Rejoicing and Grieving Over the Death of Bin Laden

I’m sure most of you were like me and stayed up into the wee hours of Sunday/Monday to watch the media coverage about the death of Osama Bin Laden.  As I watched the coverage, I wasn’t sure what I thought about the celebrations in front of the White House and at Ground Zero in NYC.  One wag on Twitter stated the celebrations “Make us look like a third world country or one with a really good soccer team.”  I was reminded of the images I saw of people in other countries celebrating the tragic events of 9/11.  It seems to me that we need balance in our response to the death of this man.  I have observed the social media feeds and seen many people expressing a very wide range of responses.

We cannot ignore the fact that Bin Laden was a mass murderer who killed thousands upon thousands of people in the evil name of religious abuse.  It is certainly a good thing that he will no longer be able to mastermind atrocities against humanity.  We must also remember the words of Rom. 13:4- “For he [governing authorities] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”  Paul reminds us here that God has ordained government to carry out justice- something for which we should be very thankful.  Justice was certainly done Sunday night when Bin Laden was killed.  As someone said Sunday night, “We should celebrate justice, not death.”

On the other hand, I am concerned with the celebratory response of others to Bin Laden’s death.  One TV personality showed video of the celebrations in the streets and then said something to the effect of, “Is this what we do? We look like those celebrating after 9/11 handing out candy to children?  Are we not better than them?” At first I thought he was about to make a great point that we should rise above the behavior of those who oppose us.  Then he said, “You bet we’re better than them!”  He then brought on a marching band, confetti fell from the ceiling, and he handed out cookies.  Is this a right and biblical response to the death of someone?

Ezek. 33:11 states, “Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’”  God does not rejoice over the death of the wicked.  It is God’s preference that the wicked repent of their sin and turn to Him.  Each of must remember that without Christ, our sin makes us no different than Bin Laden (in a spiritual sense) and as Christians it should burden us that another soul has perished without knowing and loving their Creator.

I drafted a statement in effort to strike a balanced and biblical approach to Bin Laden’s death that I posted on Facebook.  Many have told me it helped them articulate what they were feeling.  The statement is:

I am GRATEFUL the evil caused by OBL is gone (Prov. 11:10- “When the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness”).  I am GRIEVED he has entered hell (Luke 13:5- “But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”).  I am HUMBLED that without Christ, my destination would be the same (John 3:16- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”).

We should be thankful that one horrific source of the scourge of terrorism and religious abuse is no longer among us.  However, Jesus warned us in Luke 13:1-5 that the demise of others is always an opportunity for us to reflect on our own spiritual condition.  Instead of raucous celebration, perhaps we should think on Bin Laden and how we can make sure that evil and murderous thoughts, words, and deeds can be confessed to the Father and removed from our lives.  “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”


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3 Responses to “Rejoicing and Grieving Over the Death of Bin Laden”

  1. Anita Honeycutt Reply May 3, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Your comments echo almost every thought I have had the last two days. When I said them out loud at work, someone looked at me like I had lost my mind. Thanks for validating my feelings.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! Great thoughts!

  3. I like to think that some of the celebration was in honoring our military. For the families that serve…it has been a long war with no end in sight. Father’s have missed seeing their children grow up, we have buried many, and we continue year after year to send them off again. We were civilians for most of our life and until my husband joined the military I never knew the sacrifice..just enjoyed the freedoms the military allow us.

    I totally agree with you that we should not celebrate anyone entering into an eternity of hell. He understands now but it is sadly too late.

    I enjoyed reading your post. I encourage any celebration to not be over a man dying but celebrate in the military accomplishing their mission and over the sacrifice they give daily.