A Christian Who Is Glad Osama Bin Laden is Dead

Late on May 1, 2011, President Barak Obama announced to the nation that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.  As a Christian, as an American, as a human I rejoice.  Yes, I rejoice.  Many of you join with me in this sentiment.  However several in the Christian community have taken to social network sites to reprimand this rejoicing.

I understand the motivation of these critics.  On many, many things I would agree with them.  On this I disagree.  The rationale of these critics have made their argument based in part on Proverbs 24:7.

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,(Proverbs 24:17 ESV)

If we stopped at this point, I would have to agree with the critics.  However, the context adds some clarity.

Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them,

for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,

for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth.

Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer.

The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;

hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”

does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,

and will he not repay man according to his work?

My son, eat honey, for it is good,

and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.

Know that wisdom is such to your soul;

if you find it, there will be a future,

and your hope will not be cut off.

Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;

do no violence to his home;

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,

but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,

and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,

lest the LORD see it and be displeased,

and turn away his anger from him.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers,

and be not envious of the wicked,

for the evil man has no future;

the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

My son, fear the LORD and the king,

and do not join with those who do otherwise,

for disaster will arise suddenly from them,

and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

(Proverbs 24:1-22 ESV)

It seems to me that the full chapter presents a clearer picture of our response to men like Bin Laden than does lifting one verse out of it without regard for the context.  Bin Laden did not stumble.  He was killed.

How about this proverb?

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.

(Proverbs 11:10 ESV)

I’m not sure what they do with this passage.  Bin Laden was wicked.  He perished (both physically and spiritually).  The result is shouts of gladness.

Here are some of the other arguments sent my way via social media.

1.  Gloating celebration of a soul you know is now in Hell is not ok for any believer. Being relieved justice is served is different.

See Proverbs 11:10 above.

2.  There is a fine line between celebrating the awesome weight of justice and the terrible glee of a image of God eternally lost.

Well, “terrible glee” maybe.  But glee and gladness are very similar words.  If so, see Proverbs 11:10.

A note on the image of God statement.  Yes, it is tragic that somebody created in the image of God has that image so marred that he is responsible for thousands of deaths of others created in the image of God.  Of all of the death penalt y crimes in the Old Testament, the one that both supersedes Moses’ law and exists after Moses is that of murder.  God first gave this penalty to Noah and Romans 13 reenforces it.

I am also glad that Adolph Hitler is dead.  If I could change anything about his death, it would be that it would have occurred prior to 6 million Jews and many more had been slaughtered by him.

The same goes for Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and others like them.

3.  Am I equating the United States with God’s nation?

No, I am not.  However, it is possible to be both an enemy of the United States and be an enemy of God.  Bin Laden clearly was an enemy of America.  He declared war on our nation with the attacks of 9-11 or perhaps with attacks before that.

As a militant Islamic terrorist, Bin Laden was also an enemy of the gospel.  He was also an enemy of a just society.  Attacking non-combatants in the World Trade Center and in other places makes him an enemy.

No other method of bringing this man to justice has worked.  He had to be taken out.  Since our military did the honors, then we should rejoice.  As it was said of David:

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

–1 Samuel 29:5 ESV

This was said of David in singing and dancing.  It was a celebratory thing.  Gladness.  Rejoicing.  So clearly there have been times when God’s people have rejoiced at that death of the wicked enemy.

To my friends who disagree, I understand that your disagreement arises from Christian charity.  I will not belittle that.  However, Romans 13 teaches us that God gives us government to execute God’s wrath on the men like Bin Laden.

For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

–Romans 13:5

I hope this helps my critics see that my response is not just a red-blooded American with a holier-than-thou attitude.  You are welcome to comment below whether you agree or disagree.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Bret Teegarden

    Very well researched and your points are well thought out. I rejoice with you.

    • Thanks, Bret. It’s always great to have you around here.

    • Beverly Hoover

      Bret, I sure do like your comment.

    • I disagree, strongly but also respectfully.

      Any biblical and/or Christian response to Bin Laden’s death that fails to mention Jesus and his command to love your enemy is not well-researched nor well thought out.

      How can we — as Christians — respond to this incident and fail to mention the Christ?

      • Ben, thank you for your response. You have stated your case well even though you take me to task. I respect that.

        Failing to mention Jesus’ command to love your enemy was not an oversight. The early responses that I saw and interacted with did not have this command as a basis. I probably should have included it in my article.

        As an individual Christian I am not to hate my enemies nor put them to death. Yet God did ordain government to do so to protect society.

