“Death of OBL reflects the world’s universal longing for justice. We want a God of love, but we also want a God of justice.”
–Dan Darling via Twitter (@dandarling)
Since the news broke last night about the death of Osama Bin Laden, there has been a flurry of reaction—some patriotic, some celebratory, some hilarious, some warning, and of course, some articulating the “Christian” response to Osama’s death. According to some individuals (who I don’t want to call out and “flame” on this blog post), because Osama Bin Laden was a human being created in the image of God (a fact I don’t dispute), Christians should not be celebrating his death. He was, after all, a human being. In fact, the only “Christian” responses I’ve read on the blogosphere are ones condemning Christians for being happy because, they claim, Jesus would not celebrate Osama’s death.
Honestly, I don’t know what Jesus would have done. While I can’t envision Him dancing around with a flag and a tacky patriotic T-shirt (His allegiance was to God after all, though He did render unto Caesar what was Caesar’s), I also cannot say that Jesus would not approve of Osama’s death. Since there is no actual depiction of Jesus and the death of a human terrorist in the Bible, I guess we’ll just have to divvy up the Bible verses between this side and that and try to make sense of this whole thing.
And that’s the funny part—I’ve got my verses talking about how God hates injustice, my Old Testament stories about how God smite “mighty” tyrants (like how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against God, which I would argue, is probably also the condition of Osama’s heart), and a slew of other Scripture to back up my position. The other side has verses about how Jesus calls us to love our enemy and do good to those who mistreat us, but then again, aren’t we talking about interpersonal conflicts? Jesus also said there would be wars and rumors of war…and He didn’t usher in the peace that everyone was calling for. In fact, He brought a “sword.”
Therefore, I don’t think either side can really lay claim to the biblical position because I’ll match you Bible verse for Bible verse. We can argue this thing all day and all night. So I’m not going to do that. In fact, I’m not even interested in debate. I merely want to say this—to those of you who, like me, are tired of other Christians trying to make you feel guilty for being happy about a very bad man being killed, you are not alone. In fact, you may find much justification for your feelings in Psalms and the Old Testament (which some have conveniently thrust aside).
My breakthrough came from a high school girl named Janette, who tweeted this: “’When the wicked perish there are shouts of joy’ Proverbs 11:10.” She told me that she felt bad about celebrating until she found this verse. Interestingly enough, Janette’s older brother is in the Air Force and has served overseas fighting in the war on terror (or whatever we’re calling it these days.) Despite her family allegiance, she sought a higher allegiance—one to her God.
I am not saying that Janette’s verse or conclusion settles the argument—that would be oversimplifying the whole debate. I am merely pointing out that there is another side to the “Christian” response—one that understands that to bring justice, social or otherwise, evil must be destroyed. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that evil will be destroyed once and for all, but until then, we simply do our best to understand how to live in light of what Scripture and God reveal to us. Unfortunately, we all seem to have varying opinions on what that is. And my opinion is that we Christians can celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, for it is a picture of when our Warrior God will destroy Satan and his legions. One day we Christians will be at a miraculous party, a wedding feast, for the royal union of Christ and His Church—after He vanquishes the villains. Now that’s something worth celebrating.
Here’s a post my grad school professor, Dr. Phil Monroe (call him “Dr. Phil”) wrote titled, “What is the proper response to Bin Laden’s death?” I believe that Dr. Phil and I are saying the same thing, but being as he’s highly intelligent and much more eloquent, so he says it minus my tongue-in-cheek.
On a completely different note…I can’t help but sharing some of the funny (and touching) Tweets I’ve read about the death of OBL in the same post. I don’t want to overplay the “Osama is dead” thing, so you get a mixture of both sides of my personality in one bite.
In no particular order, here we go:
@Reuters: U.S. official says loss of OBL puts al Qaeda on path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.
@jaykrul: The joy is not that he is in hell but that he can’t destroy other peoples’ lives.
@jimmyfallon: Got Bin Laden AND interrupted Celebrity Apprentice? Win for Obama all around.
