It is interesting to see the ethical questions that surface in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death. When the report came out it looked like New Year’s Eve in the streets of New York. We certainly understand the jubilation. For ten years a genocidal monster has evaded justice leaving broken victims without resolution and the rest of us fearing a repeat from the same hands. When Bin Laden died at the hands of the very nation he afflicted, a million loose ends were tied up—justice being the most obvious.
But the question soon surfaced, “Should we really be celebrating death?” Some said yes, and others said no. Some said yes because justice is worth celebrating but the counter point was that we all stand guilty before a holy God and deserve judgment for our sins. Before we emotionally react to the latter response we need to understand that, biblically speaking, it is correct. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Ephesians 2:3 says that without the saving blood of Christ we are all “children of wrath.” If you don’t believe this then you don’t believe Jesus died for sins. Isaiah chapter 53 makes it very clear that Christ took our sins upon himself to experience the wrath we deserve; a wrath we will experience if we do not , in repentance, surrender our life to our Creator-Lord.
So what are we to make of this argument that rejoicing over the death of the wicked is wrong since we are all undeserving beggars of grace?
Well, if this were the only lens through which we are to look at life then the opposite emotion would be wrong as well—grief over injustice. The next time we read about the abduction and murder of an "innocent" civilian (innocent under civil law) we should not be grieved since, well, we all fall short of God’s holiness and don’t deserve judgment in the end. While that is true in one sense we do not see God responding like this in the Scripture. We do not see God indifferent to injustice done to orphans and widows even though, at the end of the day, we all stand guilty before Him. Rather, we see God responding with righteous anger at the injustice of murder, rape, theft, etc. Why? Because God looks at life through two