        As far as failing to mention the Christ…well, let me put it this way. Truth that is Christian is found in all Scripture, not just in the gospels. I learn much from the gospels and I learn much from the rest of the Bible. This is the pattern used by Jesus himself. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” The words of the 2nd person of the trinity are no more true than the words of the 1st person. Both are mighty.

  • Beverly Hoover

    Frank, right on dude!!!!! As a true CHRISTIAN myself, this article is perfect. If you get any rude, or hateful comments, the only true CHRISTIAN response is: God bless you, because the ones that spew “hate” for this article while surely need it.

    • Beverly, glad to have you check in here. I haven’t gotten a “Right on dude” compliment in a long, long time.

  • Frank,
    I suspect we should rejoice in justice executed by the powers in place to keep our world from spiraling out of control. That seems to be the purpose for governments in Romans. Your reference to Romans cuts both ways. When a despot determines his own brand of justice he may kill innocents to maintain his power and control thereby ensuring a “form” of order. We do not rejoice in this. In fact, we supply arms, expertise and lay claim to helping toward overthrow and democracy – and if not that then someone more palatable in place. However, Paul did not afford us the luxury of choosing which form of government was God ordained but that government keeps us from overstepping individual boundaries to the point of anarchy. I find it far better to applaud the execution of justice from the standpoint of citizenship in the world community.

    As to our, Christian “rejoicing,” I suspect you may have a point about Proverbs. Although, I am confident an argument could be made from the pattern of Wisdom literature that often the thoughts as we have them are not as connected in a chapter as, say, the narrative of Luke’s Gospel. But, another reference is Ezekiel and God not delighting in the death of the wicked is sure worth noting.

    I am not making a case that we should not be glad the world is rid of an evil. But, there is a difference between gladness and glee in my estimation.

    Jesus seems to set it straight for us. His reference that an “eye for an eye” should be viewed much deeper when considering the repayment of evil. He also charts a different course when we confront our enemies. Surely we cannot split Jesus’ hairs as to our own actions in the face of evil. Should God use the US to bring justice to Bin Laden, then that is his purview. But, ours is to pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us.

    Rejoicing over the death of the wicked does seem to be more for our civic sensibilities than our Jesus-y ones.

    I guess my chief concern is the inability of some to “not” see this as a means to justify there own personal decisions regarding enemies and Christ-following.

    But – as always, you provoketh much thought.

    Peace, friend.
    Todd

    • Todd, I hear what you are saying. I am to love my enemies. However, Romans 13 does indicate that as ministers or servants of God, God works through governments to execute his wrath. When an ungodly despot is in rule, then that government has failed as a minister of God and will be accountable to him for that.

      As to Proverbs, I agree that typically the sayings are not connected like in a gospel account. There are exceptions and Proverbs 24 is thematically linked throughout.

      You are on target with your chief concern. I would caution however that because some might use this to justify their own decisions, that should not prevent us from stating what might be abused.

      • Frank,
        And, when God executes his wrath those same Scriptures tie that to his “emotional” projections. Vengeance, wrath is his, it is not to be for my “enjoyment.” So, if we want to affirm God will execute his justice, then that is fine. But, to rejoice in another’s death just does not comport with Jesus – as far as I read the Scriptures.

        Proverbs are just that. While they may be tied thematically, I would still contend the nature of the genre may make for similar themes but are not necessarily tied to via the kind of explanations we would offer in another genre of Scripture. I am not willing to make this a matter of “grand” debate. But, to note we must take care in how hard we press the given texts from that framework.

        From the standpoint of pastoring, I certainly want to press the point ensuring what we ought avoid in relationship to others. That, Paul notes in Galatians, is the Law of Christ. And, I would add that while the admonition to avoid abuse is important, it must be established that it is indeed abuse. In this instance, I am not convinced.

        • Todd, pastorally you are right on. Excesses and abuses exist around every kernel of truth, and a pastor must guard against these. But with exposing the excesses, the right way is to be shown.

          “Enjoyment” – that’s not the word I used. I would prefer gladness. Glad that someone responsible for murdering the innocent will do so no more.

          I never thought I would convince you. We’ve known each other far to long to think that. 🙂

          • Frank,
            “that someone responsible for murdering the innocent will do so no more” – for that I am glad too.

  • Jan

    Frank,
    I am a Christian and I did and do feel great relief, and yes, happiness over the fact that Osama Bin Laden is dead. I spent a long and mostly sleepless night last night wondering how I could justify that elation when it goes against my beliefs. But does it? Yes, I am sure the Lord loved Bin Laden just as He loves us all. However it is noteworthy that you can love someone and still not approve of their behavior. Last night I found a reference in Deuteronomy 17:12 that sort of made me feel some better. “Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel.” In this case I think we can substitute “the world” for “Israel.” I have been termed “hypocrite” by fellow Christians today for the way I feel, but if that be the case, well then, so be it. I am glad that such an evil man is dead. Furthermore I am so very proud to be both a Christian and an American, and feel very blessed by God to be allowed to live in a land that stands for freedom. God Bless You for what you wrote. It helps me, perhaps tonight I will sleep.

