Should Christians Celebrate the Death of Osama bin Laden?
I watched President Obama’s brief speech on Sunday night with eager interest as he delivered the news that United States forces had killed Osama bin Laden. The President showed great class and care in delivering the sober news of the death of a great enemy of the U.S. While the President was giving this news, outside the gates of the White House a large crowd was
gathering to celebrate what the U.S. had accomplished. At one point a large part of the crowd broke into chants of glee using a harsh and vile word to describe the death of the wicked terrorist.
As I watched the scene, I could not help but ask the question–should Christians celebrate the death of anyone, much less someone as wicked as a terrorist? On the one hand, many Christians I have read have quoted verses like Proverbs 24:17 which tells us not to rejoice or be glad when our enemies stumble. On the other hand, we read in Psalm 140:10-11 where David prays in regard to his enemies that burning coals would fall on their heads, that they would be cast into the fire, and that evil would hunt them down. How can Proverbs 24 and Psalm 140 both be true?
The answer comes when we begin to think and feel like God. God’s thoughts are vast and complex but have been revealed in His Word. He does not rejoice that evil people die while wholly rejecting Him and the beauty and glory of His Son Jesus Christ (cf. Ezekiel 18:23ff). A man like bin Laden has no hope of accepting Christ now or ever since his destiny was sealed upon his death just like any other unbeliever. However, the death and eternal punishment of a man like bin Laden (or any other unbeliever) allows God to display His justice (cf. Romans 3:1-19). God is satisfied and pleased that a wicked man like bin Laden will be punished forever.
We, as believers, grieve that someone could so reject the beauty and glory of our Savior Jesus Christ to whom we have committed our hearts and affections. We grieve that his punishment is sealed. However, we rejoice that God is just and that for all eternity His justice will be demonstrated. In short, chanting and denigrating bin Laden shows no care for the seriousness of the death of the wicked. Rejoicing and praising God that He is just, has demonstrated His justice, and has used our government to do so is a godly response.
** For more good thoughts on this topic see John Piper’s assessment here.