UPDATE: I originally meant to link to two of my friends and future roommates’ blogs who updated it with their opinions earlier today. So check them out: James Laugerman and Justan Spaid
In 2002, the United States engaged in a series of battles in Afghanistan termed Operation Anaconda, that ended with mediocre success. The goal of the mission was to destroy Al Qaeda and capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. At the end of the mission, the United States ran the Taliban out of Afghanistan and severely crippled Al Qaeda, but they did not find Osama Bin Laden.

As if the world didn’t already know, on Sunday evening U.S. Navy SEALS raided an urban compound and came out with the Snake’s head, Osama Bin Laden. When President Obama made the announcement that Bin Laden was confirmed dead and his body was in U.S. custody, the nation went crazy — celebrating the end of a tyrant.

I did not know about the President’s announcement until just after he ended his address to the nation. I was playing a game with my brother online, and when I got on Facebook, my news feed with covered updates exclaiming the death of the most notorious mass murderer of my generation. At first I was elated; the man who created more fear in my country than any other man in history was dead. In fact, I changed my status:

Achmed the dead terrorist regrets to inform Osama who the 72 virgins are…

Nearly everyone in my generation knows this reference, it is from a skit by Jeff Dunham. Here’s a link to the video, just skip ahead to about 4:18 to here the length of the joke. It certainly wasn’t the most cordial comment I could have made, it certainly wasn’t to the extent of celebrating that I watched around the nation. Huge crowds gathered outside the White House, 1 World Trade Center, and even Iowa City’s own Pentacrest to chant and cheer because of the death of Bin Laden.

I watched video footage and followed the Huffington Post’s news feed as the story developed and had MSNBC’s live broadcast late into the night as I began to really develop my opinion on the whole topic. Here’s some of the conclusions that I reached:

  1. While it definitely is a good thing to know that one of history’s most notorious mass murderers can never hurt another person, is it a good thing to celebrate a man’s death?
  2. While it is good to know that the man who signed the death warrants of thousands of unbelievers has now stood before God in judgment himself, is it a good thing to celebrate a soul presumably being cast away from God for eternity?
  3. While it is good that our government fulfilled it’s God given role to pursue justice for it’s people who were killed, is it a good thing that wars in multiple countries, causing the sometimes purposeful killings of thousands of non-hostile civilians in pursuit of justice were started?
Does this mean that I am happy that Bin Laden is dead or not? I do not like the prospect of anyone going to Hell, but I do not remorse at the fact that he cannot harm anyone ever again. Justice has found him on this earth. His crimes, worldwide, justify the use of the death penalty if he had been taken alive. Now that his earthly punishment has been executed, he stood before God, in perfect judgment, to decide his eternal fate. This is fair, because 2 Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
I’ve heard people argue that we should not be happy that he is dead, because Proverbs 24:17-18:
17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the LORD will see and disapprove
and turn his wrath away from them
I’ve heard other people argue that we should rejoice, because our government fulfilled Romans 13, because the U.S. was an agent of God’s to bring wrath and punishment on wrongdoers.
Still, I’ve heard others say that not even God rejoices at the death of the wicked. Ezekiel 18:20-23

20The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

21But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

22All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

23Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

I find the last passage to be the most convincing for me. Earlier in the chapter, the Lord says that every man is responsible for his own sins. Later on he goes to say that a righteous man who turns away suffers the same fate as one who never believed. But, as the Lord says in verse 21, if a wicked man would turn from his sins, he will live. And because of that, the Lord does not take pleasure in their deaths.  If God doesn’t take pleasure in his death, why should I?
Still, The chapter goes on to say that God is fair. His ways are equal for all people, so everyone who has ever lived is held to this standard. I think if there is anything to rejoice about, it’s that we can be assured that we will face judgment, what standard we need to meet, and that it is the same for everyone regardless.
So what’s next? Osama Bin Laden hasn’t held much power in Al Qaeda since 2001. He’s been more of a figure of inspiration than a tactical leader. While his death is a moral defeat for the members of his organization, it doesn’t do much else except enrage thousands of worldwide sleeper cells. It is quite possible that plans are already in the works to take revenge for the death of their leader, and that is scary. The war against terrorism is not over, not by a long shot.
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