Monday, May 2, 2011

How should I respond to the death of Osama bin Laden?

Let me start out by saying that Facebook, Twitter, and my dinky little blog is no place for political, spiritual, or personal argument.  It's ok to have different thoughts than others but please be respectful.  That being said, I wanted to write a bit about what I've been wrestling with since the news broke last night about the death of Osama bin Laden. 

Undoubtedly in the coming days people will begin to ask, "Where were you when you heard the news?"  I know I can still remember where I was on 9/11, but forgive me if I don't think this news is as significant.  We're of the time in history when news is more frequently found out from Facebook or Twitter, and that's exactly how I found out.  I turned on the news as we laid in bed but I quickly faded, sleepy but coherent enough to feel slightly uneasy. 

When I woke up this morning and turned on the news, I didn't feel elated, I didn't feel compelled to sing our national anthem.  Although I was wondering why the Today show is still talking about the royal wedding...but I digress.  At best, I would describe my emotions as cautiously alert.  I didn't feel excited, hopeful, or even relieved.  Part of me wondered if it was really even him.  I now know that it is, but I couldn't help but doubt for a few moments.

"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the Lord will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him." Proverbs 24:17-18

As I read this scripture this morning I began to feel as if it wasn't my place to feel excitement about this death.  Am I proud of our military?  Absolutely.  Am I hopeful that less people will be hurt in the future due to his death?  For sure.  Am I dancing in the streets?  Not at all. 

I feel thankful that I was born to Christian parents in a free nation.  If I had been born to Muslim parents in a Muslim nation, what would have happened to me?  As a human race, we're not really all that different from each other.  We're capable of so many things, including evil.  And we all need the grace of Christ to save us from ourselves.  Osama bin Laden needed grace just as badly as I did.  If I hadn't received the grace of God, who knows where I'd be.  Probably not a sadistic radical Muslim terrorist, but evil just the same.  So part of me feels sad at the knowledge that he is in hell for eternity.  I can't jump up and down and say, "Thank God that evil man is dead!" and in the same breath pray for my enemies.  It seems weird to me.  I know that Osama made choices in his life that took him far away from a life spent in Christ, and he is now taking full responsibility for the lives he has taken away.  He's not getting off the hook in my mind.  I guess I feel sadness at the waste that became of him.  But he was evil.  Just read some of the accounts of the raid that took his life.  He performed some of the most hanus acts in history.  It's only fitting that his death was announced on the 66th anniversary of Hitler's death.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Matthew 5:23-28

*A great blog to read about today's events and the above scripture is Rev Jason Blanton.  He is much more eloquent than I am.  Thanks Janie, for sharing.

When reading from Matthew this morning I began to realize that I have probably not ever in my whole life prayed for the enemies of the USA.  Perhaps they are not my personal enemy, and because I am so self-absorbed I have never thought about praying for them.  Osama bin Laden had a family.  There's still a chance for them to come to Christ.  I pray that his followers will have a change of heart and be able to safely leave the bondage of their militant groups.  Muslim is an alleged "peaceful religion".  Perhaps they could demonstrate that for us.  My American Muslim friends aren't out trying to blow people up, why can't the ones in the Middle East behave as such?

If my jumbled thoughts haven't turned you away by now, the question I pose is this: what should be the Christian response to this news?  Really, what do you think?  I think as I work through this, my response is two-fold.  First, I don't believe we should be shouting from the rooftops about how excited we are that he died.  I don't know if any of us have the right to speak of justice for 9/11 unless we have a personal relationship to one of the victims.  If I did have a relationship with one of the victims, my opinion would probably be the same as it is now: justice can never be served.  One life for 3,000?  Not equal in my brain. The second part of my response is to caution others about feeling like we're safe now.  Osama was one person.  Many government officials have stated that his leadership has faded in the years since 9/11 and a new core group has emerged.  Also, I worry about how they will retaliate.  From speaking to my brother, a staff sargent in the USAF, he said this event isn't bringing anyone home. 

I heard several people speculate on the news about how this could bring peace and democracy to the Middle East.  First of all, if that does happen, watch out!  Major things are going to be happening and we may need to brush up on Revelations so we can be prepared for the fulfilling of the last prophecies.  More realistically, the death of one person is probably not going to result in peace.  I tweeted earlier, "There has only been one death that resulted in peace and we celebrated that last week [Easter]."  I worry that some may start to feel comfortable and therefore more vulnerable to attack. 

This is pretty choppy and unorganized, I feel, but so are my thoughts.  I wonder, if my baby was born and walking around right now instead of inside me kicking my bladder, what would I say to her about how she should respond to this?  Do I want my children to rejoice in the death of people, even evildoers, or to feel compassionate for the souls of mankind? 

Hmmm...a lot to chew on.  Just wanted to share.  Feel free to jump in on the conversation.

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