Response to a Terrorist’s Death

Rarely does my first open of the newspaper in the morning produce such surprising news as this morning when the headline announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. This had been so long in coming and so often frustrated that I never imagined anything ever happening.

My initial surprise then bled over into reflections upon what the proper response to this should be, particularly among Christians.

I find that I cannot be a fan of death in any of its forms. Death is in this world as a judgment, a curse; the Bible teaches that death is an enemy. I am appalled at the aberration of human thinking that leads to the murder of 3000 innocent men, women, and children simply going to work ten years ago. I’m appalled at the twisted thinking that leads those trained to save life to determine that that unborn child is not life and qualifies for termination. Death is the enemy of what it means to be human.

And yet, death is an enemy which in this world has to be mustered to our use. It is in this broken world the currency of justice, and a weapon given to those who rule for the cause of peace.

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he 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.” (Romans 13:3, 4)

I have said before that because of the possibility of misusing this weapon that the government should take great care in, if not abandon, its use. But it is a just weapon which has its place and I would be loathe to suggest that the government had anything less than a calling to find this man and bring justice to him.

But somehow I find the celebrations to be unseemly. Death is death. No matter how evil is the one who has received justice, death is still an awful thing in a broken world.

Several Twitter posts helped bring this to a sense of perspective for me.

Author and critic Jeffrey Overstreet rightly challenges the sentiment which may underly our celebrations:

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him. (Proverbs 24:17-18)

Challenging words for those who honor the God in whose book they reside. Death should not be the catalyst for a party, should it?

And yet, there is a desire to celebrate. Musician Derek Webb pinpoints the proper context for that celebration in his short post:

dont celebrate death, celebrate justice

In celebrating justice we celebrate an attribute of God which his kingdom brings in increasing measure. Justice is something to cheer, albeit inwardly. And our celebration ought to be focused upon the God in whose hand is justice.

Finally, I was encouraged as well by the thoughts of minor league pitcher Dirk Hayhurst (aka @TheGarfoose):

While I understand the God Bless America sentiment, how about God Bless every nation terrorism has caused senseless pain and suffering?

Such encourages us to subdue the nationalism and recognize that an enemy of something greater than our country has been brought to justice. And this is good.


8 thoughts on “Response to a Terrorist’s Death

  1. thanks, Randy, for posting this. These are good things to remember, as I myself found my heart ripped with mixed emotions this morning, as the clamor on both sides tried to make sense of this. grace & peace to you…

      1. we should chat sometime. we have many a mutual friend down there at CPC. I think we are friends on facebook…. drop me a note and perhaps we can talk in a medium that even Mike Sacasas would agree constitutes “talking”.

  2. Mike

    P.S. I hope you don’t mind, but I shared a link to this blog today on my Facebook wall. I hope everyone who sees it will read it. Take care, my friend. Again, thank you.

  3. Diego

    Thanks Randy for such a well written post. In spite of the death of Bin Laden, my thoughts focused on the woman that was used as a human shield. She too died in the raid, even though people were not celebrating that, it was also a part which receives a passing note of the whole event. Her death got bulldozed over his death. It is things like that and others that make this whole thing very unpalatable to me. Yes I do feel better that justice was done, but I see no reason to “celebrate” in it. We are still at war, our men and women are still out there and I hope and pray that they are brought home as soon as possible.

Comments are closed.