Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some thoughts on the death of Osama bin Laden:

I haven't had a great deal of time to reflect on the death of Osama, or is it "Usama" bin Laden. Here are a few barely more than random thoughts.

I am thankful to and proud of our armed forces and the people who serve in them. It took incredible skill, discipline, dedication, courage, cooperation, and strength of will to accomplish what was done. Romans 13 reminds us that the civil authorities do not bear the sword in vain. In this case it is a very complicated, expensive sword . . .

Our President was right in his handling of this--at least as far as I can see.
Does this action provide political fodder? No doubt.
Do I agree with all of President Obama's decisions and positions? Not at all.
This action was right. In the words of old cowboy movies, "He needed killin'." Whether we consider what bin Laden did as a crime or as an act of war, our action as a nation was justified.

I can't help but have some conflicts in my thinking.
Am I not supposed to look on sinners with compassion? Yes, I am. I do not say what I am about to say because bin Laden is different than me, but because, in this sense, he is like me. From all I know, I have to conclude that simultaneously with feeling the sting of the bullet, Osama bin Laden felt the fires of Hell. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 3:23 & 6:23) Yet, God, Himself, says that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11) Every sinner who dies rejecting the grace of God in Jesus Christ is a loss, a tragedy.
We desire perfect clarity, non conflicting conclusions and emotions, "this-and-not-that" kind of categories in our thinking. That isn't available here. In a sense it is part of living in two kingdoms--I am a child of God, and I am citizen of the United States--there is some conflict here. On one hand, I can say that I am pleased that justice was done (more in a moment). I'd like to shake the hand of the man who pulled the trigger, look him in the eye, and say, "Thank You." On the other hand I need to recognize that here is one who spurned God's message of mercy. I am sorry. If I let either the "either" or the "or" dominate my thinking to the exclusion of the other my thinking as a Christian citizen will be distorted.
John 17 makes plain that "This world is not my home." (I'm quoting an old song, not scripture.) But Romans 13, and 1 Peter 2:13, among other passages of scripture, make clear that I have a responsibility to my earthly home, as well as my heavenly. Under the guidance of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, and in conjunction with the body of believers with whom I worship and serve I need to maintain that dual status and the tension it sometimes brings.

I am well aware that all actions by human leaders, and agents are imperfect.

  • Were there political considerations at work here? DUH!

  • Were the hearts of all those who carried out this mission pure? I doubt it.

  • Should greater efforts have been made to take the terrorist alive? You chew on that one.

  • Were there casualties in this raid who were more accurately described as innocent victims than co-conspiritors? Perhaps, maybe even probably.

I'm quite sure that Paul had no illusions about the purity of those who bore the sword in their day. Most of them--like most of our military today--were just guys doing a job. Yet the Apostle spoke clearly of the respect that should be given to those who represent the power of the state.
In short, the imperfection of the justice, need not prevent an appropriate rejoicing in the fact that it was rendered.

Finally--for now--let's not forget what a small world we live in. A guy who doesn't deserve the title of "Pastor" in Florida burns a copy of the Qur'an and riots take place on the other side of the world. My fellow Christians in predominantly Muslim lands end up paying a high price for lack of restraint here in the USA. One of the things that impresses me about the Apostle Paul is that though he ministered in a world that was in many ways hostile to his message, he did so with respect, and even on occasion restraint. There is no way you can accuse the Apostle of compromise, but he refused to needlessly act in ways regarded as sacrilegious to others. In fact Romans 2:22 contains a slightly veiled condemnation of those who do.

I'm sure there are many good articles out there on this matter. Here is one that has some worthwhile thoughts:

A friend just posted this one;

1 comment:

Brantley said...

Very well put Howard.