While waiting for the President to officially announce OBL’s death @jenbjones said “News folks are now reading tweets to stall for time. All they had to do was ask me to sing. I have numbers ready just for times like this…” To which I asked what number she had prepared. Jenny’s response, “I’d do my Born in the USA/Material Girl mash-up. It’s only half relevant, but the costume is very sparkly.” (Read her blog at JennyBJones.com. She’s a laugh riot!)
@amysondova I might just unfollow the next person who tries to make me feel guilty for being happy about the death of a VERY BAD man. (That’s me and I think I’m funny because a lot of people RT’d this!)
@KatDuncanPhoto: Obama didn’t address speculation that bin Laden was killed by a blue bird that turned into 3 blue birds just before hitting the compound. (Angry Birds game referece)
@AmandaStratton: The girl married her Prince. The bad guy is dead. It’s a real Disney weekend here on Earth.
@ArizonaNewsnet: Historical note: Hitler death announcement also came on May 1 (1945).
@nimprojects: Is Obama also going to announce who got fired on Celebrity Apprentice?
I can’t find the Tweet, but Harry Potter nerds all over the place will appreciate this one (paraphrased): “Apparently Obama’s birth certificate was Obama Bin Laden’s final horcrux.”
Tweeted on Monday afternoon–@owlcity: Wait, what? Did you guys hear what happened to #Osama???????
So, what’s your response to Osama’s death (without getting too heady)? What’s your favorite Tweet or something funny you heard? And what do you think about the U.S. burying OBL at sea at 2 AM Monday morning–does that scream conspiracy theory to you?
20 thoughts on “Why Christians Can “Celebrate” Osama’s Death”
My heart tells me that jumping around in celebration does not fit. A quiet sigh of relief works better and another opportunity to remember those many people who died on 911 and all who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Carol, I do agree. I think it’s good to define “celebrate” and also to remember what it means to each person. Although I do think the revelers aren’t so much celebrating the death of OBL as a human being, but as an ideology of hate.
I don’t know how I feel, to be quite honest. And I dislike people telling others how they should or shouldn’t feel. bin Laden was buried so quickly because of Muslim custom that says one needs to be buried the same day they die. I’m not sure about the whole burial at sea part, though.
I did agree with Keith Olbermann who said that Obama had better be coming up with the long form death certificate!
I’m not a Harry Potter fan, so I guess that’s probably why the “Obama bin Laden” isn’t funny to me and frankly rather sick.
I am not and won’t be celebrating his death – and that’s just my understanding of Christian faith (that’s not meant to sound demeaning or like your ideas are wrong – it’s simply my understanding).
I am absolutely OK with people not agreeing w/ me. In fact, I just said to someone that “celebrate” may have been strong wording, though I don’t mind those who do…or choose not to. I do mind those who are trying to FORCE me to feel one way or another.
I agree that there’s no way to “win” an argument about how we should feel, and I absolutely believe we need to back off trying to force each other to feel the “right” way. We all process differently, and I think you express how you feel very well.
As for me… well… I’m conflicted. I want to be thrilled, but I can’t find it in me. I mostly feel sad that the world is so broken these things happen at all.
Still processing. Thanks for your thoughtful explanation.
On a side note, I did smile at that picture you posted. Yeah, the birth certificate is a really big deal now, huh? 🙂
Jen, thanks for the comment. Wars make me sad. I haven’t been jumping up and down, but I live in PA and have been to NYC/DC quite a bit. 9/11 seared the North East, so I understand why people celebrate. I think it’s like when we cheer when the bad guy gets killed in a movie, though this is real life, we have a sense of justice…we just wish justice didn’t come at so high a price.
To everyone, I really appreciate your comments, polite disagreements and the like…thank you for keeping it civil and genuine.
I will not celebrate in bin Laden’s death. I will not rejoice in it. The taking of a human life is evil, plain and simple. It is also, at times, necessary, as I believe it to have been here. So while I will not celebrate, I will also defend the actions taken by our government to my dying breath. It was a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless. May God have mercy on his soul.
