I have been doing a lot of wrestling today over the events of the last 24 hours or so; the killing of Osama bin Laden. My wrestling will continue but I wanted to write down what I have been mulling over so far.
Throughout today I have been keeping an eye on Facebook and Twitter to see what others have been saying. I have also watched some news reports and read a few articles. As I reflect on everything I have seen and read I find myself dealing with a tension.
First off…I am proud of our military and of their sacrifice. Those men and women have made great sacrifices in the war on terror and in their hunt for bin Laden. There is a part of me that is glad that this terrorist is gone. There was a part of me that felt relief last night when I heard the official word of his death. Will the world be a safer place…I doubt it. But has justice been served…Yes. So this part of me is happy and glad.
But now here’s the tension…
…as a Christian how are we to respond to the death of an individual who was created by God. That’s right…Osama bin Laden was created by God…it’s hard to believe sometimes but he was. So the question is this: Is it a proper Christian response to cheer, celebrate and party over the death of a human life…no matter how evil we may think they are? That is what I am struggling with…and the struggle feels even worse considering that it is bin Laden; a man responsible for the deaths of thousands of people and for changing our lives forever. But another problem I am having is if it is alright to cheer this person’s death where do we draw the line? It seems to be a slippery slope and one I am not willing to approach.
Another theological issue arose this morning for me. I received a phone call from a parishioner who asked me if Osama is in hell. I know what they wanted to here but I was forced to respond with a very difficult phrase: “I don’t know…only God knows“. This person wanted me to do better so we talked about the fact that we are not God and that God is the only true judge. We also discussed that it is a dangerous business to get into; trying to determine who is going to hell and who isn’t. “Do not judge lest ye be judged“. (Matthew 7:1)
So where I am at now is the fact that I live in two different worlds. I am a citizen of the United States of America and a citizen of the Kingdom of God. These worlds are in tension with one another but it is a tension we need to learn to live with and respond to. Maybe the challenge for all Christians is to follow what Jesus commanded us to do…pray for our enemies. That can be a tall order sometimes.
I am not going to mourn bin Laden’s death but I am going to try to refrain from celebrating it. So in the mean time the wrestling match is going to continue…and maybe that is a good thing.
How are you responding to Osama bin Laden’s death?