David P. Gushee has written a great statement about the death of Osama bin Laden on behalf of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. It’s titled, “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,” quoting from Proverbs 24:17.
I might quibble with some of the specifics in the latter portion of the statement, but the basic point is laudible.
Here is some of it:
“We feel compelled to respond today to the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States and to the jubilant response across the nation.
“A nation has a right to defend itself. From the perspective of the fundamental national security of the United States, this action is legitimately viewed as an expression of self-defense.
“But as Christians, we believe that there can no celebrating, no dancing in the streets, no joy, in relation to the death of Osama bin Laden. In obedience to scripture, there can be no rejoicing when our enemies fall.
“In that sense, President Obama’s sober announcement was far preferable to the happy celebrations outside the White House, in New York, and around the country, however predictable and even cathartic they may be.
“For those of us who embrace a version of the just war theory, honed carefully over the centuries of Christian tradition, our response is disciplined by belief that war itself is tragic and that all killing in war, even in self-defense, must be treated with sobriety and even mournfulness. War and all of its killing reflects the brokenness of our world. That is the proper spirit with which to greet this news. …
“President Obama’s respectful treatment of Islam in his remarks, and his declaration that Osama bin Laden’s body was treated with respect according to Islamic custom, offers all of us an opportunity to follow that example and turn away from the rising disrespect toward Muslims in our nation.”