I had no intention of writing this post. But the reaction from others has impressed upon me the need to clarify a Christian response to the events that took place in Abbottobad, Pakistan over the weekend. I am no theologian, and I do recognize that there is room for a wide range of opinion on this matter. But I am a deeply committed Christian living in a Muslim majority country who daily interacts with young people of all faiths, and I have a perspective on these matters that I do not see in the popular press.
First of all let me say unequivocally that Osama bin Laden is a mass murderer and worthy of death. His life with all its duplicity and carnage should be roundly condemned as abhorrent by all men and women of character, regardless of their faith or political leanings. But lest there be any doubt or charge of bias let me also say that George W. Bush is equally guilty of murder. On little evidence and much prodding by those in his inner cabinet that sought to make financial gain from the misery of others, he unleashed a war on Iraq that was with scant merit or even much chance of gain, and by doing so caused the deaths of thousands of innocent lives. Murder is murder, whether that murder is committed by a Saudi in a turban, or a Texan in a ten gallon hat. When will Mr. Bush be called to account?
Then there are those that see the death of bin Laden as an act of justice. You do injustice to the word by so maligning it to serve your purpose. What was visited upon bin Laden was revenge, and revenge is not justice, no matter who is pleased by the results. Justice would have been capture, not summary execution. To hear the State Department go on the air this morning to “clarify” the report by stating that bin Laden was unarmed only underlines the fault. He should have been apprehended and brought before a court of justice to stand trial for his crimes.
Justice means that he should have had to face the families of the victims of his murderous rage and required to give an account of his actions. He should have been given an opportunity to repent of his murders, and then he should have been given a sentence appropriate to the crimes he committed. If that sentence had been death, then he should have been executed in an appropriate and dispassionate manner.To kill bin Laden as he was gunned down over the weekend may have pleased those in America that were longing for revenge. But they have soiled America’s ideals by demanding it.
Rightly or wrongly, America is seen in much of the world as a Christian nation, and theirs has not been a Christian response. Christ came to bring salvation, not a sword. The only injury done in his name was when Peter cut off ear of the guard who arrested Christ. And what did Jesus do? He stooped down and picked up the severed ear, placed it back on the soldier’s head and healed it. This is the Christ of the Bible, the One who came to heal and forgive, not an unholy jihadist in western armour riding in on a helicopter to wreck vengeance. There are those who glory in such gore, but that is not the faith of our fathers.
Bin Laden is dead and many in the west, including many Christians, rejoice. But bin Laden’s fight will go on as long as the West continues to lead by the sword, instead of by God’s Word. Imagine –fanaticize with me if you will. Suppose bin Laden had been treated to Christian justice. Suppose he had been met with kindness for all his evil, compassion for his crimes and forgiveness for his sins? What if he in prison had been visited by those who truly cared for his eternal soul? What if he had come to see the error of his ways and had given his life to the One True God? What kind of testimony would that have been for Christ?
I will admit that is a little fanciful. But this is not: as long as revenge is called justice in the West, then those in the Middle East will continue to seek for “justice” for their cause. And America has just empowered them to continue to do so. The one who is truly rejoicing in all this is the Devil of desperate evil, not the Christ of the cross.