Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Second Thoughts on Rejoicing in Osama’s Death

Since I’ve opined that is o.k. to rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden, I’ve noticed that I may be in a distinct minority among orthodox Christians, particularly in the Anglican and Catholic traditions. And several whose opinions I greatly respect have a decidedly different opinion on this matter than mine. That has given me pause.

Now to be fair to myself, I wrote that “there is a long and prominent Biblical tradition of rejoicing in the justice of God rained down on the sniff necks of unrepentant men.” But I most certainly had the death of OBL in mind.

Which brings up something important in favor of my argument. If one rejoices in the justice of God, then how can one not also rejoice in the results of that justice, particularly on the likes of Osama?

Nevertheless, there is strong, and deeply felt, reasoning on the other side, that rejoicing on Osama’s death is not appropriate at all.

So I’ve been turning the question around in my mind these past few days. Now, I am still convinced this is a question on which faithful Christians can disagree. And, frankly, I advise those who disagree with my position to avoid looking down, as some have, on those who rejoiced in OBL’s demise.

Still, as one who puts weight on the teaching of the whole (orthodox) church, I’ve personally decided to leave this question open and keep an eye out for what scripture and godly teachers have to say on such matters. And, yes, my confidence in my opinion stated last week is not so strong now.

As I’ve ruminated these past days, St. Paul’s teaching in Romans 14-15:5 has come to mind. If this matter is one on which faithful Christians can disagree, as I still maintain, then both sides should exercise love by avoiding needless offense to those of a sensitive conscience who disagree. I most certainly have noticed that many Christians are offended (I am not talking about those who are “offended” like Pharisees. That is a different situation I will not delve into here.) by other Christians who rejoiced in OBL’s death. Many Christians have sensitive consciences about such situations, particularly on the other side of the pond, but on this side as well. And I am afraid I have disappointed some of them. (My apologies to any readers who are among these.)

Therefore, and I hope I am in line with St. Paul on this, I think it wise and loving that those who do occasionally rejoice in the demise of exceedingly evil men do so with discretion and not in people’s faces. For this is a sensitive area for many of good faith.

I am confident in asserting that. I admit I am not so confident anymore in the rest of this area.

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