How Poor Exegesis Impairs Healing

I planned to blog about a basic overview of moral injury & PTSD; however, this video continually speaks to me and has remained a specter on my life ever since. Here is the article and the video:

The gentlemen take Numbers 32:20-22 and discuss how this passage states that Christians, simply, cannot have PTSD.

Numbers 32 states:

20 Then Moses said to them: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war, 21 and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies from before Him, 22 and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may (the video uses “shall”) return and be blameless before the Lord and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord.

That highlighted portion is where these exegetes focus their attention. Their two points are:

1. You shall return

2. You’re guiltless before the Lord and the nations

Disclaimer up front: I am not saying that one must experience a layer of combat stress or fatigue during a deployment; however I am emphatically saying to those that do return with these wounds this sort of advice is salt in a wound. Moving on…

These gentlemen fail to acknowledge:

1. The power of shame and guilt this sort of theology creates

Practically speaking, can you imagine hearing this as a sort of pastoral care?! Can you imagine coming home from nine months of involvement in a combat zone and hearing that you have nothing to worry about! Whether or not one returns with moral injury or PTSD, I firmly believe that time in combat changes people and that nasty “p” word the gentlemen hate – psychology – supports this. However, after you hear this exegesis from two gentlemen (who have not been to Afghanistan, I presume) telling you that PTSD does.not.exist I cannot imagine the feeling of confusion.

2. The poor reading of scripture on a 21st century context far removed from Numbers

I don’t have much to do here. If you think modern warfare that deals with drone pilot PTSD, multiple deployments, dirty wars, or just the daunting reality of a post 9/11 world at war is comparable to the context of Numbers 32 I don’t know what to say to change your mind. It is an issue of hermeneutics.

3. The poor understanding of PTSD, moral injury, or any psychosocial ramifications of combat

This video fails on every level to acknowledge the psychological aspect of combat. At around 50 seconds he looks into the camera and states, “you get rid of that right now.” Sweet, thanks –  hadn’t thought of that!

I will begin my next post on point number 3 and a better understanding of moral injury, PTSD, and the difference between the two.


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