    • Jan, sleep well.

      • Jan

        Thank you Frank. Somehow, tonight, I believe I will.

  • NCristina

    FINALLY! An argument that makes sense!!!

  • Paul

    Hey Frank,

    I know I’m a little late to the dance, but wanted to ask, did you happen to see Al Mohler’s article on this subject? I thought his was a really good response.

    Here’s my fear in all of this: I see a lot of my friends who are joyful about this more for nationalistic reasons than a larger concern that justice has prevailed in the world. By the way, I DON’T see that in what you’ve written here. Just saying I see it.

    I think there can be a sense of both/and in this debate, but I think both perspectives need to be “chastened” perspectives. For instance, I’m not sure “joy” is the proper response to the news about bin Laden. I think there are a lot of problematic things with associating his death with David’s military victories and Israel’s dancing in the streets. I think, as Christians, we must challenge ourselves to view these events, first and foremost, as Christians and only secondarily as Americans. I think the better question than what David or Israel did somewhere in the past would be, knowing what we know about God, what would His perspective be regarding the death of bin Laden?

    And here’s what I think: bin Laden was not only an enemy of America. He was also an enemy of Christ and his church. In that sense, that justice has been served, that innocents will no longer be his victims, that one who made himself a great enemy of God’s kingdom has been proven to be powerless in the face of the King and his kingdom, we can be thankful. However, that a soul has been lost, that the opportunity for God’s grace to break through even that hardest of hearts, and that a way of showing the world that evil and violence are overcome more beautifully through the radical nature of God’s kingdom where enemies are loved, cheeks are turned and blessings are returned for curses than with bullets and blood should be a matter of sadness for every Christian. So I’m thankful yet saddened.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for sharing yours!

    • Paul, great comment. We may have a degree of disagreement, but I love the perspective.

  • Jeff

    I’ve been scanning these comments and was involved with Pastor Tim’s posting.

    I say let God work through governments to execute His wrath. As Christians we are supposed to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and secondly love our neightbors as ourselves. As individuals we can be contented knowing that justice was served, but that’s about it, no dancing in the streets or posting online that you’re glad he’s dead: that’s just simply insensitive and capricious. I’m quite disappointed in ANY Christian, if they can be called that, that would behave in this manner.

    Lastly, if the government turns fachist, i would say that nation should begin fearing a coming judgement from God.

    • Jeff,

      I am glad you have posted your comments here. Obviously, you were not the only one to disagree with my take on the subject. However, you are the first to subtly question whether I am a Christian or not. I am not sure how you define a Christian, but it must not be the same way the Scriptures define one.

      I am in agreement that we should let God work through governments to execute his wrath. I did not shoot Bin Laden. It was our government that took the deadly action. Am I glad that God worked through them to bring about justice? Yes.

      As to whether we can be more than content and actually glad, what do you do with Proverbs 11:10? As a Christian, I try to take God’s word as a basis for my actions. You might think it does not apply here (which I would disagree), but to question my standing in Christ really doesn’t seem to be loving your neighbor quite so well. My comments are not heretical. In fact, they are based on my desire to be true to God’s word.

      Others have disagreed with me and we still count each other as dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I wish you had taken the same path.

      You characterized my comments as insensitive and capricious. That begs the question, “Insensitive to whom?” The terrorists? I still stand by what I wrote, so I don’t think the capricious charge stands either.

      I’m not sure what the comment about the government turning fachist (sic) really means here.

      In the end, I welcome you here and hope that we can spur each other into an ever increasing love for God and for our neighbor.

      • Jeff

        Thanks for the quick reply. I really do not know where to start here.

        It clearly states in the new testament that the two most important commandments are we are to love God and secondly to love others. What you do in your own heart and in your own home are your business, but they should of course be according to God’s word. If anything you say in public causes another believer to stumble, then perhaps your actions are a little insensitive and capricious? Would you not agree? In fact, I belong to a southern Baptist church in my community and they were pretty much disgusted with reports like yours, others, and with the photos displayed by the media of crowds celebrating bin Ladens death (these crowds may or may not include professing Christians). Of course, I am a Canadian and we’re pretty much easy come easy go. When I see Chritian’s behaving in this manner (words and/ or actions celebrating bin Laden’s death) and worst, those pictures taken by many news agencies (CBC, BBC, CNN, Al Jaseera, etc.), I cannot help but to question motives. Could it be that you’re mixing Christianity with the pride and huberus of an American? My questioning your status as a believer is allowed here because I do think i have validity scripturally, i’m merely iron sharpening your iron.

        re: relying solely on old testament, by the same token is it ok to commit genocide? After all, that was God’s commandment of Israel when they entered the promised land? What about Israel exiting Egypt, how is that submitting to authority? Note: i say these rhetorically.

