Culture

May 02 2011
171

I was sitting in front of our upstairs TV, firmly squished against the shoulder of my husband while my son pranced around in a onesie. We were watching The Incredibles for the 87th time. During a lull in the movie, I grabbed my all-too handy iPhone and checked Twitter for a quick moment, where CNN alerted me that the President was going to give a speech at 10:30pm EST. This seemed strange, so late at night. I did some digging… it turned out that it was a speech on a matter of national security.

And in case you were wondering, breaking news does not stop the need for consistency in a toddler’s routine, so we made our way to the bathroom and got the little guy in the tub. While he splashed and played, I sat on the counter with my husband and I filled him in on what was happening.

Within the next ten minutes, a multitude of news agencies began releasing statements, all claiming the same shocking news:

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to say. Or think. Or do. I simply said it out loud to my husband. “Osama Bin Laden is dead.” Words I wasn’t sure would ever come out of my mouth in my lifetime, to be honest. We both stood quietly shocked. We waited for President Obama to come to the podium for the next few minutes, but it stood empty on my phone’s small screen.

While my boy came out of the bath and got dried off, Twitter and Facebook lit up, blew up and sped so quickly, I couldn’t keep up. Everyone was sharing the news and it didn’t take long for everyone to share their opinions and feelings on the matter… which was expected. We all lost so much on September 11, 2001… so much changed.

And then, I saw a tweet from a woman who I know follows Jesus, who simply stated “I’M SO HAPPY THAT BASTARD IS DEAD!”

That’s when I paused, my heart pumped fast and strong. My skin got the familiar tingle of unease.

Osama Bin Laden orchestrated unspeakable acts of violence, terror and death. He was an enemy of the state, an enemy of peace, and a man who sold out to a misconstrued theology of the teachings of the Holy Quran.

He was also a human that was created by God. The same God that created me. You. My little boy getting dried off with the towel that has a hood that looks like a shark. Whether you agree or not, I believe Osama Bin Laden had a soul. And I believe that soul did not believe in Jesus Christ and now I believe that soul is eternally separated from the loving, sovereign God that I worship.

After my son was warmly clothed in fleece footie pajamas and resting in the arms of my husband reading his bedtime stories, I made my way downstairs to the computer. The President’s podium was till empty, but my Twitter and Facebook feeds were quite full. Almost entirely of celebratory remarks, proclaiming happiness for his death, for justice being served.

My heart felt heavy. My heart still feels heavy.

What, as believers and followers of Christ, should be our posture when something like this happens?

A few verses come to mind.

 

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Proverbs 11:10

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. Proverbs 21:15

 

But then I read these:


Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?  Ezekiel 18:23

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:38-39


So, what is proper? What is appropriate? What is our response? Do we rejoice in the perish of wicked?

I believe that God delights in true, righteous justice. As Christians, is the finality of death a kind of justice that we should celebrate? Thousands died at the hand of Osama Bin Laden. Is an eye for an eye the correct response? Does that please God?

Does death at the hand of another human rob the opportunity for redemption?

Was Osama Bin Laden beyond redemption? Is that even our decision to make?

All of these questions should form our response as believers and followers of Jesus Christ.

 

I have my opinions, but I have my convictions, too.

I believe we should have a posture, ultimately, of prayer. May our faces be pushed downward into the floor, laid prostrate out before a most Holy and sovereign God.

I believe we should have a posture of humility, with the understanding that there is only one true Judge who offers fair and sovereign judgment, and we are not Him.

I believe we should have a posture of nonviolence. Period.

 

I don’t know about you, but moments like these force this prayer from my lips:   Lord, hasten the day.

 

171 comments

  1. You captured it well, this tension we live in. God is just, and God is merciful.

    Whispering grateful prayers to a God who sustains all…even amidst the tension. He desired that NONE should perish, but ultimately He is the author of all justice.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Kati. Beautifully said.

      Reply
    • Sarah

      Read the highlighted blue section below.

      Reply
  2. At first, I just didn’t believe it was true. Then the President addressed the nation. My young boys were all over the victory. I could only look at them and say, “How sad that this is a reality. Yes, something needed to be done. Bin Laden needed to be stopped. But Jesus died for that man just as he died for me. For you. Even though he has the blood of thousands on his hands, Jesus would have died for him if he were the only one on the planet. His love is that great. How sad He must feel to be eternally separated from one He died for who had much sin to pardon. How sad that Bin Laden never knew the One True God.”

    Reply
    • Nish

      “Jesus died for that man just as he died for me.”

      That’s it. Right there.

      Reply
  3. Nish, this article sums up my feelings exactly when I saw all the tweets, comments and Facebook statuses of jubilation towards Osama Bin Laden’s death. I immediately thought, ‘Am I really the only one who thinks Osama Bin Laden’s death is not right? Vengeance belongs only to the Lord. There’s no way we can justify his death. They had no right to kill him. There’s blood on someone’s hands today….’

    Thank you so much for shedding light on how we as lovers of God must respond towards this.

    I honestly believe that God’s heart is broken today. He still loved Osama Bin Laden, no matter what he did…

    Reply
    • I completely agree that we should not rejoice over the death of a lost soul. God sent Jesus for every person…even OBL. Yet, we cannot say that “They had no right to kill him.” That is simply not true. The justice is STILL God’s, as only He can determine where a soul will spend eternity. However, the US Military killed him because he refused to surrender and they had no other option. The alternative to fighting this terrorist network is to stand by and allow for senseless deaths to continue.

      Romans 13:4-5 “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

      Reply
      • Totally agree with you, Kati.

        “There’s blood on someone’s hands today…” Yes, and thanks to our men and women in uniform, who are willing (however awful it is) to have blood on their hands, the world is now safe from that one man, as well as countless others throughout history.

        Reply
        • Nish

          Would Jesus agree that blood on hands is ever the answer? I can’t say that He would, unequivocally.

          Reply
          • Is Jesus not God? The same God, who spoke the words in Deut. 19:11-13? What about in Ecclesiastes 3…”a time to kill”?

          • Nish

            He is absolutely one and the same. But did He die for us to only kill more? It is a sin to murder. Is it not?

          • Premeditated murder out of anger, revenge or hate, yes. Killing for self-protection, or in this case, protection of our country and the world, I can’t say for sure.

      • Nish

        There is always an option. Always. The glory of free will that we were blessed with by God. (Another theological argument that I’m not going to get into here.)

        Like you said, I believe that justice is still God’s. It’s always His and only his. When we all meet him for the first time, we will be judged accordingly and by His sovereignty.

        However, I don’t think it’s EVER our responsibility to arrange that meeting.

        I understand and respect what you’re saying and I don’t want this to sound like I’m ungrateful for the bravery of our men and women who serve in the military. But I cannot expect the military to carry out values of the Kingdom when they are being directed by leaders of the Empire.

        Reply
        • Osama’s death was not “murder,” ie. the unjustified taking of a life that is forbidden by Scripture. Osama’s death was not an act of personal revenge–it was justice meted out by the US military on behalf of the millions whom Osama terrorized. Osama was, as our President noted, a mass murderer. In light of that, I think we can say that the US military acted as an agent of justice–and that does qualify as the kind of punishment referred to in Romans 13:4. Certainly we ought not exult or engage in gleeful, unseemly, disgraceful celebration. Certainly a Christian ought not take PLEASURE in the death of Osama. But we can be grateful for the end of a reign of terror.

          I, for one, am deeply grateful to the US military AND to my own family member who served multiple tours of duty. The sacrifice was not in vain (and I would say this even if Osama had just been captured, and not killed).

          Reply
          • Nish

            I’m grateful too, EE, for the members of our armed forces. I hope my post didn’t come across as ungrateful for their bravery and service. And I am burdened and mourning the lives lost from war these last ten years.

            In regards to Romans 13:4, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. :) I feel unease about the idea of granting some forms of killing as okay, while others are not. That’s a slippery slope I’m not sure I want to travel. At least, not right now.

            Shane Claiborne said something in one of his books that absolutely resonated with me and, along with a lot of study in Scripture, has helped form my convictions about war, death, and justice. He said “There are some things to die for, but none to kill for.” When I look at the life of Christ, what He preached and the sacrifice He made, I just can’t align my convictions on your side of the coin.

            Love you, friend.

