Killing Justice: What Should be the Christian’s Reaction to the Death of Osama Bin Laden?



Image via Reuters

I was sitting in a jet black recliner, sinking into the comfort and checking the Facebook app on my iPhone for any interesting updates. Not expecting to find anything of historic significance, I came across a comment on one of my friend’s status updates mentioning that President Obama was going to make a statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden.


I was stunned for a moment and reached for the television remote to turn on the news. I sat and watched as the news anchors and then our President confirmed that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I can’t really tell you what I felt about the whole thing at first. More than anything emotive, the whole situation was surreal, not unlike the time when I sat in front of the television in my 12th grade english class watching the World Trade Center collapse to the ground. As my mind began to wrap itself around the fact that U.S. troops had stormed a compound, killed the most dangerous terrorist in the world, and collected his body for proof, the first emotion that I could distinguish was excitement. I was excited that the man who was responsible for an attack on American soil was finally found and killed after ten long years of war. I was excited that the founder of Al Qaeda would no longer be able to feed more extremist violence into the world. But, is this the right response to the death of Bin Laden?

As I read through more social network commentary on the announcement, there seemed to be some pause regarding this issue. While some Christians were openly rejoicing in this news, others seemed to dissent. I was reminded by some that central to the Christian worldview is the fallen state of man. Bin Laden did horrible things, but we are no better off in comparison to God, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are all culpable and deserve death and judgment just the same as Bin Laden received. It is only by grace that we are saved from that judgement.

Furthermore, we are told in Ezekiel 33:11 that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wants those who are wicked to turn from evil. Solomon also tells us in the Proverbs, “Don’t gloat when your enemy falls, and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles, or the LORD will see, be displeased, and turn His wrath away from him” (24:17-18). With these verses now fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but question the motives behind the excitement and happiness that I felt for Bin Laden’s death. It seemed pretty clear that God did not take pleasure in the death of this man, but isn’t this what I was doing? If I rejoice in the downfall of our enemies, does this displease God? Will God turn against us if we celebrate the death of an evil man? What is the Christian response to all of this?

Well, I can’t give you the official Christian response to the death of Osama Bin Laden, but I can at least give you one perspective on this event. After trying to take some time to really consider this issue, I think this has a lot more to do with the object of our emotions rather than the emotions themselves. I believe that there is a duality of proper emotions in this situation that can’t be escaped. We should rejoice in this situation and we should feel sorrow as well.

I believe that we should be genuinely happy with this news because of the fact that, in the words or our President, “… justice has been done.” There have been an incredible number of wrongs committed by Bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda extremists. Our hearts cry out for justice and we want these wrongs to be corrected. We look to God in this situation and we see in Him a perfect Justice: “The Rock—His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true” (Deut. 32:4). God embodies perfect justice and we should rejoice in that justice. We should love God’s justice in the same respect that He does.

At the same time, we should be filled with sorrow that Bin Laden has come to this end. It should pain us to see a fellow image-bearer of God be pulled into a life of murder and hate. It’s important for us to not forget that we are not fundamentally different from those in our crosshairs. As Derek Webb put it, “My enemies are men like me.” We should not rejoice in the fact that our competition has lost. We should not rejoice in the fact that our enemies have been killed.

When we take a look back at ourselves, its important for us to question the reason why we are happy. Are we truly happy because God has brought justice to the earth, or are we just happy that Bin Laden got his? It’s easy to rejoice and be happy when we are on the winning team, but how would our response change if we were on the receiving end? I haven’t known many to rejoice when judgement is being brought down upon them. It seems that we remember to rejoice in God’s justice when it is directed at “them,” but when that justice gets turned on us then we only remember the sorrow of our own downfall. If we are only happy because our enemies have fallen, then we don’t really care if that was an act of justice or not, we just care that we are better off. If we must kill, then that killing should be done in accordance with justice and not against it. We should rejoice when God brings justice to the earth, but we should also remember the bloody road that brought us here and the steep cost of bringing about that justice.

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  • I really appreciate the Scripture you brought here. I was sad to see the way some of my friends were rejoicing on Facebook. While I too am glad that justice has been served, I can’t forget the fact that someone in all likelihood never came to know the one true God. And, not to turn this into a political discussion, but I honestly don’t believe his death is going to do much good for the war on terrorism. In fact, it may create a surge in terror attacks. I’m praying for the troops, that God would protect them, give them peace, and bless them for their sacrifices to protect our nation.

  • Tim

    God destroyed many people as you all know, and should we feel sad about that, NO! And if you kill my cat , I will kill your dog! I’m just saying! :)

  • The mob-mentality that is bull-horning its way across Facebook is the part that is getting under my skin because it does make me wonder if that was the scene once Jesus breathed his last breath. Yes, we understand the sorrow of those who loved Him because we still feel that sorrow. Yet, what did the others do who screamed for His death? Did they go around singing, “Ding, dong the witch is dead” the way some of us are now with Bin Laden? That bothers me along with the “See, we’re America and we can do anything because we’re America!” is also quite irritating. While, we can probably conclude that this is God’s justice, we will never know for sure and it is not our place to make this decision. I only saw one post on Facebook that actually reflected Christian love for others and not just for ourselves and the person asked that we continue our prayers for those in the Middle East and, I believe, we should continue praying for our military who is there, will eventually be there, and all the families who are still hurting from 9/11.

  • Blasphemy!!! Everyone knows that a dog is worth more than your cat.

  • Tim

    You are wrong, very wrong, and you are a Christian? Thank you for the wrong answer!

  • Tim

    How do I delete my account from this?

  • Tim

    And comments!

  • Dvdwstphns
    Probably a better perspective that puts context into the scriptures that were given in this article. A verse must be used in context and not to prove what you want to prove. Just sayin’

  • I believe that your attempt at elucidation of the context of these verses is not completely accurate to the text, but we are ultimately saying the same thing here. We should rejoice in God’s justice being brought down on Bin Laden, but we should not be rejoicing in this man’s death. It is a heart of Justice, not Vengeance that we should seek.

  • A clean and nice blog and well written. But Eric did a great job as well. May people get the truth from hundreds of places but all from the same source—the Holy Spirit and the scripture which he inspired.

  • Tim

    Hey Eric, please accept my apology for my comments that I made when I mentioned about my cat and you dog! God Bless and you guys are doing a great job here! Thanks again, Tim

  • Tim

    your dog that is.

  • No apology necessary. Your point was valid. I hope you didn’t take my sarcastic response to heart. Thanks so much for reading and contributing to the discussion.

  • Tim

    Thanks Eric, and no problem my friend! God Bless, Tim

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