Monday, May 2, 2011

How Should Christians Respond to Bin Laden's Death?

Okay, in the one instance where my lack of watching TV left me unaware, I walked into work THE ONLY person to not know Bin Laden was killed yesterday in Pakistan by U.S. forces. My reaction: first, shock. Second, elation. Yeah, that's right, I said it, elation. I waddled my way over to my coworkers, with a full cheesy smile on my face, proud that the jerk was dead.

The names of the dead at a 9-11 Memorial in Essex County, NJ.

I still remember 9-11. It was such a beautiful day, the sky perfectly clear. I was 1 19 year old college junior, and just as the first plane struck, I was standing in a massive line trying to buy books at the University Bookstore. The radio was on, and the DJ broke into the oldies music to deliver the shocking news... news so shocking, it didn't register with me. It wasn't until I walked into the freshman center where I worked, and saw my bosses' faces awash with fear that it hit me. And that feeling- of sheer chaos, worry, anxiety- still haunts me. I remember throwing my old school Nokia in my purse when my reception suddenly disappeared. The feeling of frustration upon learning I had no way home since NJ Transit had halted all bus and train service. And then looking up and seeing- and smelling- the smoke wafting across the river from Manhattan to Jersey.

All of those feelings flooded back when I learned of Bin Laden's death. And to be honest, I don't feel sad. Not at all. Nope, happiness remains. But as a Christian, and not just a still frightened Jersey girl, am I right to feel this way? According to the Rev. James Martin, not so much. From HuffPo:

"As someone who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks following 9/11 I rejoiced to hear that Osama Bin Laden's long reign of terror, which had dealt death, destruction and untold misery to millions across the world, had finally come to an end. As a Christian, though, I cannot rejoice at the death of a human being, no matter how monstrous he was.

On the morning of Sept. 11 2001, I was working at my desk at America magazine in Manhattan. My mother, who lives in Philadelphia, called me to tell me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. When I ran out of my office and looked down Sixth Avenue, I could see the towers smoldering, inky black smoke pouring out of their tops. Already sirens were blaring, and men and women were running through the streets weeping, frantically trying to make calls on cell phones to loved ones. 

.. I am not blind to the death and destruction caused by Osama bin Laden.

Yet Christians are in the midst of the Easter Season, when Jesus, the innocent one, not only triumphantly rose from the dead but, in his earthly life, forgave his executioners from the cross, in the midst of excruciating pain. Forgiveness is the hardest of all Christian acts. (Love, by comparison, is easier.) It is also, according to Jesus, something that is meant to have no limit. No boundaries. Peter once asked him how often he was supposed to forgive. Seven times? "Not seven times," answered Jesus, "but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." In other words, times without number. "Forgive your brother or sister from your heart," he said. Judgment and punishment, says Jesus, is up to God.
So the question is whether the Christian can forgive a murderer, a mass murderer, even -- as in the case of Osama bin Laden -- a coordinator of mass murder across the globe. I'm not sure I would be able to do this, particularly if I had lost a loved one. But as with other "life" issues, we cannot overlook what Jesus asks of us, hard as it is to comprehend. Or to do.
For this is a "life" issue as surely as any other. The Christian is not simply in favor of life for the unborn, for the innocent, for those we care for, for our families and friends, for our fellow citizens, for our fellow church members or even for those whom we consider good, but for all. All life is sacred because God created all life. This is what lies behind Jesus's most difficult command: "I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." ...

Osama bin Laden was responsible for the murder thousands of men and women in the United States, for the deaths and misery of millions across the world, and for the death of many servicemen and women, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. I am glad he has left the world. And I pray that his departure may lead to peace. 

But as a Christian, I am asked to pray for him and, at some point, forgive him. And that command comes to us from Jesus, a man who was beaten, tortured and killed. That command comes from a man who knows a great deal about suffering. It also comes from God."

He's right of course. But for today, as pathetic as it might be, I'm going to be elated. Pray for me, folks. To read the whole article, click here.


Don said...

I am probably one of the few people in the world who didn't feel anything towards hearing of Bin Laden's death.

I honestly thought the man had died a long time ago. Well, before now, put it that way.

Anonymous said...

How bout he never really existed? CIA invention... Think about it, dont let the system get ya

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