          • Well said, Elizabeth. We should not pleasure in the death of any man, but we are certainly permitted to feel relief in the fact that this particularly evil man has been stopped. How many times in the Old Testament did God COMMAND His people to go to war against those who oppressed them? And how many times did He COMMAND them to leave no survivors, take no prisoners? This situation was no different – our soldiers, our faithful uniformed heroes did exactly what was necessary to protect the American people and the rest of the world from Bin Laden’s ungodly reign of terror. However sad it may be that he is most likely in Hell today, the fact still remains – he made that choice. He chose to spit in the face of the One True God and swore vengeance on all those who believe in God. Our soldiers may have done what was necessary to end his life here on earth, but no one other than Bin Laden himself can be held responsible for his eternal fate.

          • Thank you so much for your discussion here Nish, I appreciate everyone’s point of view. It is hard to be dogmatic with such an event. I do not think that being glad OBL is dead and feeling the Father’s heartbeat over a lost life, one that most likely is separated from God for eternity, need to be mutually exclusive. I believe we can feel both and both are right. I do not condone however, the celebratory glee that others are partaking in; I cannot bring myself to it. However, I feel that justice has been served. Jesus reflected this same thinking about Judas; it had to be done to fulfill the Scripture- but woe to that man. (my paraphrase).

            I do think that Old Testament Scripture does hail support for this mission. The mission was not just to kill OBL, they did prepare to try to capture him first and a firefight ensued in which he was killed.

            I have seen the comments about Jesus commanding us not to kill and that is true. When God brought the Ten Commandments including “do not kill”, He immediately sent them into battle in which they were commanded to wipe out entire people, men, women, and children. That is because He has a moral law for people to live by on an individual level. When God commanded them to kill those nations, He did it to purge and redeem the land from unthinkable evil committed by these nations. The Bibles says He had to redeem the land. This is not different. The Israelites RESPONSE is the model for us. The Israelites however responded by giving sacrifices to God, not gloating over the deaths that came from obeying God. Many of the battles they fought, they were not to keep the spoils, they belonged to Him.

            Many times in the OT Justice was served through God’s people taking lives, not out of vengeful hate, but out of obedience to God, and in fulfillment of His will. There is a big difference between taking someone’s life for your own purposes- vengeful hate, and obeying God. I am not contending that killing OBL was in fulfillment of Gods command, but I do not rule it out either. God is about redeeming all creation, not just people, and He does still purge the earth of evil.
            God Bless
            Piper

          • Thank you for pointing out the difference between an individual taking another individual’s life and the sanctioning of military authorities for the punishment for evil.

          • Eric Malone

            Elizabeth, Vicki, et al. who cite Romans 13,
            Are the 900,000+ civilian deaths in Iraq/Afghanistan also a reflection of the authority from God that is vested in the USA? How do you know when God is acting within the actions of a government or not? How do we know that the 9/11 attacks themselves weren’t an agent of God? Do you realize that more innocent people have been killed by the US military than all terrorist acts of the last two decades? In central Asia, the US military IS the terrorist. http://www.unknownnews.net/casualties.html

            Hauerwas on reading Romans 13 in light of Romans 12: http://wp.theoblogical.org/?p=5053

            What Rev. King said rings true today, just replace Vietnam with “The War on Terror.”

            “As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.” http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0115-13.htm

            Also, I’m slightly surprised at the prevalence of OT arguments to supplant the words that come from the very lips of Jesus.

            Matthew 5:43-48 (New International Version, ©2011)

            43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

          • Hey Eric, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I’m pretty sure the 9/11 attacks were NOT, um, an agent of God. I know, I know. The gall! The audacity to make such a gutsy declarative statement!

            I mean, come on. What’s next? The US is a terrorist operation? Oh, wait. My bad.

            :)

          • jeremy

            God used the wicked and vile Syrians and Bablyonians as his agents to brings justice. The reality is Osama could and may have been a small part of God’s justice/judgment on American pride and the wickedness that is so prevalent in our nation… Just because he could be an agent of God doesn’t mean he himself is not due his own justice.

          • jeremy

            Eric the words of Jesus were written to the Church they were the principals of how to live out our faith as a church. Surely you don’t support the principals of the church determining the policy of america? Many of the OT passage depict how God acts on a national level to punish wickedness. There easily can be a saying to encourage ME to love my enemies and give my life for them, yet promote a government to eliminate wicked and violent people.

            The biblical truth of the matter is that God uses sinful peoples and nations to be his agents of justice/judgment on other sinners. We americans have our own judgment and justice coming. The reality is that American sanitized wickedness and selfish is just a putrid before a Holy God as the wickedness of Osama.

            As far as the OT goes. It would be foolish to quote a single instance Jesus and neglect massive passages of the OT. While they are not prescriptive to us today as believes they definitely paint a very good picture of the heart of God and how he still operates today! I believe we should pray and love our enemies while allowing God to use Governments to bear the sword and extinguish a man who openly abused women and children. A man who sole mission in life was wicked. A man who used his own friends as bombs so he could live in a posh home. Osama was wicked and he deserved what he got. The difference between himself and me is that I have had my wickedness wash clean by the Holy Spirit. Now when God looks upon me he sees the righteousness of his Son Jesus Christ. For that, I am eternally grateful. For that, I willing will pray for and give my life for my enemy. Because when I die I pass from all wrath. When my enemies die they pass into complete wrath.

          • Nish

            These are good words, Piper. Though, I sit on a different side of the coin in regards to the Old Testament. Yes, I believe that God commanded armies and took lives, but I believe that the paradigm shifted when Christ came on the scene. I simply cannot reconcile the killing of an individual with the teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. The crux lies there, for me.

            Thanks for being here. I so appreciate your thoughtful contribution.

          • Thank you so much Nish, I am glad we can agree to disagree, thanks you for your words of wisdom.

            I am careful though to use all of Scripture to interpret Scripture. Too often, the Old Testament is discarded as “plan A” that didn’t work and now “plan B” is implemented. God is the same yesterday, today and forever He changes not. (Hebrews 13:8). There just is no support in the NT to suggest a country has no right to defend itself against tyranny and remove evil. Why would it be okay in the OT and not in the NT? Killing an individual is wrong in the Old and the New, but not military action to defend.

            I think that this will be one of those subjects that will be debated until Christ returns :)
            Thank you for your blog, I enjoy your writing.
            God Bless!

          • Piper, I just wanted to leave a small comment in response to something you said. When people argue back and forth about heated topics such as this I get overwhelmed and often frustrated. But I have to remind myself of what you said, “….this will be one of those subjects that will be debated until Christ returns.” Amen to that! We, as ordinary people will NEVER agree upon one final resolution or answer because that isn’t our job.

          • vampfreak

            I just discovered this blog and I just wanted to add another thing. Osama bin laden was assasinated. Everyone knows that. They outnumbered him? How would killing him be self defence if they outnumbered him? They caught him off guard! Osama was assasinated. And that was NOT an act of God. God is a God of love. America is messed up.. Look what they did to Sadam Hussein.. They hanged him on international tv!!! Yes they both did bad things. But killing them? That is not our choice to make. No human has the right to take another human’s life.. No matter what he did.. They should have thrown him in jail! Not kill him! That is not God’s will. God can’t be blamed for all the bad things.. Why blame God? Why not blame Satan?

          • Eric Malone

            Jeremy & others,
            I have two points of contention.

            First… America is NOT Israel. Indeed, even the modern state of Israel is NOT Israel. You cannot drop the commands of God to a people in the OT into the context of modern nation states. The CHURCH is Israel, and any commands to the Church (New Israel) by Jesus override anything that was demanded of Israel earlier. The commands include loving your enemy, turning the other cheek (LITERALLY!) and being a peacemaker (Lk 6:27-36, Mt 5:9,21-26, 43-48).

            Second… you didn’t answer my question. If this particular action of the American government was “justified by God,” how do you know? What tells you that this had anything to do with God? I ask because I don’t believe that anyone can claim the actions of the US government in this instance (or any instance really) is a “divinely endorsed action of justice,” we don’t determine what is and isn’t justice from God, we simply don’t know. If you still believe that the US military was used in this instance to exact God’s specific justice, how do you reconcile that with the woman who was also killed in this attack and more importantly how do you reconcile it with the operations in Afghanistan/Pakistan that have killed untold thousands?

