Responding to the Death of Bin Laden

I have seen a huge out pouring of celebration and joy from countless people across Facebook, Twitter, and outside the White House on the news. It rivals the cheering for a Super Bowl or World Series victory celebration. Something about this carnival like atmosphere gives me a certain discomfort and leaves me puzzled.

There are two reasons for my reaction. The first is, I wonder what the response is of the family members of the 2,977 people who were killed by Bin Laden’s followers. I just don’t picture them dancing in celebration and toasting with free beers on the house. The death of Bin Laden is sure to bring back the pain and loss that his heinous actions forced on people. I suspect that for many if not most of those surviving family members, there is a satisfaction, a sense of finality. There is certainly a feeling of a weight being lifted. But joyous, raucous celebration simply doesn’t fit when you have lost a loved one to a murderer. You can’t rejoice. You can give thanks. You take a deep breath. You whisper to those you lost, “rest in peace, we never forgot you. We miss you. We love you.”

My second thought goes to the Lord. How does God want me to react to the death of Bin Laden? I am reminded of Proverbs 24:17-18 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him. I find those words to be about as disconcerting as anything God has said. Part of me wants to rejoice and celebrate. But I have to ask, why does God not want me to rejoice and celebrate when my enemy stumbles and falls? I think that in part is has to do with guarding my heart. To celebrate the fall of my enemy is to put myself in a place where my pride and arrogance can easily overtake me. I must never forget that I was God’s enemy before coming to faith in Christ. Instead of rejoicing over my stumbling and fallen sinfulness, God went to the Cross through Jesus Christ and died for me. God did not rejoice over my fall, but instead suffered on my behalf.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that justice has been served. I find a certain peace and satisfaction that Bin Laden is dead. But you will not find me out cheering and celebrating and dancing. Instead, I think I will be praying for the families who lost those they love that they may find some measure of peace.

32 thoughts on “Responding to the Death of Bin Laden

  1. Lindsay

    All jokes aside…I will be praying for our troops who are still in enemy territory. And for our future. That this death does not bring forth a resurgence of suicide bombers, American POW executions, and other terrorist acts. I have friends and family in Afghanistan, so most fervently, I will be praying for them to make it home safe!

  2. R

    Thanks for writing this. In no way do I condone what happened on 9/11 or want to lessen the wrongdoing that Osama has done but I too have been feeling pretty horrified at all the celebrations today. Osama did not act alone and I don’t think murdering terrorists is an effective way to manage terrorism, so why are we celebrating the death of one of them? Will his death make any difference in the long run? He leaves behind a family and people who vehemently believe that he was doing good. They are now suffering in the loss of their leader. I don’t think anyone should be rejoicing anything, I think instead we should be feeling sad and praying for he and his followers who are so misguided.

  3. Aunt Sharon

    Wow. “Murdering terrorists”? You just slandered the Navy Seals who risked their lives on this operation. When someone is killed in a war, it’s not “murder.”

  4. Dan Lacich

    Rosie, have to agree with Sharon on this point. The killing of Osama is not murder. He declared war on the USA and died in an act of war.

  5. Michael

    I am sure that God allowed the Israelites to cheer when the armies of Pharaoh were crushed by His hand and the Red Sea. One example. I am thankful that God has seemingly allowed our CIA to carry out His right Judgement on UBL in this case; watching the American people cheer is warranted. Thankfully: God has allowed America to watch as He renders judgement on a mutual enemy, this should be a call to repentance for us all. ‘America… if you like how God has brought justice here, imagine when you would be allowed to stand at His right hand as He judges the world as all of His enemies are dealt with.’ I would remind people how to be on His side, in Christ we have the victory and He has given the American people a gift. We should be thankful and also have reverent ‘fear’ for His judgement and know that it is a benefit for those that Love Him. Imagine the vindication and the joy at the coming of the Lord Jesus in that day for His people…

    As that moment at the Red Sea for the Hebrews was a momentary victory, so is this for Us. I pray that God allow those who Love the Lord to gain the ear of the American people in a new way. The Gospel is a Victory given to us as a gift in the life and work of the risen and coming Lord Jesus Christ! This could either be for us a personal Red Sea moment or one from the foot of Sinai. It is up to us to help this life to be an upward exodus and a passage to God’s promise for those that would Love Him. Helping people understand victory over an enemy is an opportunity to share the Gospel. That’s my $.02

  6. Ray

    My thoughts this morning take me back to the Garden of Eden and the Lord’s command to Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

    Each day brings enough trouble of its own. We are besieged with war, famine, disease and pestilence; anger and hatred; abortion and lust; gluttony and pride; envy and strife; death and destruction; pain and despair; fear and depression.

    Yet He loves us, and we see His Redemption in all who love the Lord Jesus.

    Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden so they would not eat from the Tree of Life in their sinful state. Each day’s news brings new knowledge of good and evil throughout the world. We sense evil all around us; even in our own homes, as the evil one seeks to kill and destroy.

    In the storms of life though, we also see Our Savior, living in those who love Him… all who have received His Pardon for disobedience by accepting His Sacrifice on another tree of life, His Cross.

    No one can live the Christian life. Christ living in us is our abundant life and the hope… the glory.

    He lives. I can attest to that; and we shall live with Him forever, free of evil in all its manifestations.

  7. Ray

    The number eight in the Bible has significant meaning.

    It’s interesting that Osama Bin Laden ended his earthly existence 8 years to the day President Bush spoke on the USS Abraham Lincoln under the banner “Mission Accomplished.”

  8. I am glad to read this. It really does bother me that people are SO happy. I was asked last night on the phone if I knew what happened. I responded yes and was asked if I was happy. I said no. I cannot celebrate a lost soul. It’s just not right. Justice was served, i doubt that mean that the heart of God is grieved any less.

  9. Personally, it’s a really fine line that we walk when we start saying there is a WAY to respond to news like that we received last night.

    On one hand, it is a lost soul (I think. Still need to read Love Wins to find out for sure.) and I can’t bring myself to rejoicing that no matter who it is. On the other hand, I feel justified in rejoicing justice like this, not to mention the success & safety of those Navy Seals.

    My problem as I’ve seen people come out on both sides of this issue is who is to judge how others celebrate or if they celebrate at all. Dan, I’m sure there actually were some who lost loved ones on 9/11 who did celebrate and cheer when they heard the news.

    I think it’s sort of a personal deal about how we respond. Clearly that verse in Proverbs and the thought that vengeance is is the Lord’s would lead me to be subdued in my own response. But I can’t put my own convictions, feelings, and emotional responses on other people, because people are in different situations.

    For instance, I just watched the response at the Naval Academy.

    They were downright giddy, and I believe they have a right to be, even the Christian midshipmen. Their shipmates accomplished an extremely difficult mission that they have been working on for nearly 10 years.

    I’m not sure we can just say “This is the Christian response…”

    Just like we all have different spiritual gifts, I think those Christians who have the inclination toward peace to the point of pacifism need to lead us & encourage us to lead peaceful lives. But likewise I think those Christians who have the intense desire to protect the innocent & fight evil need to do so wholeheartedly to the point of celebrating the victories God has given them.

  10. Deantha

    Proverbs 11:10, Psalm 58:10, Deuteronomy 32:43, Exodus 15, 2 Kings 11:20. Perhaps there is a difference between an individual rejoicing in the demise of a personal enemy and a nation rejoicing in the demise of the wicked. The big key is to rejoice in the LORD and not in ourselves. We should rejoice that the Lord, our God continues to bless our nation and will PREVAIL! Our God is THE AWESOME GOD.

  11. Heidi

    I appreciate your comment Storms. God’s creation is great and diverse and His people are gifted with many strengths and talents. The celebration of a dangerous mission accomplished should be able to be felt side by side with the angst over any loss of life. Let’s be slow to judge our various “Peacemakers.” Soldiers and pacifists are both needed for peace to be accomplished.

  12. Dan Lacich

    There may well be a difference between corporate and personal responses. There is also a difference between what the Bible describes and happening, like the city rejoicing over the death of the wicked, and what it commands me to do, love my enemy, don’t gloat over the fall of your enemy, and God in Ezekiel 33:11 saying that He himself does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked because He would rather they had turned and repented.

  13. Dan Lacich

    Yes all kinds of understandable reactions based on situation and temperament. What got me going right away last night was first, people I know who are Christians who were absolutely giddy over this and posted in loud and clear. It just struck me as not fitting with the advancement of the Gospel.

  14. Jordan

    We should be celebrating. I’ve deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, people who refuse to accept help or alter their way of life to better themselves, they prefer to live in the stone age. I’ve watched five friends aged 18-25 go from happy and joking to 30 minutes later being decapitated, dismembered and worse from terrorists and their IED’s, not to mention sacrificed all the hearing in my left ear and other injuries.

    Celebration aside we still have thousands more of these ignorant terrorist cavement to send to hell where they belong.

  15. To be rather obvious about it, Jesus told those who tried to defend him with weapons (when he was taken in the garden) to back off. You can never succeed in killing all the bad guys. You may call it justice, but it doesn’t solve the problem. World War II ended 65 years ago. We still have Nazis. And how’s that ancient tribal conflict in the Middle East going?

    I’m relieved when I have defeated a pneumonia germ that tried to kill me, but I don’t hold a tailgate party to celebrate.

