I was glad that justice had been done and I am happy that Bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States. But at the same time I was bothered that lives, including Bin Laden’s, were taken in the process. My theology teaches me that all human beings are created in the image of God and have inherent dignity and worth. Whenever a human being dies in this way it is a tragedy.
I was thus bothered even more by the way in which Americans celebrated Bin Laden’s death. Some of the celebratory displays on college campuses and elsewhere brought back memories of people in the Middle East celebrating the 9-11 attacks. We condemned such behavior then, but seem to be engaging in the same behavior now.
I have found the thoughts of several writers to be helpful as I have tried to process Bin Laden’s death. A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. has been making it around the web today:
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.
And then there is this quote from the Vatican:
In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.
One of the best Christian reflections on Bin Laden’s death comes from Christian writer Gideon Strauss, CEO of the Center for Public Justice. Here is a taste of his piece in Christianity Today:
Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
A lot to think about. Let the conversation commence…