            Also, Piper, there is nothing to suggest anything about what the state can and cannot do, because that’s not the focus of scripture. The author of Hebrews does, however, explicitly state the superiority of the new Adam and the new Covenant.

          • Sarah

            Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Testament.

            Matthew 5:17
            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

            God abhors sin, yet loves all. As followers of God, He calls us in His Word to do likewise: love people, but hate their sin.

            Romans 12:9b
            Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

            Matthew 22:39b
            Love your neighbor as yourself.

            In the Bible, God establishes that He is the God of justice, and commands his followers to act justly. God knows that sin only leads to destruction.

            Psalm 33:5a
            The LORD loves righteousness and justice

            Isaiah 1:17a
            Learn to do right; seek justice.

            Isaiah 61:8a
            “For I, the LORD, love justice

            In His Word, God instituted laws that established justice. Sin must have consequences.

            Exodus 21:12-14
            12″Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. 14But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

            Leviticus 24:17
            “‘If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death.

            Leviticus 24:21
            Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death.

            Galatians 6:7-8
            Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

            In these previous scriptures, God clearly establishes the just punishment for murder. Osbama Bin Laden made the choice to become a mass murder, which came with a clearly established consequence. Justice prevailed in his death.

            Romans 13:4
            For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

            God has given authority the power to punish wrongdoers. Therefore, America was perfectly justified in killing Osbama Bin Laden. Though Christians are saddened by his present location, we must remember that he chose to spend eternity in hell.

            Romans 1:20
            For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

          • Sarah

            See my below comment

          • Nish

            Mandy, understand your point and I respect (and also feel) that same relief that Bin Laden in dead, in some respects. That’s what I’m having trouble wrestling with. But I completely and wholeheartedly disagree that this situation was no different than God commanding armies in the Old Testament. That’s a pretty big jump I’m not sure I can support.

        • I can appreciate your perspective, Nish. What we both agree on is that Christians ought not engage in the kind of hateful glee we saw on Twitter last night. In that regard, we are definitely on the same side of the coin. :)

          Reply
    • Justin

      he was in a fire fight with USA soldiers that defend your right to make this comment. So are you telling me that you wanted my brothers and sisters in harms way to die because you feel sorry for this man. i think shit happens and you slap a dog on the nose, you have a chance of getting bitten.

      Reply
      • Nish

        Justin, first of all, I’m grateful for your service to this country. It does not go unnoticed or unvalued by me. Thank you.

        Secondly, thank you for reading here. I’m thankful that you would stop by.

        Finally, I don’t think Vickie was suggesting, in ANY way, shape or form, that she wanted your fellow servicemen and women to die. With all due respect, I feel that you’re grossly overgeneralizing her statement. The point, I believe, that Vickie was trying to make was that as followers of Jesus Christ, we should not be rejoicing in the stark and saddening fact that yet another soul will be eternally separated from God. As evil as his acts were, Osama Bin Laden was still a human life created by the same God that created you and me. Reading her comment, I think she was taking a serious look at the effect that war has on the Kingdom of God, and how she believes the killing of human life goes against the heart of Christ.

        Reply
  4. Lisa L.

    Nish, I SO appreciate the tone and content of this. A big “amen” went up inside of me reading it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate you being here.

      Reply
  5. our response to the killing of a killer does not itself reflect justice.

    it reflects our heart.

    Reply
    • Nish

      That’ll preach! Well said, Rain.

      Reply
    • Word.

      Reply
    • Maria

      Rain,

      Very well said!

      Nish, I just stumbled upon this blog. Thank you for saying what I feel. It is nice to know I am not alone. The rejoicing just does not sit well with what I believe god charges us to do.

      Reply
  6. Nish, you wrote the words I was searching for last night as I fumbled with my own post about the celebration. Thank you for this.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Elora, for your support. Means much to me.

      Reply
    • I have to echo Elora – you have said precisely what I knew I couldn’t put words to. Thanks for the humble, careful, thoughtful message here, friend.

      Reply
      • Nish

        Thanks, sweet lady. I appreciate your encouragement, as always.

        Reply
  7. Wow. Thank you for words that speak deeply to all I’ve been feeling since I heard the news. God bless you!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Cindee. May God grant you peace today.

      Reply
  8. These are words I’ve been looking for all morning. My husband woke me up this morning with the news, and I’ve felt unsettled since. I’ve been shuddering looking through my FB stream filled with the same sentiments you mentioned. There’s something bigger than just his death that is tugging on me. The notion that all is fixed, that all is well, that there is peace with his death. I don’t think that’s the case. Praying with you this morning… thank you for your words.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Yes… that is so important to remember. All is not fixed. Not yet. Unless I missed Jesus’ return somehow…

      Reply
  9. Sue

    To steal from Max Lucado,

    If Jesus’ blood is not enough for my enemies, it’s not enough for me.

    Reply
    • Nish

      That’s always a great quote. Thanks, Sue.

      Reply
  10. Tiffany

    i agree with other comments…. these words are ones i have been looking for since i found out. last night my initial reaction was relief. then it went to sadness. i asked God for forgiveness that i was happy somebody had died. not even sure what to think now.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Tiffany, I confess mine was relief, too. I hope that in this post, it doesn’t come across that I’m some sort of saint. I struggle with this issue. I’m glad that this one man is no longer capable of orchestrating acts of violence and death… but I wonder if we could have administered justice closer to Jesus heart with capture, rather than murder.

      Reply
  11. Well said.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Sally.

      Reply
  12. Jana

    I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong for us to rejoice in Osama’s death. I think back on numerous scriptures where God ends peoples lives because of their pure wickedness. This happens all throughout Genesis. Who’s to say that God didn’t completely open the doors for Osama to be found? If he didn’t want Osama dead then he would still be alive and free.

    I guess we could swing the door far left or far right. Justice is served or Grace to be bestowed.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I said this earlier in the comments in response to someone else, but I’ll say it here, because it applies as well.

      I believe that we will all be judged by the One True judge, God in his full sovereignty. We’ll meet Him one day, but I don’t believe it’s ever our place as followers of Christ to arrange that meeting through murder. Something about that doesn’t feel right.

      Reply
    • “If he didn’t want Osama dead then he would still be alive and free.” if that is true, that what of everyone killed by cancer or gun violence or natural disasters? i don’t believe we can label death–especially execution–as God’s will.

      Reply
      • “Thy will be done.”
        I’ve prayed God’s will, over mine, numerous times in reference to death.
        I’ve given up control, handed it [situations] over to Him and said, “Lord, Your will. You know best. Show me the way…”

        God knew this would happen. He knew the plan. He knows. He knows all. Who are we to judge? Who are we to say this *wasn’t* His will, His plan?

        Reply
  13. You said it perfectly, Nish.

    I want to personally thank you for convicting me yesterday. I wrote a tweet yesterday expressing relief that he was dead. Then you retweeted a message (https://twitter.com/theoutdoorwife/status/64887877401706497) and I knew I was wrong. I deleted my tweet. Thank you. I was wrong for what I wrote and I completely agree with not rejoicing in anyone’s death no matter what they did.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Miranda, thanks for being here. I can’t say that I’m not without relief in my heart. One less man who commits violent evil in the world, right? I’m just working hard to reconcile that with what Christ did on the cross and what Scripture says about murder and the avenging of death. It’s hard. I’m wrestling.

      Peace, friend.

      Reply
  14. I’m not sure it is a fair assessment to say there should be no RELIEF over the death of a man who brought nothing but grief, pain, hatred and confusion to this world and has had, no doubt, multiple chances to seek a different route. He, like all of us, had a choice as to what we believe.

    I agree with Kati and Rebekah. I believe the Lord uses people to carry out His justice on this earth. There are a multitude of examples of this in the Bible, where God no longer tolerated those who did not treat Him as Holy and therefore they met with death. How do we, as humans, determine that this was not an act of the Lord in response to the desperate pleas of His people for safety from this man, who He no doubt loved, as He loves us all? The Lord knows exactly our day of death and exactly how it will happen. He directs our paths and He ensures we all have opportunities to repent and seek His face before that happens.

    I wasn’t shocked by the response or joyful. It is sad, Nish, that a man should die without knowing the one true God. Always sad and we are called, as Christians, to be burdened for those who do not know God.

