I got the news Osama Bin Ladin had been killed while watching SportsCenter as it flashed across the bottom ticker. Amy and I were thankful. Not really glad that he was dead, but more so that they had found that joker. I would have been just as glad had he been captured and not killed.
The next morning there were a zillion blog posts, facebook comments, and tweets. Jonathon Dodson gives a response to the various responses, cautioning people to digest, listen, and think through the various issues (and I think there really are a multitude of them) first.
Should I feel conviction about feeling some sense of satisfaction about justice, although only partial, being served? I’m not advocating throwing a party, but should I, or should we, only feel sadness at his death? We should probably feel a bit of sadness that someone chose to look at Jesus and say, “You aren’t God, and I will not submit to and trust you.” That doesn’t bode well for him, nor for billions like him. This gospel coalition post shaped and directed some of my thoughts the next day.
But should Christians simply mourn the death of a such an evil person and not thank God for justice? Should the soldiers who killed him in war, not thank God for such a deliverance? Should we not thank God for our soldiers doing their jobs well? I think our world and our emotions are far too complex for a simple answer. But I don’t think we should feel guilty for being thankful.
I’m also thankful for the boldness of people to post their reflections, which go against popular sentiment. My sense of justice, as I suspect with many, can sometimes-or rather often-border on a desire for personal retribution. And I did have to repent from being glad that Osama was now in hell. But I still think there is more to it.
Kevin DeYoung is definitely starting to grow on me. He writes:
In the end, though there are mixed emotions from last night’s announcement, at least one of the attitudes should be thankfulness for the bravery of the men who, with proper authority in a just cause, killed a man who deserved to die. I thought President Obama’s remarks last night struck the right tone. There was a sense of gratitude without gloating. The dominant theme was justice. In our every day lives in this squishy pomo world, we have a hard time with justice. As a nation we feel sorry for people better than we feel joy over justice. But sometimes we need to be reminded that we live in a moral universe where actions have consequences. And when deathly consequences are merited by despicable actions, we should be glad the world is working as God designed.
You can read more here
While I understand that I’m condemned for my sins and only have Jesus to look to, I don’t think it honors Jesus to not admit there could be no difference between your sins, those of your non-believing grandmother, and those of Osama.
De Young writes in a more recent post
Like many popular adages, this one about all sins being equal before God is not entirely wrong. Every sin is a breach of God’s holy law. And whoever fails to keep the law in one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). So any sin committed against an infinite God deserves punishment. We’re all born sinners. We all sin. Every sin deserves death. That’s why the truism is half-true.
But it’s also a lot not true. Over and over the Bible teaches, either explicitly or implicitly, that some sins are worse than others.
You can check out several of his scriptural references. This is a great post on moral equivalence.
Doug Wilson, who I rarely ever agree with, has a solid post, questioning the “well, we’re all sinners and deserve death” mentality, saying it actually hurts your evangelism. You can read more here.
In the end, I think we should have mixed emotions. Not celebrating in the streets, but not simple mourning either, nor self-righteously boasting that you are in the minority for your convictions (not calling out anyone but I do know that we’re prone to works-righteousness). I’m thankful for living within a community, albeit sometimes cyber-community where we can graciously disagree with one another. And I’m thankful for some of the pertinent questions which have been raised, as well as others like this one which has recently popped into my mind: what or how should we pray for when we pray for our enemies, particularly terrorists?