I think the answer to that question is YES. (although I would rather not decide)
I am a Christian. I want to be like my Lord Jesus Christ and follow His example, in my heart as well as in my actions. I am in a quandary:
I confess that my first reaction to the news of Bin Laden’s death was one of relief and, dare I say, happiness? But my heart was immediately convicted by the Holy Spirit not to rejoice at my enemy’s downfall. Now, of course, Bin Laden was not my personal enemy but, as an American, my loyalty is with my fellow countrymen and the thousands of those who died on 9/11/2001.
However, my loyalty to Christ takes second place to no other loyalty, not even country. Countries don’t last forever, but Christ is immortal and His rule will last forever.
I don’t for one second believe that Jesus would be celebrating the death of Bin Laden. When I read the scriptures I see Him resurrecting people from death, weeping at the tomb of Lazarus, and never repaying evil with evil, since there is no evil in Him. I can find no example in the scriptures of Him rejoicing at the death of an enemy.
I can rationalize by saying that Bin Laden was not a human being, but a monster; but that is provably false because we know that he has human DNA. So, scientifically, he is definitely human. Did God specify any exceptions for forgiving our fellow man? Did God say that we could hate certain people because of their behaviors? (I am thinking of Hitler, Mao, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, etc). I have not found any exceptions in the scriptures nor in the teachings of the Church. So, I don’t believe that there are any exceptions to the rule of forgiveness. Therefore, I choose to forgive Osama Bin Laden. (This does not mean that I agree with what he has done)
But, can I just be angry with him?
I believe that there is an example of controlled anger in Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple; so, anger is not necessarily a sin because scripture is clear that Jesus did not sin in any way. I am not a biblical scholar or a theologian, but it seems to me that Jesus’ anger was fueled by love, not hate. He loved the worship of God and wanted nothing opposite of that to have a place in the Temple. It is difficult for me to distinguish “righteous anger” from “unrighteous anger”. So I am stuck on that one, for sure. I strive to quench my anger as best I can.
My study of the early Christians shows me that many were tortured, burned, sawed in two, dipped in boiling oil, fed to wild animals in the Roman Coliseum; mothers watched as their children were beheaded. And, yet, they forgave the ones who were doing these acts, just as Christ forgave the Roman soldiers who nailed Him to the cross. Am I required to do less?
There is no doubt in my mind that I must forgive everyone, no matter how vile or evil they have been. I also know that God does not require me to LIKE Bin Laden, but He does require me to treat Bin Laden with LOVE. That is really a tough one (and really requires some explanation in a separate post) but I have had some experience in this area and I am convinced that it is the BEST WAY to follow my Lord’s example at this time.
When Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh, He chose to allow injustices to happen to himself, even to the point of death on a cross; even though He could have destroyed his killers with one word. That was how he wanted it to be at His first coming; so that we could see how strong His love for us was, and is, and always will be, the pain and agony he endured in order to provide a way for us to be with him forever in glory. He could have called ten thousands of angels to kill his enemies. He held back his power for our sakes. That was what happened at his first coming. But, there will be a Second Coming in the future.
I am encouraged by my belief that He will return to earth one day; and that, when that day comes, He will be returning as a Conquering King, not as a babe in a manger. There will be complete and perfect justice wrought with His Second Coming. His righteous anger will mete out justice. I must wait for that day.
In the meantime, I, in my human frailty, feel happy that an enemy is gone, but I hold that happiness in check because I deserve death and hell no less than Bin Laden or Hitler, or any other evil person who has ever lived. I dare not consider myself more deserving of heaven or less deserving of hell. I am not responsible for the sins committed by any other person, only those committed by myself, and I am in need of God’s Mercy no less than Bin Laden.
And, please, dear friends, don’t try to convince me that I am “good”. I know me better than you, and, believe me when I say, “I deserve hell” but “thanks be to God, He has had mercy on me in my filthiness, and has offered to show me the way to heaven; it is only through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that there is any hope for me.”
I am still somewhat in a quandary: my feelings do not line up with my beliefs. So, if I must choose, I choose to act in faith and not according to my feelings; for my feelings have many times in the past led me to the wrong place. They are not to be trusted. To end this quandary, I choose to disagree with my feelings, and to agree with my beliefs instead, even if I don’t FEEL GOOD about it.
I choose to forgive Osama Bin Laden. I refuse to hate him. I refuse to be angry about his actions. I choose that, if ever given the opportunity, I would treat him with the love of Christ even if he were to kill me. I don’t believe I have been given a “pass” to hate this particular person.
So, that is where I stand. Where do you stand?