        I say capricious because your post, i think, was the day following all of those photos. Either you had really bad timing or it was purposed in such a way, regardless it was capricious.

        My comment regarding fachism was made because that is what your government, that many are so proud of, has become and the main reason why I left the US; I could not stand it any longer. I still love to shop there, however…

        😉

        Maybe you should stick to acting? Are you they guy that played Q on star trek?

        Jeff

        • Jeff, I will try to answer your comments in the order you presented them:

          1. The 2 NT commandments are a summation of all that the Bible teaches (including the OT). My response fits within these commands. My love for my neighbor includes those who have had their lives ripped apart by a terroristic murderer. If he were still living, even more of my neighbors would undoubtedly face the same.

          2. My comments were based upon God’s word. I’m not sure how you can read the article and not agree with that. You might think that I have not accurately reflected the Word, but that is far different than ignoring it.

          3. Your comments are also public. To question my Christianity is probably more of a stumbling block than what you propose. Just who have I caused to stumble?

          4. So you and your church were disgusted by the actions of mine and other Christians? Doesn’t sound so loving to me (borrowing your use of the word love).

          5. So you also question motives? I’m really pretty sure that falls to the Almighty. I’m glad you included that statement. It clears things up pretty well. Since motives are a matter of the heart, can you determine what’s in my heart. You can question my actions, but the motives are outside of your realm.

          6. You quote Proverbs 27:17 with iron sharpening iron. Really? How can you justify your actions based on Proverbs when you already said that my argument is in vain when I used Proverbs. I’ll take you back to your own argument: you can’t use the OT, but have to use love your neighbor. You really can’t have it both ways.

          7. You rhetorically deal with the OT. I guess I don’t have as much difficulty understanding God’s commands which were to a particular people in a particular time. Because he gives these particular commands doesn’t negate what is generally applicable to all time.

          8. I am an American. I am glad that I am. In my life I have lived in other countries and spent time in many more. I am not naive enough to think that America gets everything right. So accusing me of American hubris is again far off the mark.

          9. So you consider America a fascist nation? I won’t respond to that because your disdain for America seems to play a larger role in your thoughts than does my love for my country in my thoughts.

          10. Yes, my article was a quick response to the news of this event. However, I still stand by the comments. I was able to respond quickly because I have wrestled with these general questions before the event.

  • Jeff

    I really do not think this is going anywhere. Your stuck on your position and not willing to see other perspectives. I see this in this and other conversations on your site. I’m perfectly happy to let the Lord sort this out with you and with me.

    Your a good actor, though, perhaps you should stick to that.

    I do not disdain America, and i love its people. What I am disappointed with is the conduct of her government. I think the government gets it wrong more than right.

    • Jeff, I agree with your first sentence. Keep in mind that this is my site and I have allowed you to say whatever you want.

      It is strange that you consider it a stalemate because I am stuck on my position…not that you are stuck on yours.

      I am so glad you think I am “not willing to see other perspectives.” If you look at the last comment before your posted, you will find my words to a brother who disagreed with me: “Paul, great comment. We may have a degree of disagreement, but I love the perspective.”

      I let the actor comment go by once, but it is a bit demeaning that you repeat that.

      You are more than welcome here even if you never agree with anything I write.

  • Jeff

    http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/2652/noam_chomsky_my_reaction_to_os/

    There are many pundits out there that present strong cases for OBL’s (non)involvement in 9/11. If even a shred of evidence exists to support their claims, or alternatively, that few shreds of evidence are out there to support the USG’s, I would be leery of condoning celebration of OBL’s death. Does it mean he’s deserving of a death sentence w/o a fair trial? A good example is on the FBI’s Ten Most wanted site. They don’t even mention 9/11 in the most wanted poster for OBL. Don’t you find that curious?

    • Jeff, I thought you were finished with this topic. Guess not. I’m not really interested in what “many pundits” have to say about this or most topics. You have already stated your reasons against my article. If you are trying to paint Bin Laden as an innocent man, it won’t fly with me.

