|America! F*** yeah!!!|
In an earlier post, I mentioned Pilate's questioning of Jesus: "What is truth?" he asked. Indeed, how are my perceptions of what is true different from the truths of others? When I find myself "debating" with other--usually more conservative--Christians, a common response I get is "Well, that's your truth. I have my own truth" (Incidentally, I find this ironic, since most of these are the types of people who would be the first to make claims about the Bible holding absolute truth, but that's another post for another time). This stretches beyond petty disagreements between friends on facebook, and has implications on an international, interfaith scale. For instance, take a look at this quote by Osama bin Laden, spoken in 2004:
"Allah knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed – when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way (and) to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women."
|An ad I saw on facebook shortly following Pres. Obama's|
announcement. Not even joking.
When I first heard President Obama reveal to the nation that bin Laden had been killed and his body retrieved, my first feeling was relief. Alright, I thought. Now the families of those thousands of people finally have closure. Amid the enthusiastic thunder of expressions of patriotic American "Christian" approval of the covert CIA operation that "took out" this terrorist, I came to a sort of peaceful rest with the whole situation.
But upon further reflection, I've found that Osama bin Laden's death has lead to a bit of a deeper theological conundrum for me, namely, How are Christians supposed to react to this?
I know the American way. As an American, I want to say, Hell yeah! Get 'im, Uncle Sam! But there is something that deeply disturbs my soul about this approach. The more I study, the more I pray, the closer I grow to my God and my Jesus, the more I realize that the American Way and the Jesus Way are nearly incompatible. How can we possibly rejoice in the fall of our enemy?
I know what the scriptures say:
As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)
Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble... (Proverbs 24:17)
But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:27-30)But I also recognize there are just as many verses in which God's people are begging Yahweh for the destruction of their enemies--and God follows through. (For more information on imprecatory passages of the Old Testament, check out this fantastic blog post by Two Friars and a Fool)
Back to my friend Jennifer. That answer she gave about justice? This is why I love my seminary friends so much:
"For me, justice is the oppressor fully understanding the pain s/he caused. It leads to healing, to restoration," she said. I asked her if she felt justice had been carried out with Osama bin Laden. "Not in any manner that we have seen," she answered. If the killing of one man is considered justice for the killing and oppression of many, while pain lingers and loss endures... that is pitiful justice."
Please leave your comments below. I'm interested in your thoughts, largely because this issue has me so troubled. Speak a word.