    This event drives me to my knees for the safety of our country … of my children, because, no doubt, there is another who is like Osama who will follow in his footsteps and there may be those who are plotting revenge as I type. It drives me to my knees on behalf of those in our country and around the world to turn back and/or turn to the Lord, repent, seek His face in order that He might heal our land, which is ultimately, His land, and not just America, but the world … His world, full of people He loves. (2 Chron. 7:14) This world, which, according to the Bible, is ruled by satan and His principalities. (Eph. 6:12)

    It is very confusing to be living in these times. The end times. It is a state of tension. One we must be very prayerful for … always prayerful.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Debra, like I said to earlier commenters, I am certainly not without relief that Osama Bin Laden is not able to carry out acts of evil and terror anymore. I am just trying to figure this out in the context of Christ, His sacrifice for all of mankind (yes, ALL), and whether or not murder is EVER justified. It is clearly laid out in Scripture that murder is sin. Do we rejoice in that act, even though it may seem just? Or do we grieve that even MORE death occurred? And what would Jesus say in response? I’m just trying to figure that out.

      Thanks for being here.

      Reply
      • Precious Nish … I can see in all these comments that hearts are confused and/or broken. I love that your heart is so tender for this issue. I most definitely know, without question, that Jesus died for us all. Period. I know about murder in a personal way in that my dad was murdered and there came a time where I had to walk in complete forgiveness and grace toward his murderer. It is sad all the darkness and questions that come with violence, premeditated or otherwise. Perhaps these are questions not answered until we meet Jesus and can ask Him. What I know is He is sovereign and He can and does stop events and others He allows for His purposes. We cannot completely know the mind of Christ. May we all be always looking to Him and His word and ways to answer these questions and show grace to ourselves and to those who find different answers than ours.

        Reply
  15. Thank you for writing from your heart about the events of last night. I love your perspective and the way you write about it.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Frelle.

      Reply
  16. Thank you! I have had an uneasy feeling with everyone cheering and singing and celebrating. He was a man who did horrible, horrible things, and I can imagine that it’s a sense of relief or justice for those who lost loved one in the attacks on 9/11. However, cheering and rejoicing just felt wrong. It is a victory for the military, and the end of a man who led atrocious acts of hatred, but it doesn’t mean the end of terrorism all together. I in no way wish he was still alive, but I wish we would think before we shout songs of joy for someone’s death, even the death of a evil man.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks Stephanie, it felt uneasy to me, too. It is certainly a victory for our military and I commend them all for their bravery and thank God for keeping them safe. I pray now, for peace. As always.

      Reply
  17. Thank you for posting this and being a voice of sanity this morning. Yes he did truly evil things and should have been tried in a court of law for them and held accountable, but the way many are responding is incredibly disheartening.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Mason. That’s how I feel, too.

      Reply
  18. I’m glad I wasn’t online last night or near a TV when it happened. My stomach is still slightly ill at the thought of a soul going on to an eternity without God. Like you, I rejoiced in the success of a “safer” world (though there will be countless others rising up in his stead), but I was more than saddened by the loss of another soul to hell. Thank you for speaking up on this issue!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Ashley.

      Reply
    • I feel the same way, Ashley. I’m glad I wasn’t on FB or Twitter last night.

      Reply
      • My husband texted me this morning when he got up for work… my response was “yeah!” and then an instant sadness. I wouldn’t have dealt well with the response Nish saw last night on Twitter!

        Reply
  19. I guess from a different perspective…As I was watching Twitter blow up last night, I said to a few people that I felt odd, a mixed of emotions myself. My husband and I talked about what the “right” Christian response should be. I’m still not sure. But I will say about some of those that we probably both saw on Twitter last night who are believers, rejoicing in his death…perhaps it was just the pure raw reaction and emotions of waiting a long time to see some sort of justice served. Whether it was God’s justice can be debated back and forth, but bottom line, I think a lot of what we saw last night was a knee jerk reaction. This morning, I’m not sure if we would see so many people (or Christians) outwardly voicing their happiness so freely. Just a thought?

    Reply
    • Nish

      I completely agree that most of the comments were knee-jerk. Whole-heartedly. But even today, as I watch the feed and watch Facebook… I see the same sentiments being made known, in the name of justice and nationalism.

      Reply
  20. Laura

    I’ve been so torn by this, up most of the night. Relieved there is just a tiny bit less evil in the world, then ashamed because I know any sin in my life contributes to that same evil. Sin is sin in God’s eyes and He doesn’t differentiate between my loss of temper in a frustrated moment and the atrocities that Osama committed. It all breaks His heart. Rejoicing with such glee seems to make us no different than the same people that rejoiced at news of the success of 9/11. And how is waterboarding and other forms of torture inhumane but murder is ok? I don’t know what my response should be, because on the other hand, the memories of people jumping from the towers and so many other visual horrors from that day that are seared in my mind and heart make me so grateful justice was done. I’m not rejoicing. I’m not grieving Osama’s loss of life either though, so I’m praying because I truly don’t know what my response should be.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Laura, I think your response is the best one anyone could hope for. Grateful that you are prayerful. May we all be so, as we navigate the tension.

      Reply
  21. Anna

    Thank you. I just had to listen to someone talk to me, in my home, about “those people” and had to restrain myself on facebook as people celebrated and talked about “those people”. And all the time I was hoping The Deeper Story would share a post that might give voice to my uneasiness. Thank you!

    You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image, when it, turns out that God hates all the same people you do. ~Anne Lamott

    Thank goodness, He loves “those people” just as much as He loves us.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I love that Anne Lamott quote. Thanks for being here, Anna. And thank goodness His love is beyond our comprehension.

      Reply
  22. I was online last night and just watched the twitter stream. Of course – naturally, its a shock that 10 years has gone by. I couldn’t help but think of David and his reaction to Goliath. I believe there is a “righteous” anger when unbelievers hurt believers for the single purpose of evil – however – to rejoice someone is “burning” is definitely not God’s desire. He sent His Son – so no one – NOT ONE – zero – zilch, noda would perish (eternal separation). He sent His Son for that guy too – sadly, it didn’t matter to him. God does not see sin as a hierarchy – its all the same – so my disobedience looks like sin too. And that’s why I am thankful so thankful He gives His grace and mercy to those who love His Son!

    thanks Nish for being bold and putting it out there!

    Reply
    • Nish

      “To rejoice someone is burning is definitely not God’s desire.”

      Yes. This. Thanks, Stef.

      Reply
  23. I’m still so conflicted by this and as of yet haven’t had the time to write about it. I, like you, believe that Christ died for ALL of us, regardless of the lives we lead. He still loves us as His children even if we don’t love him back and refuse to believe in His grace and mercy.

    The question for me isn’t necessarily about murder as much as it’s about war. Is killing during war murder?

    That’s what I’m grappling with today.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I’m grappling too, Miranda. Peace to you.

      Reply
  24. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Jesus’ major reversal of how we think and respond and live in this world. He brought a WHOLE new way of thinking that completely caught the pharisees off guard. It is something that draws me to Him, that I want to grasp, but is so immense and beyond comprehension, yet I think if we Christians could really get a hold of (or perhaps, He truly getting a hold of us!) would turn this world upside down. Paul touches on it in Romans 12:21 where he says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I think there is where the real victory lies.

    How or whether this applies on a government/national level, I don’t know. But I wonder where/when the retaliation will end. Who fires the last shot? Perhaps this is why leaving revenge to God is the best option.

    Just some thoughts to add to the mix…

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Silvana, for your thoughts here. This is the crux for me, too. Where is the Cross, in all of this mess? When Christ came, preached, died and rose again changed everything, our entire paradigm. How does that play out in this context?

      Good questions.

      Reply
  25. Jen Zakaras

    I believe as a country we were correct in our actions. Although I admit my first instant reaction was joy and excitement….”eye for an eye” if you will. I was immediately convicted. Although this man was brought to justice in a manner fitting of his crime; he was not tortured, he was offered a chance to surrender, and to be honest it was much more humane then other methods of capital punishment. I did not feel correct in gloating or celebrating. I do feel pride in our military for continuing to fight, but true celebration of aha we got you did not feel right. Again, I feel the action was right… but I feel my response is and should be one of remembrance for those who lost their lives and sadness for those who do not know the truth of Jesus.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for sharing your voice here, Jen. It’s appreciated. Within the context of the kingdom/empire mindset, I can see how our military’s actions would be correct. But I have to remind myself that the military answers to the leaders of the government, which, in my own belief, is not set out to do the work of bringing forth God’s Kingdom to earth.

