Monday morning, when I found out that America’s public enemy number one had met his demise at the hands of an elite military unit, my first unfiltered, reactionary words were, “That’s great.” It was a simple statement, devoid of much, if any, emotion.
The leader of Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization that had been the cause of so much suffering and harm, had been killed. The mastermind behind the cowardly attacks that resulted in thousands of Americans dying, had paid the consequence. My initial reaction was one of relief and, dare I say it, happiness. Yes, happiness.
I realize most Christians want to feel this deep sadness that a mass murderer died. I saw Christian after Christian lament Bin Laden’s death, expressing their deep remorse that he had to face earthly punishment for being behind the deaths of thousands of people.
Their main argument hinges on the fact that Jesus loved people, even sinners. And to that I would say, amen! But that’s not the whole story. Jesus is God, the same God who, after cleansing the earth of evildoers, told Noah and his sons that “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” God said that.
Now bear in mind, this command from God came before the Mosaic law. Here, God is laying down the foundational concept at the beginning of a rebirthed world that innocent life is precious, and whoever destroys man, the image-bearer of God, will have to face an earthly punishment at the hands of his peers.
A lot of Christians right now are saying that we shouldn’t rejoice in Bin Laden’s death, because he will be spending eternity in Hell. The fact that anyone will suffer forever in eternal damnation breaks my heart. But just because Bin Laden rebelled against God and rejected His love and mercy, resulting in eternal punishment, does not mean we should have any qualms about justice being carried out. Bin Laden’s eternal destiny is between him and God. We could do nothing, ultimately, to change that destiny.
But, the United States government did have the opportunity to mete out earthly punishment, which they rightly embraced, resulting in Osama Bin Laden’s death.
Osama Bin Laden made his choice to destroy other lives and spread suffering around the world in the name of his god. For that, he received an earthly punishment, and he is receiving an eternal punishment that is completely outside of our control.
But here’s the real point. All of the Christians who are complaining that a mass murderer received his punishment, who wish we hadn’t killed Bin Laden, who are saddened that the terrorist leader will spend eternity in Hell — and I would count myself among that last group — are wasting time and energy mourning a man who made his decision and is now suffering the consequences. These Christians see dozens of people everyday who are headed for the same eternal suffering that Bin Laden is enduring right now, and they don’t do anything about it.
These Christians who are torn up about the passing of a man they could never reach, have friends, family members, and coworkers whom they can reach. But they don’t.
If one more person says we should be broken-hearted because Bin Laden is in Hell, I’ll agree.
But then I’ll ask them whether they’re broken-hearted that their brother or friend is facing the same eternal penalty. And if they are, why they’re sitting around whining that a brutal murderer received his earthly punishment, when they could be saving their friends and family from eternal punishment.
Osama Bin Laden received his due in this life. And for that I’m happy. Now he’s receiving what he deserves in the next life. Instead of mourning about something we can’t, or never could, change, we should be sharing Jesus with those around us whom we can help change.
(Elijah Friedeman, author of The Millennial Perspective, is the grandson of Janis Friedeman, Great Bend. His columns can also be heard on his father, Matt Friedeman’s, radio program on American Family Radio.)