Monday, May 02, 2011

On Bin Laden's Death

As an American, I went to bed happy last night after learning of the death of Osama Bin Laden, a man capable of great evil, and one who had brought much suffering into the world.  Yet I felt a tinge of guilt at the jubilation I and others were feeling, and have spent much of the past 18 hours wondering about what an appropriate Christian response to Bin Laden’s death should be.  How should those of us who attempt to follow the man from Galilee, who teaches us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors, handle the death of an enemy who has been responsible for so much evil in the world?  Should we rally and jump for joy, or should we be more subdued and ponder the deeper mysteries of life and death?   I think the latter is more appropriate.

In the Book of Proverbs, we’re advised not to gloat over the demise of our enemies.  Such behavior is not pleasing to our God (Proverbs 24:17-18).  King David had an opportunity to gloat over the death of his enemy, King Saul, whose death opened the way for David to assume the throne.  But David grieved for Saul and his sons (2 Samuel 1).  Death should always remind us of our humanity.  Although God has created us with remarkable abilities, we are not God, and once life is gone we cannot restore it.  At the time of death, we should be humbled.  Bin Laden was obviously endowed by his Creator with great talents which could have been used in ways to have alleviated suffering in the world.  Instead of using his talents in such a manner, Bin Laden used his talents to build a network of hate and evil.  We should grieve over a life wasted and which caused such much pain.   But we should also remember that Bin Laden, although an evil man, is not the author of evil.  Just because he is dead doesn’t mean that the world is going to all of a sudden become a harmonious place.  Evil is still present.  We all will still face temptations and, until this age ends, we will still have to deal with evil people.  And although few of us are capable of the evil of a man like Bin Laden, none of us are completely sinless. 

At a time such as this, we should humble ourselves before God and one another, confessing our own sins and the sins of the human race.   We should thank God for those who were brave enough to carry out this mission, but we should not celebrate over their accomplishment.  Instead, we should continue to pray, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer, for God’s will to be done and God’s kingdom to come.  And finally, we should challenge evil, not just with the sword, but with acts of charity and kindness, demonstrating grace.

   –Sage

16 comments:

  1. Well said! And necessarily said for those of us who do follow Christ and Christian teachings which over and over calls us to love and forgive, as we are loved and forgiven. I'm glad that Bin Laden is gone, but saddened that he gave his mind and talents, and forever lost his soul, to such acts of evil. Gloating over this man's death has no place in our ongoing reaction.

    Again…great, great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, it is well said, and I agree. But as you may know, it is very hard not to be gleeful when someone as evil as Osama Bin Laden is no longer able to cause trouble. Now, we just have to worry about his followers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I felt a little odd about all the jubilation too. I vote for the latter too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm writing from Nashville, TN and just came across this after searching for various Christian responses to the news of Bin Laden's death. I think this is spot on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post! We all need to be reminded that gloating over another person's loss of life no matter how evil that person may have been is not be taken lightly. He like the rest of us was made in the image of God no matter how far he or we may stray from it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The law has to do the right thing to protect the people and the land, without any intent of vengeance. He violated the law of peace and heightened the degree of fear in many. That which has to happen must happen, for the law of righteousness is to protect the weak. Some shut themselves from love by veiling themselves with misconstrued ideology. Nice write. May his soul rest in peace. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Sage - I've wrestled with this all day and felt oddly out of sync with everyone else. I thank you for these comforting words.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Have a thought for the guys that had to do this work.
    But if ever you needed to know the difference between the two monotheistic religions. You here have it in a nutshell with this internal conflict of hating his evil deeds but not the man himself.
    There would be no such dualism from the him.
    Having said that, I very much doubt the actual religious inputs are as definitive as we are lead to believe. I think there are far more from the cultural, historic and physical landscape.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I find this to be one of the most apt of responses i have come across thus far Sage.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was so angry over the gloating by some Islamics after the 911 attacks that I can't see myself doing that kind of public display now, even over Bin Laden. In this case, I don't really feel any jubiliation, but I certainly don't mourn the murderer's passing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have been sickened by the celebrations I've seen and heard over this. In my heart all I can feel is a sadness....for our hearts and where they lie. Revenge shouldn't be ours.
    Now what's next.....there will always be one more bad guy to catch. It won't end.
    Thanks for this post. Appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think that relief is fair enough.. and caution.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Standing O my friend. Written as only sage can write!

    J

    ReplyDelete
  14. I totally agree, Sage! I am thankful.

    ReplyDelete