I am not “celebrating”, but praising God for what He has accomplished. We would do good to remember that God had all of this in His hands.
I really appreciate this post Amy. As a Christian, I was very happy when I heard the news, and then I started wondering that even God loved Osama because he created him. I was so torn as to how I should feel and getting really worried that I was happy about him being gone. Your post is so true and honest- there are so many Bible verses for every emotion that people feel in this situation. Thanks.
I agree with your blog. I think many people were happy that such an evil person was gone and could do no more harm to others.
I think his death is just more symbolic of the war between good and evil. He had a time to repent but unfortunately a man like him never knew God.
I consider this a great victory for the War on Terror. And I am tired of people telling me I should feel guilty for being happy that he’s gone.
Also, here’s one funny comment someone made on Facebook:
“People should speak good of the dead. Osama is dead. GOOD!”
1. I responded to Osama’s death in an article for the organization I’m interning with. http://youthjournalisminternational.blogspot.com/2011/05/praise-navy-seals-for-bin-laden-raid.html
2. I don’t have a favorite Tweet about Osama’s death but I found it amusing that a number of people were tweeting about super injunctions and Osama. They were saying that Osama took out a super injunction so that no one could say where he was. I do have a favorite article re. his death: http://www.crosswalk.com/news/is-god-glad-bin-laden-is-dead.html
3. I am sure the US have good reasons for burying Osama in the sea at 2AM. Firstly, for the Muslims, a dead person has to be buried before the sun sets or if that isn’t possible, within 24 hours. Hence, I think, the 2AM timing. Secondly, burying Osama in the ground would only cause his followers to turn the burial plot into a terrorist shrine. Burying in the sea is the best option since burying in the group is not an option and it is considered taboo to the Muslims to cremate a body. Thirdly, the faster they get rid of his body, the better.
Just my thoughts.
I find it amazing that people are actually condemning bin Laden to hell. Saying “he never knew God”. Only God can speak to this man’s heart and what’s happened over the last ten years.
Proverbs 11:10 is an observation, not a command. Here is a command: Proverbs 24:17 “DO NOT gloat when your enemy falls: when they stumble do not let your heart rejoice”
‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…Ezekiel 33:11
Whitney, Lisa, Nisha, NLASmith, thank you for your comments! Yeah, I don’t think it’s happiness for the death of a human, but a sense that EVIL has been destroyed. The more I think about it, the more I realize it’s a symbolic death.
Evangeline (Sugarpeach) That is some excellent work! Thank you for all those links. I was thinking that perhaps Osama’s followers would view the USA having the body as some sort of “action” and perhaps endanger more lives in some attempt to retrieve it. Also, allow the media to examine the body would also be a security nightmare. 🙂
Kenny, I cannot discern whether or not Osama was in hell or whether or not he knew God. From his actions, I think he probably wasn’t a Jesus-loving guy. But my use of Proverbs 11:10 was to illustrate how a girl came to find comfort in her celebration of justice, not to make an argument. I will not engage in matching you verse for verse because there are other verses that talk about joy in the wicked stumbling.
Fantastic post. I loved how you show both sides. I especially loved the horcrux joke.
Christians should desire all to be saved, but also not be afraid to be thankful when the wicked perish. Using this opportunity to come together as a nation is important!
Thanks for a beautifully written and well-reasoned post!
Thank you so much, Cyndi!
I agree with you, Amy. I mean, the al-Qaedans will do anything to get back Osama, dead or alive. If he had been arrested, I don’t want to imagine the chaos and danger that would bring. His dead body is one dead body that is worth a lot.
I know I am way behind on this “news”. I feel that all this news coverage is fueling publicity and possibly another attack from unknown cells. I feel that the focus now should be on tightening security. If he wasn’t ready to surrender then his plans aren’t over. So we can’t celebrate anyway. I think it was mentioned on the news that he had other cells in place. Who knows its all so scary.