      • Jeff

        No, Frank, I’m certainly not trying to paint him as innocent. I know he was an evil man that perpetrated acts of terrorism prior to 9/11; but I think that there has been no hard evidence to suggest he was behind the 9/11 attacks. If there is, the government is not releasing it, which makes it inadmissible in a fair court of law.

        You should be concerned about what the pundits say because your opinion on this matter is supported by several assumptions, which may or may not be correct.

        All i’m trying to do here, Frank, is to reinforce my assertion that you should have been more sensitive on the matter (as Todd asserts). After all, perception is 9/10th’s of the law…

  • Jeff

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/17

    Is this the government you’re so proud of? Sounds to me like neo-fascism.

    The only thing needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke

    Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

    • Jeff, it is getting a bit tiresome. When I engaged you and asked questions, you opted not to answer them but cutoff the conversation. Now you want to keep dealing with other issues. I am not biting. That is not the purpose of this blog. You have clearly spelled out your positions. Why don’t you start your own blog. Then you can bash America (the country you left), bash me and stand up for terrorists on your own.

      • Jeff

        You’re right Frank, of course. I’ll stop bugging you on these things.

        For the record, I do not support terrorism and I think in the last decade America has changed a lot for the worse. Your constitution, now, is merely words.

        Keep your head in the sand, its comfortable down there…

  • Sheri Ethridge Earwood

    My husband was driving down the road on day in charlotte,crazy traffic, people not being considerate ,flipping the bird, blowing horns and he said to God, “lord these people are mean and hateful and evil ,just look at them,” and God told him, Yes and I love everyone of them. Now they may not be terrorists by any means but he does love us all bur he is God and I am not I can’t do everything he does,I am not capable . So I guess I am glad he is in charge and not me

    • Jeff

      …and that’s what I’m afraid of. Isaiah 14:12 comes to mind. Not implying that America is satan, but that i think America has fallen from its founding principles. Since 9/11 Americans have lost (or given away?) many of their freedoms to the government. The last great power where this happened was Nazi Germany in the late 30’s.

      Anyway, as Frank mentions above, this is not the place to discuss politics.

      In terms of prayer, we need to be praying that the Lord brings the truth out of 9/11 and the subsequent acts in the middle east, no matter how ugly the implications will be. We also need to keep the soliders over there in our prayers because (i think) they are the pawns put in harms way.

      • Jeff, one more time…You did not answer my questions and you said you were through. Now it has been 8 comments by you that continues to bash me and America. In your first comment you wrote that your church was disgusted by people like me. Can you honestly say that your church would be pleased with your attacks? You raised the issue of sensitivity. Have you been sensitive?

        I think you are the first person ever to accuse me of keeping my head in the sand. What I have tried to communicate to you is that this blog is not intended to be a fleshing out of my life as an American. Instead it is intended to relate to my life as a Christian.

        I appreciate you making clear your stance by linking America to Satan and to the Nazis.

        Could you not find more constructive ways to live out your faith? You can read all of my blog, and you will not find anybody who has taken the time to bash me as have you. I wish you the best, but perhaps you can move on to your next project.

    • Sheri, I am glad, too, that I am not in charge. I do pray that the Lord increases my love more and more for those who are difficult to love.

  • Jeff

    You have reaffirmed to me, Frank, that you’re not interested in talking about this yet each time you respond calling me an America hater and terrorist lover because I write of disturbing trends I and many others see happening in America. I take great exception to that, Frank! All you’ve done is turn the points i’ve made back at me without answering anything. Really, the only question was the first one you asked. ‘Insensitive to who?’ well, i told you already: me, many in my church, my colleagues, etc. Looks like Todd too, but he can speak for himself.

    I have deliberately used a tough love approach with you equal only to this topic, but you’re not willing to admit that this whole thread is an inapropriate message for a Christian to send. THe whole issue of bin laden is extremely political, complex, and divisive. Keep in mind that the Lord holds a leader like you to a higher standard. I sincerely hope your intepretation of scripture in this case honors God… However, I do not think it does.

    I’ll remember you in my prayers Frank. I hope the Lord works on your heart to break away the American rhetoric.

    • Well, make it comment #9. I haven’t answered your questions about America because (as I have repeatedly said) this is not the forum for such. I have not provided American rhetoric. On the other hand, you have lobbed volatile anti-American rhetoric. You can take exception to it. You should. Because you are right – I have no interest in going down the road you want to go.

      Tough love? What you have done is not love at all. It has not even been honest, since you stated you would post no more on this article. You have questioned my faith. You have tried to belittle me. Not feeling the love.

      I do appreciate the prayers.

  • Sheri

    Where is the peace,love,and joy brethren? We need to help each other thru this maddness that we deal with and will deal with in the coming times, it’s gonna get worse till we are takin out