i’m not referring to bin laden’s death.
nope, i didn’t expect to so fully appreciate and agree with a post, on a volatile subject, by al mohler.
let me back up: last night, when my iphone buzzed with a breaking news update from my cnn.com app saying that bin laden had been killed, i immediately experienced a mixed reaction. on one hand, i was (and remain) glad he was found; and even more glad that he has been captured (dead or alive), and will not perpetrate further terror. on the other hand, i had an uncomfortably squeamish response to the word “killed”, used as a positive. 30 minutes later, i entered the home of my friend brian berry, who was watching frat-boy partying outside the capital building in dc. on a political level, this seems unwise. it seems to be inviting a response. bin laden was not a one-man show. brian said it well, “if americans were watching al qaeda celebrate over the killing of one of “ours”, we would be appalled, and question their very humanity.” (well, he said something like that — those are my words, to be fair.)
today, i’ve watched the internet, and it continues to make me uncomfortable. christians are celebrating that osama is in hell. christians are “rejoicing when God ordains leaders to execute civil justice” (that’s a direct quote from a comment on my facebook page). wow. i am so uncomfortable with claiming this as god’s action. a friend of mine saw my facebook status, and texted me, asking if i think the killing was unjust or unrighteous. i responded that my struggle is less with the result (full disclosure, i’m wrestling with this, and am far from ready to be dogmatic on it!), and much more with the celebrations and revenge/triumph perspective.
then, someone pointed me to al mohler’s blog. i rarely look at mohler’s blog, because it usually frustrates me more than anything else. but this post — well, all i can say is that he did a good job of parsing out the difference between “just war” (which i’m probably not in complete agreement with him on, but that’s not the point here, nor is it mohler’s point) and “revenge”. the money paragraph:
And yet, there are two troubling aspects that linger. The first is the open celebration in the streets. While we should all be glad that this significant threat is now removed, death in itself is never to be celebrated. Such celebration points to the danger of revenge as a powerful human emotion. Revenge has no place among those who honor justice. Retributive justice is sober justice. The reason for this is simple — God is capable of vengeance, which is perfectly true to his own righteousness and perfection — but human beings are not. We tend toward the mismeasure of justice when it comes to settling our own claims. All people of good will should be pleased that bin Laden is no longer a personal threat, and that his death may further weaken terrorist plans and aspirations. But revenge is not a worthy motivation for justice, and celebration in the streets is not a worthy response.
that says it well. i want terrorism stopped. but i cannot celebrate — waiving american flags and cheering about ‘god’s favor’ — the killing death of anyone, including (maybe particularly?) an enemy.
i’m not sure that i’m trying to “take a stand” here, as much as i’m writing about my discomfort and trying to figure it out. but i’ll stand by my facebook status at least, which was: “i’m struggling a bit today with all the blood-lust and revenge (often cloaked with language of justice and righteousness) that is swarming the internet. much of it represents a nationalism and/or christianity i am extremely uncomfortable with.”
(as an aside: meeting al mohler’s 70-something dad a couple months ago, and watching his commitment to middle school ministry, was a pretty amazing thing. maybe al and i are going to become BFFs.)