The Death of Osama Bin Laden: A Christian Perspective
There are three moments in history that have defined my generation and changed the world forever. The first is 9/11 and the sucker-punch that literally came flying in from out of nowhere. Years later Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Then just a few days ago, these historic events converged to create yet another: the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.
Since word of Bin Laden’s death hit the newswire, Internet traffic spiked to historic levels. In Philadelphia, Mets and Phillies fans chanted “USA!” during an extra innings baseball game. Meanwhile all across the nation people poured into the streets and celebrated the death of America’s greatest enemy. The enthusiasm continues today with bi-partisan celebrations in government and online conversations about the historic event. In the same way that 9/11 united us with broken hearts; the assassination of Osama Bin Laden has united us again, this time with rejoicing hearts.
This is the proudest, most sickening, and most telling moment of American history that I can recall. It is an extremely bi-polar experience that is painting a frightening picture of humanity. Half of me wants to rejoice and shout in the streets with my fellow countrymen. The other half sees the heart of God breaking as a whole nation celebrates the death of man. The celebrations need to stop.
The Internet is now polluted with sadistic suggestions of what to do with Bin Laden’s body. Meanwhile pictures of his blood stained bedroom are being passed around like badges of honor. Who really are the terrorists here? It took us 10 years to find a man who was living out in the open next to Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point. And although this feels like a great win for a hurting nation, are we really any better for seeking revenge? Does blood really avenge blood? I believe in a God that says no.
Many argue that Bin Laden got what he deserved. My gut reaction is to agree. But if everyone got what they deserved, the world would be a lonely place. When you think of it that way, I’m suddenly thankful I don’t get what I deserve. I’m suddenly thankful that God is forgiving, merciful, and loving – not vengeful. As hard as it is to do, I refuse to celebrate the death of another man, no matter who it is. Even more, I find it hard to rejoice in the fact that a man was just condemned to hell at the hands of my country. That’s not what we are called to do as Christians. Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Even if you’re not a Christian, you can’t ignore the sadistic reality of our celebrations. What kind of example are we setting by taking 10 years to assassinate a man who died thinking he was a martyr? How are we any better if we storm in with a sucker punch of our own and avenge blood with blood? And what does it say about us as a society if the only way we can achieve healing is through the death of another man? All we’ve done is create many more generations of angry terrorists and put more innocent lives in danger, including those in Pakistan who helped us overcome our own failures.
All things considered, I’m not in any way here to denounce the work of the men and women risking their lives for the safety and security of our nation. There is nothing I admire more than the people who sacrifice their freedom so I don’t have to. I will never take that for granted, nor will I ever criticize their work. I’m happy that they achieved their goal – it must have been an incredibly proud and emotional moment. However, I do insist on being critical of a society and even more a church that must be breaking the heart of God by celebrating the condemnation of another man to hell. This is not how we are called to respond. As hard as it is, I refuse to celebrate the death of another man. Even Osama Bin Laden.
Photo Credit: DVIDSHUB (via Flickr)