      And yes… sadness for those who do not know the truth of Jesus. May our hearts be wrecked by that every day, not just in this instance.

      Reply
  26. This has been an emotional battle for me. As a military wife who knows the sacrifices that have been made by my husband, our friends, and close family for the cause that resulted from the attacks of 9/11 it’s hard not to feel a sense of ease, relief and joy at the news that this brutal Terrorism mastermind has been brought to justice. But at the same time, my heart aches at the thought that he will never know the love that our God can offer. And I’m convicted by my feelings of excitement at this “victory…” I don’t think our human hearts and minds can grasp the appropriate emotions of this event. Beautifully written.

    Reply
    • Nish

      First of all, thank you, Courtney, for your continued sacrifice and courage as a wife to a soldier. I am grateful.

      I struggle with the same relief/justice/ache in my heart, too.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  27. First, thank you for a measured and gracious conversation here. It is so easy to react on an emotional level and begin throwing scripture back and forth without considering the whole of redemptive history. Yes, we are commanded to refrain from celebrating the death of the wicked, and yes, God slow to anger and abounding in love, yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished. The challenge, for faithful followers of Christ, is to hold these in tension, recognizing we are fallen, sinful, and will never get it completely right. I think this statement above is interesting: “I cannot expect the military to carry out values of the Kingdom when they are being directed by leaders of the Empire.” What seems to get lost is the distinction between Kingdom and Empire. At the same time, as mentioned above, Christ has given the power of the sword to the empire to guard and protect the weak and helpless and to maintain order in a broken, fallen world. In this world, the sword will never be wielded with perfect justice, and we may discuss and debate its proper use; but it is a gift from God nonetheless and somehow reflects his gracious care for us until the restoration is complete, all things are made new, and all war will cease.

    Reply
    • Nish

      This is an absolutely perfect depiction of the tension we’ve found ourselves in. Thanks for sharing it so clearly, Nancy. It’s appreciated.

      Reply
  28. Tiffany

    It is infrequent that I feel so confused on an event that happens in our country. I feel sick today. There is a part of me that says “thank God he is dead” – then there is a part of me that says “is his sin different than your sin; is his sin beyond forgiveness?” – then another part fights back with “did he ever want forgiveness? WOULD he ever want forgiveness? would the killings have ever stopped?” – then another voice pops ups with “whose right is it, besides God’s right, to judge his heart, or his future actions” – but the voice, in the end, that feels the most confused is the one that says “was there another way to bring justice to a little girl who no longer has a daddy? or a wife who no longer has a husband? or parents who had to bury their children?”
    Thank you for this post. I’m thankful for absolutely any clarity I can find today.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Grateful that you are here, Tiffany. Thanks for sharing the tension you find yourself in. You’re not alone!!

      Reply
  29. Standing with you in the conviction that a posture of humble prayer and non-violence is the shape our hearts should take. How do we feel when our “enemies” celebrate the deaths of ones we love? We can only be sure we’re standing on the “right” side when we stand on the side of love. I continue to hope for open ears and eyes, open minds, and open hearts to build more understanding between the Muslim world and the Western world.

    Reply
    • Nish

      That is my hope too, Bristol. Thanks for sharing. This was beautiful.

      Reply
  30. I didn’t know if my family members had heard yet, so I texted them last night, “Are you watching the news?”

    I typed “Bin Laden is dead!” into my phone. Then paused. I deleted the exclamation point.

    I edited it, “Bin Laden was found and killed.”

    Even my most natural response to this news (telling my parents and siblings) made me stop in my tracks to consider what I was communicating.

    The coverage outside the White House and in Times Square seemed so unreal. A bunch of 20-somethings screaming and smiling and chanting looked more like Spring Break shenanigans than a response to international news. I just stared in shock.

    Then I hoped members of the military were watching, and feeling cheered on and supported and (finally) given some positive feedback by the media.

    I’m still stunned and not sure the right way to respond.

    Thank you for a place to process all this.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for being open and honest and WILLING to process, Emily. I think these conversations are needed and valuable. I pray we don’t shy away from them. Peace to you.

      Reply
  31. What got me was the people having a party in the street over his death. Too much. And then to see the celebration of Christians. To me it looked like celebrating revenge, forgetting that we are to be merciful, not vengeful. They keep saying the world is a safer place, but no. Someone will rise to take his place, and as we sought revenge, they too will be thirsty for revenge. I venture to say it is less peaceful today. As I read the celebratory words of Christians I am reminded of the scene in Defiance where those hiding in the woods capture a soldier working for the Nazis, and they take their anger and vengeance out on him, beating him mercilessly until he is dead. It is such a difficult scene to watch, but just as difficult for me to read Christians posts of “enjoy your time in hell” and “rejoice he is dead.” We are called to forgive. We are called to show mercy. Let the armies take these matters into their hands, let those who do not follow Christ’s ways cheer, but we, as Christians, should be mourning and sorrowful today.

    Reply
    • And let me add, I am not saying it was wrong for the military to do what they deemed necessary for the security of the world. My point is not against the armies killing Osama (that is for God to judge), it is against the celebratory tone of Christians. That is where I am troubled.

      Reply
      • Nish

        Me too, Amy. Me too. Thanks for sharing.

        Reply
  32. I think that what sums up the way I feel most eloquently right now is this – the words of a vicar friend of my daughter’s: “The reaction to the death of someone made in God’s image, however corrupted by evil they were, should, I think, be one of humility and grace.”

    Reply
    • Anna

      Amen.

      Reply
    • Nish

      That’s a great response, Linds. Thanks for sharing that.

      Reply
  33. Nish – Well said. Have you read Bonhoeffer? He struggled with many of these same questions as a man who was committed to the sermon on the mount, but also felt compelled to stop Hitler. I wrote a post awhile back about the book, but also have it if you want to borrow. Wait, I think someone is inline first, but then you can. (-:

    Reply
    • Nish

      Ohhhhh Joy. Yes. My love for Bonhoeffer goes deep! His biography (the newest one) is incredible, I hear. I need to download it to Kindle one of these days! I look forward to reading it. (And thanks for your encouragement friend. It means much to me.)

      Reply
  34. Julia

    The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

    These are some other verses that come to my mind as I think about this Bin Laden episode. Some people have said that the killing of Bin Laden is no different than people in the Old Testament rejoicing over Goliath’s death (and other types of examples), but the Old Testament was pre-Jesus.

    I have to stop over those first words of John 13:34–”A new command…” We are not called to hate and kill and judge, and rejoice over the deaths of evil-doers. We’re called to love as Christ loved. And he loved in a HUGE, messy way– loving the Bin Ladens and the “not-so-Bin-Laden’s” of this world enough to give up his life. He died for all humankind, no matter what “kind” of human that person was.

    Reply
    • Nish

      My heart lies there, too, Julia. In this new command and this new paradigm that we are called into by Jesus. What would he think of this? What would His response be? I wish He was here in my kitchen to tell me… I’d do whatever he asked… I hope…

      Reply
  35. Don Dinnerville

    Thanks for your words and the heart behind those words. I thought last night that in the same way most of our generation will remember where we were the morning of 9/11/01, most of us will probably also remember where we were 5/1/11 when we heard this news. But I think my reactions were the same – sadness at the finality of death and the futility of believing in the deceptions of the enemy. I am infinitely grateful that apart from God’s grace, I could / would be a terrorist too – if not a political terrorist, I would at least be an individual that felt my selfish desires were worth subverting the rights of others, living in a constant state of selfishness.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Don, thanks for being here. I’m grateful for your contribution to the discussion. I love what you said here “apart from God’s grace, I could/would be a terrorist too.” YES that is my heart. All sin & fall short of the glory of God. May we always bestow His grace unto others, as He has poured out on me, a sinner & the worst.

      Reply
  36. Jose arauz

    Well said, thanks for sharing

    Jose

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Jose. I appreciate you being here.

