parts.   He kicks and karate chops alongside the hero, during spectacular fight scenes. And he furrows his eyebrows in genuine concern when it looks like all hope is lost.  (That is, until he reminds himself what his daddy and I have said many times: “The good guys always win…eventually. Just be patient.”)

We introduced our three “big kids” to the movie Matilda the other day.  Our newborn wasn’t very impressed. But Collin and 7-year-old Cami were deeply impacted by the story of adults treating a little girl so badly.  I mean, really, the entire movie is one shocking display of child abuse after another…until Matilda discovers her powers.

Hopefully I’m not spoiling it for anyone, but by the end of the movie, Matilda has figured out how to undo many of the wrongs that were committed–including returning a doll and chocolates that had been stolen from her beloved teacher.  The climax of the story happens in a moment of poetic justice, when the principal known for throwing children out the window gets tossed out the window herself!

…My Collin literally jumped up on the back of the couch, pumped his fist in the air, and cheered.   “YEAAAAAAAH!!”

The good guys won.  Matilda had owned Miss Trunchbull.

And my little boy celebrated the justice.


Today I read an opinion piece by Daniel Darling, which was brought to my attention by Peter Heck. Both men write to remind Christians that their job on earth isn’t to pound God’s enemies into sand.

I think all serious apologists need to examine their hearts from time to time and make sure their priorities are in order.  As Heck writes:

“…our efforts must be focused around and pointed towards building the Kingdom through the proclamation of truth, not building our own following through the humiliation of another person.”

He’ll get no argument from me on that point.

It’s about God–not about us.

But what concerns me is whether Christians have begun feeling shame over their natural love of justice. 

Are we losing touch with our childlike desire to see the Good Guys win? Is it a problem to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the Truth make a Truth-denier look like an idiot?

See, my goal isn’t to tear down people.   But, when a person stupidly, voluntarily aligns himself with the Father of Lies, then he’s in a position to go down with the ship.

I would love the chance to snatch an enemy from the wreckage before the big explosion and the rolling credits.  If there are any former Bad Guys who are ready to switch allegiance and join the Good Guys, they will be welcomed with tears of joy! (Think of Scrooge or The Grinch.)

But, if an Atheist insists on being Miss Trunchbull, abusing children of God, then Miss Trunchbull is going to get tossed out a window.

…and I’m going to love it.

Can I help loving when the Bad Guys lose?   More importantly:  should I curb that response?

A few years ago, after Osama Bin Laden was found and killed, many American Christians tried to talk their brothers and sisters out of the celebration.  (I wrote “Don’t Stop my Party” in response.)   Essentially, I concluded that it’s very good to feel satisfaction in seeing justice done.

It’s good to be drawn to battles where Truth goes against Falsehood–and to feel that surge of relief and pleasure when Truth (inevitibly) dominates in a total knockout.

Sure, mere humans need to be careful not to take credit for their amazing powers. We didn’t event Truth, so it’s a mistake to feed our egos as if WE are the superheroes…

But we are in a war here.

There are serious injustices and abuses going on.

If you walk into the average church and asked a random attendee to defend a basic belief, he or she probably won’t have an answer ready.  Christians largely are fearful and uncertain, and, what’s more, there are non-believers willingly doing the work of evil who are tossing these fearful children out windows.

It’s looking pretty hopeless in those corners!

That’s why our spirits rise and we want to cheer, when a competent Culture Warrior shows up, clothed in Christ, and absolutely smashes the foolishness.

It reminds us that we have chosen Power and Light and Truth over the poor alternative.

It encourages us to keep fighting the good fight–because truth and justice will prevail, when we’re patient.

I don’t think Darling and Heck would disagree with any of the things I’m saying here. But I’m open to some balance on my persepctive, if anyone wants to debate me.  (And get OWNED!!!)

(Ha. Just kidding.)

Seriously, whenever I read quotes or watch debates involving great theologians, I want to jump up on the back of my couch, pump a fist in the air, and shout “YEAH!!!!”

Is that so wrong?

9 thoughts on “When the Bad Guys Lose

  1. insanitybytes22

    Cool post! I really enjoyed Matilda.

    I wrestle with concepts around justice and honesty. They’re both beautiful things. I’d like to see more of them in the world. It seems to me like we’ve been trapped in this cultural season of chronic injustice and dishonesty. Everybody is supposed to tolerant of everything, surrender to the bullies, and never speak the truth. I call it perpetual moral ambiguity and I think our souls don’t like it very much.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      I agree with your observations.
      There certainly is a time to caution people not to “go to far” with both honesty and justice, if we’re celebrating them for the wrong reasons. (Because, if we don’t practice honesty and justice for the right reasons, we’re not really practicing them at all!)

      But I don’t think our current culture is in danger of going “too far.” In fact, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to celebrate goodness and truth, as far as I can see.

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  2. Dylan Black

    The article by Heck you pointed to was super encouraging. Especially as he quoted Darling:
    “[O]ften we are tempted to make knowingly offensive arguments—not because they are the power of God unto salvation, but because “owning” the other gives us credibility in the eyes of the right peer groups. We dismantle the ideology and wait for the retweets and likes. We post the awesome clip, not to win over our atheist neighbor, but to further ingratiate ourselves to our tribe.”
    I really, really, really, try to about the polarizing tribalistic tendencies when engaging with ideas in blogs. Despite the effort, I still feel that I fail more often than I’d like when I get reactions from people (and/or get banned from the blog).
    So, the OP notes that it’s not a goal to tear down people. I would nuance that by saying it should be a goal to not tear down people. So, instead of celebrating that the truth denier looks like an idiot, celebrate that the lie should be apparent and mourn that the denier can’t/won’t see/acknowledge it.
    Besides that nuance, I think the post is on point. Thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      I’ve seen you in action specifically, Dylan.
      When you receive an angry response (or get banned from a blog entirely) I can say with confidence it is NOT because you did something wrong.

      It’s an example of the Truth-deniers refusing to join the side that is OBVIOUSLY winning, like the goofy storm troopers who keep fighting for the Empire even though they keep getting destroyed by the thousands… Every time one of them goes down in flames, I’m inspired.
      I’m a little baffled by their blindness and stubbornness. But also inspired. 🙂
      Thanks for defending the truth.

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  3. Dylan Black

    I appreciate that, Amanda. Don’t get me wrong – with most people, I feel things go well. There are just some instances that… Well, baffling is the right word. No matter how many benefits of doubt, concessions for sake of argument, or overlooking outright mean behavior… Some people will still demonize you (let alone try to understand you).

    But hey, they are their own moral agents. As long as they know the invitation is always open, it’s on them. Thanks, again!

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  4. Citizen Tom

    Don’t have any disagreements. Just adding what I hope is a little clarity. Vengeance belongs to God. Ultimately, God provides justice. In this life, we strive to protect the innocent and for as much justice as we can manage, but the focus is on protection. Even the punishment we execute on a lawbreaker is about deterrence. Otherwise, we leave the punishment to God.

    When someone hurts someone else, steals, or some such thing, we restrain and even punish the guilty. We want the harm to stop. If we have to kill an especially bad guy and do, our joy should not come from vengeance; it should come from the elimination of a nasty threat.

    Consider the medals our military awards. The highest honors usually go to the guys who risk all to save their buddies. Our military personnel are effective because they care about each other. They strive to kill the enemy efficiently because they don’t want their buddies to get hurt.

    God cares about justice because He loves us.

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