Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love your Enemies: Thoughts on the Death of Osama Bin Laden

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He went so far as to say if someone slaps you on the cheek to turn the other cheek. When Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Jesus said “No more of this!”

The assassination of Osama Bin Laden is contrary to Christian teaching. He was our enemy. Did we pray for him? Was the act of killing him a sign of love? Obviously this is a very difficult position to take as it is radical. Christianity is radical, self sacrificing and counter cultural. Acting like Jesus is not popular. Osama Bin Laden committed terrible crimes against humanity. He should have been tried by an international court.

I believe that the assassination of Bin Laden will spur on a whole new wave of terrorism. This act surely has infuriated his followers and they will need to find a way to strike back. Violence breeds more violence and the cycle of death and revenge will continue indefinitely. How sad for the future innocent victims. Think how many innocent people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

I believe this is a sad day with sadder times to come. Proverbs 24:17 reminds us “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” I pray for a day when we know in our hearts the futility of violence and the necessity of peace-making as our best Christian witness.


  1. Thank you for this word. I am glad that so many Christians are speaking out to say that we do not rejoice in the death of our enemies.

    I am not quite as sure that this is appropriately called an assassination. The official word (which we may or may not choose to believe, but which I so choose) is that if Bin Laden would have surrendered, he would have been taken captive. However, it was also fully expected that there would be armed resistance and that he would be killed. Does that mean an attempt to capture him should not have been made?

  2. Thanks you, Bishop Johnson.

  3. This is a difficult area of the Christian life. According to your blog, Christians should not defend themselves against harm. I wonder - If bin Laden was captured and was awaiting a trial, would you have allowed him to stay at your house?
    Should I ever see anyone attempting to kill another, I will do whatever I can to stop the act, even if it means taking a life.
    I am a disable d veteran, having served my country during the Vietnam War era. I took an oath to give my life, if necessary, to protect people like you from the likes of a bin Laden. I thank God every day for all the veterans who did the same, especially those who made the supreme sacrifice. Yes Jesus did tell us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. He did not tell us we had like our enemies or turn the other cheek it more than once.
    With all due respect, Bishop, if we lived like your blog suggests, we would not have a place to write a blog.

  4. In the midst of a great silence from religious communities and leaders about this most unseemly celebration of an assination and the value of revenge, this is a forthright Christian statement. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for the quotation from Proverbs 24:17. I felt sick when I heard about the celebrations over Bin Laden's death. We should never cheer over the death of a person. Our battle is not with flesh and blood but with the dark spiritual forces that deceive and twist people enticing them to commit death and destruction.

  6. You are the first person that has taken this stance. Thank you. I have been wrestling with similar thoughts...wondering how a Christian should react to this death. Thanks for taking a Christian approach.