Grieving for Bin Laden: Why the Death of a Terrorist is a Cosmic Tragedy

As I encounter almost endless commentary about the recent demise of the mastermind behind thousands of deaths, having watched Obama’s announcement, and seen footage of mass celebration outside the Whitehouse, the uneasiness in my soul continues to grow.

Osama bin Laden deserved to die. He was a twisted, evil man, darkened by unimaginable sin and marred by diabolical hatred.  His death is a victory for justice.

Yet I mourn for him.

God’s precious child, whom he knew as he formed him in the womb, has perished.  Even more, as far as we know, he is now eternally separated from his Father, condemned to suffer forever.

He deserved his fate.

But that fact makes it no less tragic.  His death and what it entails are the grim conclusion to his abominable life.  A man that was created in God’s image spent his years steeped in violence, hatred, suffering, fear, and pride.  If anyone in our lifetime has been characterized by sin and death, he fits the bill.  That, too, is something to mourn.  A man that was created to represent God on earth dedicated himself to assaulting God’s character and creation, demolishing the light within himself and snuffing out thousands of other people who were all dim reflections of their maker.

The truth is I deserve that fate as well.  You do too.  Every one of us has committed violence against God’s creation and terrorized the beauty of God’s divine nature residing in us.  But God chooses moment by moment to spare me and you, not because we deserve to live or have the right to breathe, but because he is merciful and filled with grace and compassion.  We still live because he is love.

He is also absolutely holy, and at some point, everyone who is characterized by the evil will die.  We should praise God that he has given us a way to receive his own goodness and set aside the evil and injustice we have taken upon ourselves.  He does this, too, because his is love.

And because he is love, he wants all of us to make this choice, and I believe he mourns for everyone who reaches the end and remains bound by the chains of his own evil, choosing eternal death, separation from our Father and everlasting suffering.

Death is the ultimate enemy conquered by Christ, and it is a cosmic tragedy when it claims a victim, regardless of how deserving.

I believe because God is love, he even mourns for Osama bin Laden, and though we can be grateful he no longer can harm anyone else, we should be careful not to rejoice at the things that make God grieve.

As I interacted with someone on Facebook about this a little more, I realized I should probably nuance this a bit. The reason I wrote this blog was in reaction to all the people out there who are unrestrainedly excited that someone just died. At the same time, I don’t want to be one-sided either. Justice is a good thing.  As an attempt to balance what I am saying, here is some of what I said on Facebook in that conversation:

I have to acknowledge that God also loves justice. And part of that justice involves protecting his other children from the ones who are violent and hateful. And, ultimately, that justice leads to the death of those who refuse to turn to him. I can praise God that he has protected those who would have been harmed if Bin Laden continued to live, and I can praise him that he has acted according to his perfect nature and character.

I think the short version is that I mourn for the man, but I can rejoice in God’s justice, which is good, for God is good.”

2 thoughts on “Grieving for Bin Laden: Why the Death of a Terrorist is a Cosmic Tragedy

  1. well said here, brandon. a life is a life… image of God and therefore THAT deserves mourning. not the actions or work that life did necessarily… but the God-knit human itself.


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