      Reply
  37. I’m not exactly sure what to say. I’m wrestling with similar issues and poured my heart out on my blog this morning. It’s a relief to me that I’m not alone in feeling conflicted. I will continue to pray.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for sharing, Becky. I’ll head over to your blog in just a moment. I look forward to reading.

      And, you’re safe to struggle here. I hope you know that. :)

      Reply
  38. Sharon

    I don’t have a twitter account and this is one of the reasons why. Too often, people react in the moment and tweet something they haven’t really thought through. They in turn are judged by everyone who “follows” them.

    While I understand your heart here, I think it’s important to make a distinction. OBL was not killed in Jesus’ name (thankfully). I will not rejoice in Jesus’ name or “praise the lord” for his death. He was killed by our military, acting in our best interest, for our security, in the name of justice. I will rejoice that justice has been done and thank the people who are willing to be the agent of that justice.

    Reply
    • Nish

      It was nights like last night that make me seriously consider deleting my own Twitter account, Sharon!

      Yes, I agree… Bin Laden was not killed in Jesus’ name. But he was killed by the hand of another man, because someone gave the order that he should be killed for what he has done. And I disagree with that argument… but I expect to be at odds with the government over many things because they are operating under the structure of the empire, not of God’s Kingdom. It’s a sober reminder of where my allegiance must truly rest.

      Reply
  39. It is so good, no doubt, to have a conversation about what our responses as Christ followers should be. What I saw the world doing last night, via every medium known to man, was reacting left, right and center. I find a heart full of grace for reactions, allowing for each person’s personal story and persuaders to come forth in the moment – “bastard” calling and all. (Because the truth is, Osama was a bastard with capitals. And so am I, albeit an adopted one.) But, where is the heart come morning? Filled with joy at one hated man’s death? Or sorrow for a life abused by darkness?

    This one bastard orchestrated the death of thousands and facilitated the oppression, pillaging, raping, violating of thousands more – woman and children included and boy does that get me more then anything else. Maybe capture would have been the better, more peace-seeking way, but humanity isn’t so good at peace and Osama would probably prefer death to the torture he was sure to endure from being taken alive. I don’t know. None of us do.

    This whole thing is just so many other colors then just black and white; too many variables, dimensions, layers and lives being woven through the pain and complexity of it. I’m tearing and tear-ing because I know the words of “love your enemy” and yet, it is easy for me to do so because I have not breathed the atrocity for myself, but from a distance. I wonder what the reactions/responses are of the people who first-hand suffered from Osama’s evil hand? I wonder what our reactions/responses would be if we had lived inside their skin instead of the security and comfort of our own? It’s so hard to say when we’re here and not there; safe instead of scourged with fear.

    The way I feel it’s supposed to be, conflicts with the way it IS . . . Deep within my heart I hold and treasure the ideal of peace and gentle response in the face of evil and darkness, but when my ideals collide with reality it colors all kinds of grey shades.

    And my only Hope comes through the words to a favored song. . .

    “I don’t have the power. I don’t even have a clue. I don’t know all the answers. I don’t even know a few. And if I were really honest and the truth were known of me, it may sound a little funny, but this what my prayer would be: I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You. I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are You. My Lord. What do we do? Lift my eyes towards the heavens, tune my ear to Your command – help me boast in my condition Lord – You’re the God and I’m the man . . . Victory is Yours . . .”

    Let us lift our eyes and pray and say amen. Eh?

    Reply
    • Sharon

      yes. thank you.

      Reply
    • Nish

      You, my friend, stated this so eloquently. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this contribution & reminder. Grateful for you here, E.

      Reply
  40. According to news reports, presidential orders were not to execute Bin Laden, but to take him alive as long as he did not resist arrest and threaten the lives of American soldiers. Turns out he chose to use one of his wives as a human shield during the attack, while shooting at his captors.

    Bin Laden could have lived through the attack if he had chosen to. But he attempted instead to kill the people who were seeking justice.

    Reply
    • Nish

      All true. And I am burdened by it all.

      Reply
  41. Thank you seems a bit inadequate but thank you. And me, too. (but you knew that.)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank YOU. xo

      Reply
  42. nakiru

    I was thinking about this VERY thing this morning, and was so happy to see a post here about it.

    I think that Christians especially have a duty to express their gratefulness for this man’s immediate influence’s end with caution. The darkness that resided in bin Laden’s heart is the same darkness that has been forgiven and redeemed in mine. There but for the grace of God go I.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Nakiru, thanks for being here. “The darkness that resided in Bin Laden’s heart is the same darkness that has been forgiven and redeemed in mine.” That is so beautiful. What a reminder of God’s grace. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  43. Mel

    My heart is heavy, too, seeing the glee of many Christians over bin Laden’s death. But, I do believe God uses us as his “ministers” of justice (Romans 13:4). If no killing by man is ever justified, how do we explain God delivering enemies of Israel into their hands to be killed? I tend to believe that God can and does use humans to accomplish His will, even if it means killing. We did not kill bin Laden out of malice or evil intent (unlike our victim); rather, he was killed resisting our military in an attempt to apprehend him for his wrongdoing. I don’t see how that is Biblically wrong. We should not rejoice, because the same God who loves us also loved OBL. We should approach this with sobriety and humility.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Mel, I hope that I am approaching it with sobriety and humility. I apologize if it came off as arrogant or assuming in any way.

      Using Old Testament stories of God leading Israel into battle is significantly different than this, in my opinion. And here is where the crux of the argument lies for me: The Sermon on the Mount, specifically Matthew 5:38-48. It simply cannot be ignored or forgotten. When Jesus came on the scene, died, and rose again, the entire paradigm shifted, including the context of the Old Testament.

      Reply
  44. I’ve typed and deleted more times than I can count, and then Piper’s comment showed up.
    Yes. That.
    My heart is there.
    My heart believes that God does purge the evil.
    My heart believes that our military does more good, than evil.

    My heart? Still aches. These wars are heavy and there’s so much darkness.
    But I believe, too, in Peace.
    One day. There will be Peace.
    And I can’t battle myself for the right and wrong of all this. It is.
    So I’ll find peace within myself to be the wife of a soldier. And I’ll pray that one day, He brings Peace to this world.
    I’ll pray that one day, this fight that my husband fights comes to an end… That these wars are not in vain. And that Good comes of this. Good that only He can bring.
    I pray there’s a reason. I believe there’s a Plan.
    Because He tells there is.
    Who am I to judge otherwise?

    I agree with you too, Nish…
    Hasten the day.

    Reply
    • On celebrating…
      I did not shout USA! in the streets. But that’s not to say, I didn’t want to.
      I don’t want to rejoice in his death… But at the same time, he can’t hurt another person.
      And then I breathe in again, and the celebrating lasts but a minute…
      Because it’s not over. His followers are still out there…

      Reply
      • Nish

        I’m in this place, too. It’s why I wrote. It’s why I asked questions. I am wrestling all of this tension. But I’m taking joy that this tension is only proof that the Kingdom is here… but not yet.

        My heart now asks the question – As believers and followers of Christ, where do we go from here? How do we move forward to bring forth peace? To further the Kingdom of God? Here on Earth as it is in Heaven?

        Reply
        • We wait.
          For Him.

          Our soldiers keep fighting. Because if they leave this war as it is, the evil will cross the ocean and attack us on our land. So for now, we protect ourselves- we defend (what I believe to be right).
          We pray that these actions open the doors for God’s words to spread into these countries.

          We pray.
          We wait.
          We believe.
          We know that He is in control.
          And we give Him our worry, our hearts, our burdens.
          We keep doing what we’re doing. Because it’s His plan, not ours.
          He leads the way.

          Reply
        • Just read somewhere on twitter- wish I knew where/who, so I could give credit, but-
          The jist being, that they wish for the world to be more free, so that the gospel can be preached. use this.

          Yes. That.
          This is His opportunity. This is where our feet get in the door.
          This is where we spread the gospel.

          Use this, Lord. Use this.

          How?

          Reply
  45. jeremy

    The only better outcome would be if Osama had met grace. However there is just as much joy in God’s Justice as there is in His Grace. Osama’s fate is just/Joyful and terrible/mournful. To forsake one for the other would be to short change the characte of God! A proper response would be both. Joy in God’s use of the american military to bring justice to wickedness that was Osama, joy knowing that he is fulling paying for every ounce of suffering he caused. Pain and sorrow knowing the terrible wrath of God that Osama (who is no more wicked than I) is experience now. I find a mix of joy and sorrow.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I’m living in that tension, too, Jeremy. Though, I struggle with death at the hands of another human being “justice” in the eyes of God, Jesus Christ.

