Euphoria has enveloped America this morning at the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden. World leaders give press releases in support of the American SEALs who carried out the meticulous operation. Our Canadian Prime Minister brings balance to the situation when he said that this death should be received with “sober satisfaction.” Sobriety would not come to mind as one watches the celebrations in America and many will be questioning the legitimacy and extent of the celebrations. Should a Christian rejoice at the demise of the ungodly and if so what should be the grounds of that rejoicing.
There is the Joy of Righteousness – the death of Osama Bin Laden was an act of God. God has “unchangeably ordain[ed] whatsoever comes to pass”1. As with the Amorites in the conquest of Canaan (Genesis 15:16), the iniquity of Bin Laden was full, the mercy of God has come to an end for him. The Proverb (Proverbs 11:11) identifies the perishing of the “wicked” but we step back beyond the individual and see the demise of wickedness, before we begin to identify those who practice it. For the Christian there should always be rejoicing at the demise of wickedness. This is the joy that should characterize the Christian’s personal life as we, through Christ, destroy the works of the devil. (Romans 16:20; 1 John 3:8).
There is the joy of Relief - the death of Osama Bin Laden was an act of war. Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Nations have mourned because of the confessed atrocities of Osama Bin Laden and families have been bereft of loved ones. This act of war was on their behalf (Romans 13:3-4). While another may rise to fill the bloody boots of Osama Bin Laden yet as he was recognized as an instigator and communicator of violence his demise is a relief. In more recent years Bin Ladan has been in hiding and his actions curtailed. The Proverb tells us however (Proverbs 11:11 cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33) that the mouth of the wicked is the destructive instrument. There is a sense of relief and in a relative sense, the world can breathe easier knowing that it is no longer under the tyranny of this particular oppressor.
There is the joy of Rectitude – the death of Osama Bin Laden was an act of justice. In a sense the scales have been balances the blood of thousands that has been calling for justice is now answered. Those who lost loved ones see this the death of Osama Bin Laden as the end of a chapter, justice has been done to the blood of the innocent.
The Christian should rejoice therefore with “Sober satisfaction” but we must view victories like this in light of the ongoing inconsistency of our own government policies and recognize that the cruelty displayed by men like Osama Bin Laden is also displayed in abortion clinics across the nations that today are applauded the death of Bin Laden. President Obama in his statement on the death of Bin Laden said that it “should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity” It is more than a little disingenuous for the President, not to mention our governments, to stand on their moral soapbox and celebrate the defeat of tyranny in the death of Osama Bin Laden when they tyrannise the unborn in their millions to satisfy the insatiable selfishness of society. “Peace” may be victorious today, but “human dignity” is still violated.
Furthermore, sobriety should control the Christian in times like this when he realized that all ungodly men, whether tyrant or tolerant will share the same eternal fate, “for all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). The murderer will share the same hell as the philanthropist, if they share the same unbelief in the Saviour.
1. (Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. 3:I cf. Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:33; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15).