A Picture of Pashtunwali More Perfect than in The Lone Survivor

We have a Navy Seal in our church. I have to admit though until I read about Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor and Adam Brown in Fearless, I really had no clue what that meant or entailed. Wow! A whole new respect.

After reading Lone Survivor I couldn’t wait for the movie to come out. While it was well done in the sense from what I am told realistically portrays war, I am partial to the book with the extra character development and plot detail.

One of those details that the movie captured, but the book made so much clearer to me was the ancient tradition of Pashtunwali. Once the Pashtun villagers, led by Mohammad Gulab, made the decision to to help, protect and ultimately save Marcus Luttrell by enacting their Pashtunwali code there is no undoing it. It is a covenant not to be broken. Even if it costs them their life.


To this day the villagers’ safety remains at stake for aiding the American soldier. Yet the Pashtun stand unwavered in believing they did the right thing in risking everything.


This is my question… Where is our concept of Pashtunwali?

For believers in Christ, this should not be a foreign concept. It is actually what we are called to in our relationships. But we often don’t view them this way.

Why not?

The short answer: Self!

We are so consumed with self, our schedules and life that we don’t see the needs of others or have the time to invest. It may put us out, cost us something or effect our families. So we do a little bit to get by, to feel good that we helped. Maybe a meal, some money, supplies, clothing. But rarely are we willing to invest ourselves… to get involved with someone who may bring “baggage” with them… to walk the long hard road with someone who is suffering… to be a friend to someone who is hard, challenging, maybe even unloveable. So we cut out and rationalize that someone else will be better equipped.

Do you remember the story of the good Samaritan in the Bible?

The priest and the Levite did not stop to help the dying Jew on the side of the road as you would’ve expected based on their positions and being of the same race. No, they had their own agendas.

Instead it was the Samaritan who stopped to show compassion despite the fact that Jews and Samaritans hated each other. But that deep-seeded hatred didn’t prevent him from going out of his way, altering his schedule, giving his time and money to show kindness and love to a “neighbor”.

This is the story Jesus told when asked, “Who is my neighbor?” to show there is no limit to who our neighbor is. It is everyone we encounter. Everyone He puts in our path.

Jesus also says, the greatest commandment is:

“To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Think about how well we love ourselves… not so hard to do, is it? This is how we are to love others and to glorify Christ!

This is not easy and requires sacrifice. So here again we see our need… a need for a Savior because we fail to love well. The way He requires. The way He loved us.

His love was the ultimate sacrifice of abandoning his royal place at the right-hand of God in heaven to come on a rescue mission for us, who were still his enemies. For us who were not lovely, but whom he cast his loyal love despite us. Pashtunwali, if you will, to the uttermost. May this great love spur me, and all of us, to incarnate him to others.

(This was the second post in my month of highlighting recent movies. If you missed the first one on The Book Thief, click here.)

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4 thoughts on “A Picture of Pashtunwali More Perfect than in The Lone Survivor

  1. Pingback: Depths of Dysfunction – August: Osage County | house of hatton

  2. Pingback: Pharisees to Philamena | house of hatton

  3. Pingback: The Ultimate Injustice: 12 Years A Slave | house of hatton

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