      Reply
      • jeremy

        It most certainly is! Think on Israel’s (God’s Holy and Chosen People) judgment at the Hands of Syria and Babylon, or the Philistines or Midia or the countless other peoples and nations. Their use as tools of justice didn’t make those people holy or righteous in God’s eyes. He chooses nations to punish other nations. When I look at Osama who backed and support a culture/government that often cut off the fingers, noses, ears of women who didn’t show “proper respect” to men I can’t help but believe that this is God’s sovereign justice on him and his followers.

        Yet it is important to note that God’s chosen instruments of judgment always were judged themselves. The horrible reality is that our nation and people have got out own judgement coming as well. All peoples and nations will be judged. I love that about our God. No one nation will escape as being beyond or greater than the judgment of God. His choice in other human beings does not validate them, they are mere his tools! Jesus who was mighty in his meekness will return as a vanquishing warrior to bring judgment all the wicked who have not submitted their hearts and lives to God.

        If anything this whole episode makes me want to encourage our fellow Americans to repent of all our sins and wickedness. Ones which will with most certainty bring judgement to the USA. Sooner or later the question will be less will God bless america, and more has america blessed God?

        Reply
  46. Nish

    I heard this quote from what I thought was the poignant and prophetic MLK Jr. (but it turns out that someone else said it. Source unknown):

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that”

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    • So now I’m a little confused…I admittedly have not had time to read through the hundred comments, but I thought originally you were begging the question if it was Christian like to celebrate his death. Now, are you asking if he should have been killed at all?

      Reply
      • Nish

        LOL. Yeah the conversation has progressed that way throughout the comment chain in some areas. And yes, I am also asking that question… is it ever okay for followers of Christ to forcibly take the life of another?

        Thanks for stopping in, Andrea. :)

        Reply
        • Eric Malone

          Nish, it’s never okay for a Christian to take the life of another. I don’t know how Jesus could have spelled this out any better in his time here on earth.

          Keep it up Nish, it’s something that believers need to hear and heed.

          Reply
          • Nish

            Thanks for your encouragement, Eric. The argument for me lies within the teachings of Jesus as well. Many are quoting Old Testament encounters of God commanding armies and bringing death, but I’m not sure how that works out when the paradigm shifted with Jesus. Did he not come so that we (ALL) may have life? I struggle here. But I confess I do crave justice. I’m just not sure that death, at the hand of another human, is the kind of justice that pleases God.

    • Sarah

      God abhors sin, yet loves all. As followers of God, He calls us in His Word to do likewise: love people, but hate their sin.

      Romans 12:9b
      Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

      Matthew 22:39b
      Love your neighbor as yourself.

      In the Bible, God establishes that He is the God of justice, and commands his followers to act justly. God knows that sin only leads to destruction.

      Psalm 33:5a
      The LORD loves righteousness and justice

      Isaiah 1:17a
      Learn to do right; seek justice.

      Isaiah 61:8a
      “For I, the LORD, love justice

      In His Word, God instituted laws that established justice. Sin must have consequences.

      Exodus 21:12-14
      12″Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. 14But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

      Leviticus 24:17
      “‘If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death.

      Leviticus 24:21
      Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death.

      In these previous scriptures, God clearly establishes the just punishment for murder. Osbama Bin Laden made the choice to become a mass murder, which came with a clearly established consequence. Justice prevailed in his death.

      Romans 13:4
      For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

      God has given authority the power to punish wrongdoers. Therefore, America was perfectly justified in killing Osbama Bin Laden. Though Christians are saddened by his present location, we must remember that he chose to spend eternity in hell.

      Romans 1:20
      For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

      Reply
    • only the first line was mis-attributed, and the rest of MLK’s words are even more powerful:

      The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
      begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
      Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
      Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie,
      nor establish the truth.
      Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.
      In fact, violence merely increases hate….
      Returning violence for violence multiples violence,
      adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
      Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
      Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

      MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

      i wrote about this very thing last night. MLK is spot on.

      Reply
  47. Alexis Brennen

    My nephews and nieces were 4, 3 and 1 when their mother died on 9/11. They were the same age when thier father committed suicide 6 months later. They have no memory of thier mother getting them out of the bathtub and wrapping them in a fluffy white towel with a sharks head. They have no memory of their father reading them bedtime stories. Today, I asked them how they felt about OBL’s death. The oldest said “I feel relief. I have been so worried that other innocent people will die because of him. Now I don’t have to worry about that anymore.” Tonight when you are down on your knees, praying for OBL’s immortal soul, I will say a simple prayer of thanks for granting relief from worry, to a little boy. Balance.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Alexis, first of all, I’m really, deeply, truly sorry for your loss. I’m not going to pretend to know what that’s like, how it feels. I just hope you don’t read this as being so one-sided. That is not my heart. I am struggling and wrestling with how to move forward.

      But please know that nowhere did I say that it’s not okay to feel relief. In my own heart, I feel that. That’s where I struggle. And when I have prayed over and for the situation we have found ourselves in, I no longer pray for Osama Bin Laden. His eternity is now sealed and that’s that. What I pray for is peace. Peace for those who have lost so much, like your nephews and nieces. I pray for the church as it tries to live out the meaning of humility, mercy, grace, love and justice. I pray for my own heart, that it would be quiet and turned towards the only One who can redeem messes like this. And I, too… pray for thanks for relief.

      Peace to you.

      Reply
  48. My words will not be nearly as poetic as many that have gone before me here…
    What I’m realizing about myself is this: Had Bin Laden been found and killed, say, within a month of 9/11, I have little doubt I would have felt joyful… triumphant… vindicated, somehow. Today? I don’t feel the celebration. I just feel, well, resolved. It is done. I am neither dancing with joy nor weeping with grief. I’m not really sure what any of that says about me…

    Reply
    • Nish

      I think it says that you’re totally normal in your feelings, JessieLeigh. I’m neither either… and that’s where I wrestle… in the tension of both.

      Reply
  49. I have been wrestling with mixed emotions all day. My husband and I have discussed 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, and terrorism throughout the day. We have discussed the history of war and the rhetoric behind terrorism.

    And finally, I realize what it is I am feeling.

    It is not sadness that Osama Bin Laden is dead. He created a network of terrorism that horribly killed thousands of people. And he is dead.

    And I think that is all that needs to be said. He is dead. (period should be the loudest part of that sentence.)

    Whether Christian or not, I believe it is almost inhuman to rejoice in the death of another. It should be looked at with solemnity. Accept and move forward. Move on as a people, as a military, as a nation to do what needs to be done.

    We will still need to defend against terrorism. The death of Bin Laden does not end the war or terrorism. We will still need to rebuild a nation.

    I look back to the day President Truman delivered the news about the A-Bomb we dropped on Japan. It was NOT a day to rejoice. It was a day to stand quietly & solemnly:

    “The announcement, first given to the world in utmost solemnity by President Truman, made it plain that one of the scientific landmarks of the century had been passed, and that the “age of atomic energy,” which can be a tremendous force for the advancement of civilization as well as for destruction, was at hand.”

    War and death go hand in hand. I do not believe it is something we should rejoice in.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I echo your sentiments here, Aubrey. Specifically, “War and death go hand in hand.” I don’t think you can have one without the other. And I’m not sure that either are pleasing to God.

      Reply
  50. oh yes, i so agree with you. this is a sobering time, not a day to rejoice in vengeance and death. a time for prayer, for all of us. it breaks my heart to see Jesus’ followers celebrating today. i understand the relief, of course, but not the glad celebration over death.

    (this is my first time reading here, Nish. Ann V. pointed me here. So glad she did!)

    Reply
    • Nish

      On Tonia, I’m SO GLAD you’re here. (Did you and Ann have a great, glorious and life-full time at the coast?! She said you were both headed there. I hope it was a beautiful time for you both.) Ann is so kind to point you in this direction. I pray this is a place where many can encounter the hard questions in faith and culture and openly process and ask questions.

      And yes, I am with you. This is a sobering time. And I feel the relief, too… and I’m living in the tension of relief and yet, unease.

