Every Day in the United States, air travelers are subjected to “enhanced security” procedures performed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Security procedures have increased from the metal detectors that were once a staple prior to the 2001 September 11th attacks. Now, travelers have to take off their shoes, remove babies from strollers, dump their drinks, and undergo more invasive procedures, if they get picked for enhanced security measures. These enhanced security measures give travelers a choice: pose for virtual pornography, or be patted down (and potentially groped) along the body, including the genital area. The spirit of the law written down in the Christian Bible condemns both of these actions. The Bible tells of individuals who had to face similar circumstances to what American citizens face today: participate in sinful activities or be punished. At another point in time, the nation of Israel had to choose between compromising its beliefs and compromising security. We could learn from both instances.
The Bible doesn’t specifically address machines that can see through clothes, but it does talk about nakedness 43 times. It speaks specifically about covering yourself with clothing to cover nakedness in Exodus 28:42 and Hosea 2:9. Women are told to wear modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9). God also covered up Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden so that they would not be naked after they ate from the forbidden fruit. Clearly, God wants us to be covered up. While one purpose of clothing is to protect a person from the elements, the other purpose is to hide our bodies from the view of those we are not married to. The backscatter machines used by TSA disregard this principal of God.
The other choice that the TSA presents to us is not really any more moral: in some cases, government agents are actually putting their hands down travelers’ pants. TSA agents are supposed to feel for bombs or weapons, even over the genital areas. The Bible commands plainly in Exodus 20:14 that “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” You could justify the pat-down procedure by believing that it is technically not adultery, but Jesus’s command against adultery went even further than Moses’s version. He said in Matthew 5:28 “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Perhaps nobody is thinking lustful thoughts in these cases, but if we go by the principal of what the Bible is trying to teach us, and not the letter of what the Bible is saying, these security procedures are not moral. Do we really think that the Puritans would have been okay with this?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Choose Not to Sin
In the book of Daniel, three boys have to face a tough decision: sin or be thrown into a fiery furnace. In Daniel 3, the king of Babylon (where the Jews were living) built a large golden statue and ordered all of his government officials to bow down to the statue when some music was played. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were Jews that had been chosen to work for the king, and were subject to the king’s decree. Rather than compromise on their beliefs, they chose not to bow down to the king’s idol, even though they would be thrown into a fiery furnace for disobeying the king’s command. When they were thrown into the fiery furnace, God protected them. Instead of dying in the flames, they survived. They didn’t even smell like smoke (Daniel 3:27).
It would have been very easy for them to bow down to the king’s idol. There were probably other Jews in Babylon that had to face the same decision. Perhaps they tried to convince the boys to follow the rules and bow. They may have said something like “I’m not comfortable with bowing down to this idol, but it’s not that big of a deal. God knows that I’m not really worshipping this stupid statue,” just like many Americans today believe that the backscatter machines are no big deal, and think that these machines are important to prevent terrorism (even though more people drown in bathtubs than die by the hands of terrorists).
A Country Must Not Sacrifice Principals for Security
Many people believe that these enhanced security procedures are necessary to protect the people of the United States. They are afraid that terrorists will be able to attack us if the government does not protect us with these immoral procedures. The Bible is clear that it is not okay to do something wrong, even for the sake of national security.
In ancient Israel, the Israelites felt threatened by Assyria. The Israelites feared that the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, was about to attack. God had specifically told the nation to consult with him when they were having trouble. Rather than listen to what the Lord had to say, Israel chose to make an alliance with Egypt. In Isaiah 30:1, God sends a message to his people: “Woe to the rebellious children,” he says, for trusting in Egypt and not in him. At the time, Israel was split into two countries, Israel and Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel did not listen to the Lord, and ended up being carted away by Assyria in II Kings 17. The southern kingdom of Judah did listen to the Lord. Judah was miraculously saved by the Lord in II Kings 18-19.
The United States
There are many people in the United States that are not Christians, but that doesn’t mean that Christians should not follow the principles of the Bible. The Lord can protect countries that follow him, even from terrorists, but if a country does not follow his principals by forcing air travelers to participate in immorality as a condition of flying, we cannot expect his protection.
Atkins, Karla. “Should Children Fly? TSA Puts Hands Down Pants”. Examiner.com, 17 November 2010.