A Christian Response to Violence Celebrated


My sister sharing her prophetic voice in an evil world. (Full text follows):

Osama Bin Laden is dead and Americans danced in the streets. In the days that followed the announcement this week, I felt myself horrified by the responses of my fellow Americans. We celebrated, even reveled, in the death of another human being. There is no doubt that Bin Laden made some terrible choices that did violence to others, shattered lives and families, and fundamentally changed our lives. We are all his victims, to be sure. But what he did in no way absolves of the choices we have made in the face of his murder. Our violence is not justified because of his. Our means to the end is not justified by his means. And yet, we celebrated in the streets.

Ty and I came to the conclusion last night that we are in the minority. Our views that what we did was wrong and our grief over his murder is not a popular position. However, anytime I find myself following the lead of what is knee jerk or popular, I question whether I am really following Jesus’ subversive and status quo shattering message of peace and shalom. There is no doubt that Bin Laden should be held accountable. He should be confronted with the consequences of his actions. However, we have bypassed the opportunity for accountability by embracing murder. It was a cowardly move. Yes, I said it. We are all cowards. Now no victim of his actions will get to look him in the eye, share their grief and hear the answer to the question that haunts most victims of violence — “WHY.” In turn, Bin Laden will never have the chance for repentance or remorse. He will not be given the space to answer for his choices or to share his answer to the question — “WHY.” The opportunity for repentance and restoration have been taken. The opportunity for closure has been robbed.

How far must we be immersed in the theology of retributive violence to celebrate when a human life is taken? Where is their room for Christ’s call for restorative justice? Why do we feel no tug at our hearts when we read Matthew 5 in this context? This is not over — we have assured that there is no restoration here and like Christ said, those who live by the sword, die by the sword. We will reap what we have sown this week. We have not claimed victory over terror — we have conceded to it.  And I find no joy in the fact that the cycle of violence continues.

Posted: May 7, 2011

In 2022, I am participating in two leadership training programs. This should be a social experience, so I am writing about it. Check out the full list of posts in the series here.

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