  16. I thought that was a thoughtful and well-written post on the topic and I think that you precisely captured the correct reaction. We should feel satisfaction at the serving of justice but no emotional giddiness about the fact that Osama got killed. The best way for this to play out would be for Osama to repent. Killing him is a second best, better than allowing him to plot more terrorist attacks but not as good as it could be.

  17. NY Mama

    I pray for those who fight in wars they did not start and those who are victims of wars to which they did not even knew they belonged. Just sad all around.

    Friends who have actually lost family in the towers are asking that everyone just shut up about Bin Laden and stop giving him more press than any of the victims ever got.

    May we see His peace in our time.

  18. Diane

    Psalm 35:19 Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies WITHOUT CAUSE; let not those who hate me WITHOUT REASON maliciously wink the eye. I see your point but there are two sides to every story … I still stand by my opinion … (I heard on KLOVE radio today that people were posting verses from both opinions also)

  19. R

    Hi Aunt Sharon and Dan,

    Sorry, wasn’t my intention to slander the Navy Seals at all. I was trying to express my frustration that it takes the loss of a life to stop some sorts of evil. I am sad for those who are at war and I’m sad for those who are in wars. I will continue to disagree with you about death during wars though; I don’t think any loss of human life, whether it be during war or otherwise, is ever justified.

    Just my two cents.


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  22. Dave Hoffner

    Darryl –

    I thought you might also appreciate this quote from MLK –

    I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive our hate: only love can do that.

  23. Michael

    I wonder if Moses felt guilty as he handed Pharaoh the chance to save his own son. After God in Exodus instructed him, Moses warned Pharaoh that God would strike him down, along with every 1st born in Egypt if the Hebrew people were not released… after multiple chances and reversals by Pharaoh. He refused and Pharoah had to taste the sting of God, God knowing that He would rise up His own son, Jesus from the Hebrews one day to die for the whole world’s ‘exodus’ if they would accept Him. God is no hypocrite… God always feels the sorrow in judgement, however if He was allowed to bask in His own glory when the armys of Pharaoh were destroyed in the Red Sea… as a Christian, I trust I can be thankful to God for the death of this ‘Pharaoh-type,’ the criminal-tyrant coward Osama Bin Laden. One American man’s ‘religious’ opinion.

  24. Michael

    Frankly, I find the whole ‘as a Christian, I’m guilty about this victory’ a disease. Be happy for crying out loud. I would imagine if someone stole an osama-weeper’s toy poodle out of his man-purse and threw it into oncoming traffic he or she would want him and his whole people-group to rot in hell. Be realistic here and risk for just a second that this justice could be a gift from God and an opportunity to help us articulate to our countrymen that Jesus will come back as a judge. I hope I am ready for it, I pray that I am. He could come at any time… really. That’s not a threat but a promise.

  25. Dan Lacich

    I don’t feel guilty about this at all. Let me say again, justice has been served and for that I praise the God of justice who punishes sin. What I can’t do is be all giddy and dancing around the streets waving flags. No matter how wicked someone was they are still originally created in God’s image and whenever we kill someone, justified or otherwise, we are doing something that must by it’s very nature be a sobering moment. I have had some communications with a two tour soldier currently back in Afghanistan and his reaction was very informative. The soldiers there have basically said, “ok we got him, good job. Let’s get back to work”. There has been no dancing or flag waving. Their is rather the grim determination that they need to press on in a life and death struggle. In fact he said that his soldiers are a bit hacked that so many people back home are celebrating like this is it and we won and yippee for us. That conversation alone is enough for me to keep my delight turned down a notch or two.

  26. Michael

    Dan, I agree with you. I also know good folks of the first responder type that were permanently effected by 9/11. I haven’t spoken with them but I can only imagine what he/they are feeling as a result. I respect the feelings of your soldier contact for sure. I am thankful to see the statement(s) of thanks to the God of Justice in response to this event. I will agree that as Americans, we need to guard our hearts from even a justified example of God pouring out his Wrath. It is a terrible thing, but part of reality – to have hardness of heart as a result of revelling in this is a real concern for all of us. I can just imagine how folks my age felt after we defeated the ‘Japs’ and the ‘Krauts’ after WW2. War is a terrible thing. I pray that our country can take some relief from this and that those that protect us will stay vigilant. God be with them. I also feel like to some degree as Americans that its in a sense a ‘cry when people are crying, be happy when others are happy’ situation as well. As Americans I will take joy in my God’s work – beyond that this is a sobering example of when the patience of God runs out. May the Church have the Grace to help folks see thier condition before God and turn to Him, beginning with us. The only thing that separates us from the perishing world is Faith, I pray that Christ calls people to Himself through this. Thank you and God Bless, Michael

  27. good post….How do we react to the depravity of sin and its affects on all of creation? should we not delight in God’s justice while at the same time grieving the sin that demands justice?

    But for the Grace of God there go I….

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