Monday, May 2, 2011

The Death of an Enemy

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble,
or else the LORD will see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from them.
(Proverbs 24:17-18)

I awoke this morning to celebration. I found it on Facebook, in the news, and in conversation in general. Osama bin Laden was killed by US soldiers yesterday. There can be little doubt that bin Laden will go down in history as one of the world’s worst, a perpetrator of violence and evil in the name of God.

I’m glad he’s gone.

At the same time, the celebration feels out of place. My lack of excitement comes from the fact that bin Laden’s death will do very little to stem the flow of violence that saturates our world. The war in Afghanistan will continue; we will still struggle to bring troops home from Iraq, and who knows where the conflict in Libya will lead us. In some parts of the world, children will continue to grow up playing "interrogate the terrorist" instead of taking sports or music lessons (see photo at bottom).

What is more, violence still permeates the culture I live in. Television programs, movies and video games make loads of money by putting violent acts before our very eyes, inviting us to watch—or worse—participate. Civil discourse becomes more adversarial by the day, at a time when we most need to work together to present constructive solutions to some very real challenges. And as for my own personal enemies—those persons with whom I struggle to get along—I must confess that feelings of revenge are often closer to the surface than desires for reconciliation.

This blog leaves unanswered some very serious questions about the church’s response to evil. Those will come another day. For today, I simply say this: If you find yourself celebrating the killing of a killer who celebrated killing, beware. In a world where violence is everywhere, silence and humble reflection seem the better options.


  1. I agree - well said! With the news of bin Laden's death, I was grateful that this head of the snake was gone. But as I listened to the news reports of the details and the celebrations, I also felt that we should not be so celebratory. Our celebrations can only foster feelings of revenge from our "enemies" (who are our "neighbors"?) and incite other acts of violence. Perhaps our leaders should just have matter of factly announced his death and sayeth no more.


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