"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Christian Response to the Death of Osama Bin Laden

"But I tell you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Mt. 5:44

When thinking about what I would write, the concept of loving your enemy was prominent in my mind. But it wasn't until I looked up the passage cited above that I remembered Christ added the addendum "pray for those who persecute you."

Osama bin Laden is responsible for the deaths of many people in the West and from various statements, we can deduce he would not have minded being responsible for more. I don't know if you want to say that he was the face of evil, but he was a mastermind of terrorism. Bin Laden was a bad man. Calling a spade "a spade" is not something to be feared. Indeed, the concept of justice and its execution ought to be celebrated.

But here a crucial distinction needs to be made. Suitable punishment is different from rejoicing in a human's downfall. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would say "the only peace we have is that he is definitely not in heaven." I sincerely hope that bin Laden met the Divine Mercy in some moment before his judgement. In fact, I prayed for it. Because as Jesus said, we pray for those who persecute us. Further, any Christian who has read these words of Christ needs to be praying for other Christians who are struggling with hatred. We all have sins with which we struggle-judgement of their small-mindedness is not becoming.

But as we pray, it must be noted that we fail at being Christians the moment we celebrate the death of someone who has done us evil. If the commandment given in the sermon on the mount was not enough to drive us to our knees to beg for mercy on bin Laden's soul, the example Christ set certainly should. For it was on his cross, bleeding and dying for the people who betrayed him, that Christ prayed for those who persecuted him. "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing."

Violence never breaks the cycle of violence, nor hatred of hatred. I don't mind saying the terrorist got what he deserved, but it is outside the realm of Christianity to be happy that he is dead. And it is bizzarely inhuman to rejoice at the prospect that he is in Hell.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Billy. The very nature of our faith demands a different response to the death of another human, but our sinful nature makes it difficult to do.