Shane and I were in the middle of our Sunday evening routine (60 minutes and an end-of-the-weekend cocktail) when the news blurb started flashing across the bottom of the screen – ‘stay tuned for an important update from President Obama regarding Osama bin Laden’. I looked over at Shane and he raised his eyebrows before darting for the laptop, ready to scour the Internet for the nation’s latest headlines. I crossed my fingers, praying that the news would be good – after the segment we’d just watched on Lara Logan’s horrific experience with sexual assault by an Egyptian mob, I didn’t know how I’d handle more heavy news. Fifteen seconds of web-surfing was all it took for Shane to give me the late-breaking report – Osama bin Laden had been killed by American troops. Hoo…ray? I would have expected to feel immediate relief from such news – I would have imagined myself clapping my hands with the sweet taste of justice being served, celebrating with anti-terrorists across America as we learned that we could finally rest easy in knowing this terrible man was no longer a threat. But I wasn’t inclined to clap, or shout from the rooftops, or even breathe a sigh of relief. I was unsettled, for reasons I couldn’t put into words. I suppose there was disappointment in knowing that despite this leader’s demise, the war on terror would still rage on, claiming more lives and perpetuating more fear and more racism and more cultural divisiveness. There was sadness in knowing that his death would not bring back the loved ones whose lives were lost in the attacks of September 11th. And ultimately, after hearing from friends that encouraged us to view the situation through the lens of a Christian American, rather than just an American, I realized the root of my uneasiness – as a follower of Christ, I am called to love my enemies, no matter the circumstance. Is there room for justice and retribution in this love? Absolutely. I’m not saying bin Laden should have been allowed to walk free; but rejoicing in another man’s death feels far from Christ-like. So instead of celebrating, I will pray for reconciliation among nations, for our country’s leaders to be richer in wisdom than in ‘intelligence’, and for a future where the atrocities of terrorism can be fought with means other than violence.

‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’ -Matthew 5:44

One Comment

  1. Steve says:


    I’m right there with you. As Christians we long for so much more than just a tad bit of retribution. We hope for a rich and deep justice that will not do unto our enemies as they have done to us but instead a justice which truly loves our enemies. I also agree with you that love might mean retribution right now but this isn’t the long lasting solution we all want.

    I found this article on the web that nuances the word justice in the New Testament. I’m not sure if it connects exactly with what you are saying but it is a fascinating to think about.

    Justice is more than retribution or getting even. It is about putting things right.