Am I Glad that Osama Bin Laden is Dead? Should I Be?

I admit that I am. My emotional response is satisfaction with touches of pleasure that he was killed by Navy SEALS. But should I be? A friend pointed me to Ezk. 18:23, "'Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?' says the Lord God, 'and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'"

While I certainly agree that it would have been better for Bin Laden to turn from his ways and repent, that was highly unlikely. Still, am I wrong to take pleasure in Bin Laden's death? I saw this article by theologian John Piper, showing that there are verses on the other side of the coin, suggesting that God does take satisfaction in the judgment and punishment of the wicked. For example, Deut. 28:63, "And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess."

Here is how Piper puts it together:

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.

Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory.

Whether we should take pleasure in it or not, I do not see a strong argument against President Obama's decision to proceed with the operation and its objective to kill or capture Bin Laden:

But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for [the government] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
Rom. 13:4.


Janell Price said…
Good article! It is proper to ask these questions and search the scriptures for God's perspective. Here's another good article by Stephen Simpson:
Henotheist11 said…
It seems like there are both things to rejoice over and to grieve over in this case. It is always sad when a human life is lost (and in this case it was lost spiritually well before death), but think of all the good that comes out of this: the cause of terrorism is thwarted, at least to a certain extent, the victims of 9/11 receive some measure of satisfaction, Americans rekindle the sense of unity they had at 9/11, the moral victory for the West, etc. It's like Galadriel said in "Lord of the Rings": in all the lands love is now mingled with grief. Pleasure there is in hearing the news of Obama's demise, but it is a bittersweet one because it also brings to mind all that he destroyed.
I had the same misgivings about the joy people were expressing. It had to be done and I'm glad they got him. It would have been better if he had repented, become a Christian and said "sorry I did 9/11" but...given the unrealistic nature of that senerio this is really the way it had to work out.
Jason Pratt said…
I regret only three things:

(1) that he hadn't yet repented and come to do better before he was slain (it would have made so much of a difference in other people's lives as well as his own);

(2) that other people had to suffer and die in order to bring him down (including the woman who was with him when they shot him);

(3) that it had to take so long to remove him.

Other than that I'm very glad! Thanks be to all those who cooperated together, risking their own lives, to help bring an end in this age to his impenitent deeds: sending him on to be called at last before the throne of Justice!

Having said all that, as a Christian universalist I'll also add that I still hope in Christ for Osama's repentance and reconciliation to God--and someday for his reconciliation with the people he has sinned against, too. (As well as his reconciliation someday with any people who sinned against him!) Enemy though he was to us (and I well remember my grief and rage when I thought he might have led to the fear and death of the one I love most in the world), God gave His own life for Bin Ladin's sake, as much as for any of us, myself included.

May love then be fulfilled in justice for and with our enemy, even for him!--in the Day of the Lord to come if not before.


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