In my past life, the only causes worth dying for were one’s faith and one’s country. I remember attending a youth conference where a provocative speaker spent an hour telling heart-wrenching stories about Christian persecution around the world and how many believers go to their deaths because they refuse to give in to those who do not give them religious freedom. These stories had a great impact on me at the time. I once considered going on a bible smuggling mission trip to China so I could help people who had to be underground and hidden in order to practice Christianity.
Martyrdom is revered in Christianity very highly, and it’s not hard to find a believer who will say they would gladly die for the cause of Christ. Willingness to die for one’s beliefs is considered an honorable act by most every religion I can think of. Even secular causes (especially in times of political upheaval) can bring about this drastic act of devotion.
I do not think martyrdom—whether modern or throughout history—proves anything about the claims these people made or the beliefs they held. More death does not equal more truth. I do not think that the more one suffers for those claims, the more glorious and righteous one is.
I still feel angry and sad when I hear stories of persecution and the fight for freedom around the world. I pity those who have governments or religions that would drive people to give up their lives to prove a point.
I wish these sacrifices did not have to be made. To be honest, I’m not sure they always need to be. I’m not trying to disrespect those who have died for the freedoms I now enjoy, but in some cases (especially religious ones), I just feel pity for those who would die for gods and myths that don’t exist. But how can they know any better? They believe, and belief is a powerful force of influence. I wish lives could be saved by religion disappearing from this earth.
Is voluntarily dying for one’s cause the utmost sign of devotion? Wouldn’t more be accomplished if one was alive to continue the fight? What do you think about people who commit suicide to spread a message?
Are there any causes you would die for (religious or secular)?
Do you think military personel killed in the line of duty are considered martyrs? If so, how does your view of military martyrdom differ from your view of religious martyrdom?
Is martyrdom a realistic option in this modern world? Will there always be martyrs?
Check out more history and examination on this topic here.
(Image via The Inspiration Room)