May 18, 2011

Is It Wrong to Celebrate Bin Laden's Demise?

It was nearly a day later that I learned world enemy #1 was permanently restrained from orchestrating anymore death, and despair on innocent men, women and children. My first words were, "Thank you Lord" and frankly, I was happy.

As the day progressed I was following threads on Facebook from Christians who stated they were "okay" with the military use of force, but were struggling with the appropriateness of "celebrating" Bin Laden's demise. I determined more than a Facebook sound bite was necessary.

Since God has revealed Himself to us through His word, we come to know what God is like; not in totality of course, God is too big for that. Still, we become acquainted with what pleases Him as well as what angers Him and we begin to adopt His values.

This means that in the life-long process of learning His values, we will "like" what He likes and "dislike" what he dislikes. This is the inevitable outcome of having been created in His image and likeness.

In the glimpses of His personality and character, we see a God who despises injustice, and abhors wickedness. He is clearly angered by the wanton destruction of those who bear His image and likeness, decreeing that anyone who so defiles the "image of God" must pay for it with their own life. This is why the decree of capital punishment--even while applied imperfectly--is not the result of a vindictive Deity, but a merciful one who knows that there are certain brands of wickedness that cannot be placated, or rehabilitated, only removed.

As I monitored Facebook throughout the day, the comments became increasingly grating suggesting that any expression of relief, gratitude, or thankfulness were equivalent to the celebrations which took place in the Middle East after the Twin Towers fell. Some sanctimoniously insisted we should even be mourning.

Then, in predictable fashion, of the more than 31,000 verses in the Bible, 2 verses were posted bearing little relevance to the news concerning the demise of the world's most notorious murderer.

The verses were Proverbs 24:17-18: "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."

Unfortunately, with equal validity, someone else could have posted-- "The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance…and men will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth!" (Psalms 58:10-11)

Confusing? Not really--"Truth" by cherry-picking verses here and there is rarely truthful. God did not throw a mass of unrelated sentences onto the pages of a book saying, "Now make sense of them however it happens to be convenient." As I state frequently from my pulpit, you have to let the Bible interpret the Bible.

On balance, what we know is that God prompts the faithful throughout the ages to long with anticipation; to embrace a day of justice when every wrong shall be righted and yes, to celebrate. It is one of the promises of the Christian's future.

So if one insists it is improper for people to experience joy through an earthly taste of heavenly justice, then one must insist it is improper for people to experience remorse when they taste earthly injustice, and that simply is not consistent with the revealed character of God.

So while it is true that the news of Bin Laden's death prompted some demonstrations of emotion that were probably not honoring to a God of mercy and love, impugning everyone who says, "Thank you Lord, I am glad he is gone," only demonstrates one's failure to understand the whole counsel of God's word, and perhaps worse, denies the very heart and mind of God.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wondered what your opinion of the death of Osama Bin Laden would be. Here it is in black and white. I cannot quote the Bible to decide for myself whether it is "right" or "wrong" to celebrate it. I do know I still have the question, what human being has the right to kill another, whether he be evil or not. I'm not sure how I feel; I'm torn. Truthfully, my thought was take him alive and make him suffer. Then I thought "that's not very 'Christian-like'. But define 'Christian-like'...I end up having more questions than answers. I do thank you for your opinion/statement on your blog. There is much to consider here.

10:21 AM  

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