      Reply
  51. Romans 12:19 has played through my mind all day. My prayers have been made up mostly of “God, help! Help me, help our citizens, help our soldiers, help our governments, help our world. And teach me how to help.”

    Reply
    • Romans 12:19, that is.

      Reply
    • Nish

      Mine, too.

      Reply
  52. Clyde Melton

    I heard of bin Laden’s dead first thing this morning, May 2, or 5-2, so I turned to Ps. 52 to read, “Mighty warrior, why do you brag about the evil you do? God’s love will continue forever. You think up evil plans, …But God will ruin you forever. He will grab you and throw you out of your tent, he will tear you away from the land of the living. Those who do right will see this and fear God.” Please read the rest of Ps. 52.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Clyde, I will definitely read the rest of it tonight. Thanks for being here.

      Reply
  53. I’m so glad to see so many others who feel a particular sadness about all that is behind the reality of this. I made a brief reference to being of this mind on Facebook and was relatively eaten alive by fellow Christians with a different viewpoint — those that felt scripture gave them full license to gloat and celebrate and wave flags in the street and they told me — if they could dance on his grave, they would have, and to say anything otherwise was unAmerican and unChristian, and they’d pray for me and hope that scripture would convict me. The idea was that good had triumphed over evil and surely God is celebrating too. And I find that I disagree, and felt all the more sad that I seemed to be alone in feeling this way. I’m glad to have read others that feel that way today.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Cara, I am so sorry that you encountered that barrage of comments. I know it’s hard to stand alone in your convictions, but might I say “bravo!” for your courage to stand for what you believe God has said? I think you’re wise, friend. Thanks for being here.

      Reply
  54. Barbara

    I believed I was grown up… understood…to handle “things” now. 9/11 impacted my life also. Old as I am, numb and confused now. My mind and heart say the Lord is in control. Yet, as our President mentioned God’s name three times at the end of his statement Sunday night, I thought, the President had this man assassinated and then praised God and Country. Three times. Yes. Numb and confused. I will be praying.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I am both of those as well, Barbara. Thanks for sharing your heart here.

      Reply
  55. Lots of great discussion here! When I first heard this last night, my immediate response was “holy buckets!” The big news was not at all what I expected and I was in shock. Then my response was “yay?” I was glad that the threat of Osama was over but well aware that there are plenty of other terrorists waiting in the wings. I was grateful for all that the military has done to get us to this day. But my overwhelming emotion was sadness. The loss of life, no matter who it is or how it happens, is never something to be celebrated. When we add the fact that Osama likely faces eternal separation from God, our response should be sober and reflective. If we’d been raised differently, what’s to say his fate would not be ours? We are all sinners in need of grace. To celebrate or be happy that someone is in hell seems to be the opposite of what Christ taught.

    Reply
    • Nish

      It does seem opposite, doesn’t it? I struggle with it deeply today.

      Reply
    • Amen to that! I am very saddened over the celebration- not for the victory for the US but in the celebration at any loss of life. I had hoped and prayed that more leaders would set the example of falling on their knees in reflective prayer, and leading others to do the same. I am overwhelmed at the responses I saw by people claiming to follow Christ, and even some Pastors. I pray we all engage in reflective prayer and pray for fervently for our nation, this is only one battle, the war is far from over.

      Reply
  56. Eric Malone

    Thanks for the humor Elizabeth, but seriously… what is your criteria for identifying a “God-endorsed” government act and a normal government act? How do you know that the killing of Bin Laden was an act justified by God himself?

    You said “I think we can say that the US military acted as an agent of justice–and that does qualify as the kind of punishment referred to in Romans 13:4″

    How do you know? or is the Military always an agent of justice?

    Reply
  57. Thank you so much Sugar Mama, I appreciate your concern. I want foremost to apologize to you and anyone else here on Deeper Story for causing frustration and coming across as arguing. I want to build up and edify- not be a stumbling block. This is such a wonderful place to read stories of healing, and I would not wish to interfere with that; I respect Nish and her writing and would not dream of offending her or being contentious.

    This is such a sensitive issue, it caused me to want to comment though I rarely comment on blogs, this being my first in several months. Our job is to bring healing and reconciliation to the body not division. Please forgive me for coming across that, I certainly did not write from that place, merely discussion. I pray I did not offend

    God bless,
    Piper

    Reply
  58. Amy

    Reading the comments and this post, as well as the other reactions, as someone who has studied terrorism, and the Middle East (including biblical times), I am struck at just how far removed we are culturally, from both the context of the Bible and the context of terrorism.

    I find it unnerving how it’s so easy, in our Western minds, to look at these two things through the lens of post-modern pacifism and then believe that somehow, these more recent philosophies are indicative of what Christ really said.

    The fact is that despite cherry-picking a verse from Ezekiel, Job, or the Psalms, much of the Old Testament is filled of rejoicing at violence done to others, even the ordered genocide of other peoples, by YHWH. One only need look at the Song of Deborah and see the praise of Jael, who drove a stake into Sisera’s head, after inviting him into her tent by way of deception, to see this kind of thing. And didn’t Miriam gather women, and lead them in singing, dancing, and the playing of timbrels to praise God not only for deliverance from the Egyptians, but the drowning of the hordes of chariots in the Red Sea (or Reed, depending on your translation). Were they wrong? Or how about ritual sacrifices offered to God before going in to battle, to seek YHWH’s blessing?

    How about the early Roman centurions who followed Christ, and were not told to renounce their professions as soldiers? Or when Jesus instructed his disciples to buy a sword?

    There are arguments for both sides, and to be slinging around scripture on Facebook and Twitter and then feeling More-Christian-Than-Thou is counterproductive and ultimately meaningless.

    Bin Laden is dead; it cannot be undone. But terrorism is certainly not over, it began long before bin Laden, and Salafi-inspired terrorism will continue long after. The organization that he founded was built off of the successes and failures of other transnational, asymmetrical groups that preceded it, such as Black September. Bin Laden knew from the beginning he would face death or capture, and therefore al Qaeda was designed to be decentralized, with cells independent of the core leadership, that would function should that fate befall him. Nevertheless, he was a very charismatic, influential leader. The reactions to just his voice by Afghan members of the Northern Alliance back when US and British special forces were pursuing him in 2001 is evidence enough of that. And his escape back then gave a religious, almost cult-like legend to him, that he could escape and survive, though there are rumors that the SAS had closed in on him, but refrained because the US wanted to wait. That bubble has now been burst, and this is an incredible dent to al Qaeda morale, and they lost his operational vision. And though he’s famous for 9/11, he has done much more than that. This very skilled, very dangerous operative will never, ever use his abilities, his influence, his words, and his plans to hurt people ever again. He was someone who spent his every waking moment planning to do that.

    I will say I do not find being glad of that fact to be sinful. I would, having studied and bin Laden and his organization, its franchises, and affiliates, believed that refusing to capture (my preference) or kill him when given the chance to be morally wrong, because that is, frankly, the only way he would have been stopped. That’s someplace where the Pacifists and I will diverge markedly.

    What I do find intriguing is this hand-wringing about looking insensitive to the rest of the world by way of our celebrations. Over there, celebrations of 9/11 including the firing of AK-47′s into the air, dragging effigies through the street and lighting them on fire, setting flags on fire, stomping on them, throwing shoes, burning cars, handing out candy to children, and many other activities that the tame description “celebrating” does not cover.

    Going to Ground Zero, holding candlelight vigils, waving the American flag, singing the national anthem, and tweeting: “We got him!” looks rather tame to nations who are used to far more dramatic demonstrations of jubilation. Looking unchristian to them? I’m not worried.

    Reply
  59. I know I am late posting this but I just wanted to say thank you. In size 100-pt font. Bolded. And underlined, even. :) I told my husband about this site and this post in particular the day I read it and how much it meant to me to read these words amidst the many voices crying out that day. I really, truly appreciate your perspective and your respectful way of interacting with those that disagree. What a valuable community when we can have open discussions about really tough topics that no one fully understands…yet at the end of the day still call each other brother and sister. God is good. Thank you.

    Reply
  60. The celebration by Christians is SERIOUSLY freaking me out. It makes my skin crawl actually. Thanks for being so brave with this…BEST.

    Reply

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