Our duty right now isn’t just to fight the pagans in courtrooms and voting booths and anyplace else where we can make a difference in civic life. We have a higher calling, that of obedience to God’s will. This obedience allows us to consecrate all that has been desecrated.
Addressing senior SS officers in Poznań on October 4, 1943, Heinrich Himmler was in a cheerful mood. The total extermination of the Jews, he told his minions, was going swimmingly; how unfortunate, though, that Nazism’s biggest triumph must be forever concealed. The mass murder, he said, was “an unwritten and never-to-be-written page of glory in our history,” doomed to be denied and obscured because, well, most people just felt icky when confronted with the sight of naked, starved corpses piled high.
A committed pagan who had his SS erect several memorials to the Germanic tribes and warlords who had fought Christianity throughout the ages, Himmler held the idolator’s primitive belief that to become God, a man must show utter indifference to human life. Smash a child’s skull, and you’ve moved beyond good and evil, to a place of sovereignty reserved only for deities—and demons. But never let the world catch you red-handed, Himmler knew, lest humanity’s irritating insistence on human dignity drive folks to rise up and resist.
I’ve been thinking about Himmler’s dark path to transcendence a lot this past month, especially after viewing many of the atrocities committed on October 7, captured by the Hamas terrorists themselves on their GoPro body cameras. The marauders breached an internationally recognized border to rape women, behead babies, and bind parents to children before burning them alive. These acts would have thrilled Himmler and his men. But Hamas went a step further. They had no patience for the arch-Nazi’s bashfulness. They wanted the world to see their atrocities, in close-up and real time. Because the intolerable desecration of the human body was precisely the point.
At the end of October, Carl R. Trueman reminded the participants of a seminar that followed his Erasmus Lecture that the decades that separate Himmler from Hamas are marked by the effort to sever the ties between personhood and embodiment. A fetus is undeniably embodied but, according to abortion advocates, not yet a person. And transgender ideologues insist that a person may also decide that he was born into the wrong body, and choose to mutilate his body at will, a practice doctors and educators call “gender-affirming care.” These convictions are of a piece. The sexual revolution makes little sense unless you adhere to the potent pagan principle that flesh and self are separable.
Which, if you reject that whole bit about being created in the image of God, is easy enough to believe! After all, what is a human body, if it possesses not a divinely ordained soul but some kind of operating system, one that is entirely earthly? Believe that materialist account of what it means to be human, and the body becomes not a shrine but a battlefield, each mutilation a triumph and a testament to our godlike ability to shape our future as we, and only we, see fit.
The devils who slaughtered more than 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped more than 240 were merely taking this logic to its conclusion. They’re neither nihilists nor serious believers in Islam, a religion that, even in its more rigid forms, does not recognize such atrocities as acceptable. They are, simply and terrifyingly, pagans, fighting the very same war described so lucidly in Leviticus, the war against God and those who believe in his mercy.