And they’ll know we are Christians by our…rejoicing in targeted killings?

Confession time.
I’ve become one of those Christians who doesn’t often admit to being Christian, especially to people I don’t know or who I’m meeting for the first time. When it does come up, I follow my revelation quite quickly with. “But I’m not one of thooooose Christians.  I’m not a “happy-clappy”. I support equal marriage and a compassionate, humane welcome to asylum seekers.  I actually think about what my beliefs reveal about the kind of god that I think God is. …Oh, and I don’t refer to God as ‘he’.”  It’s a bit sad, really, that I’ve felt the desire to add a disclaimer, to distinguish myself from the media brand of Christianity.

Many of you may have seen this clip of Bill Maher a few months ago, just after Bin Laden was found and executed. We don’t get much American-news footage here in Australia, but I picked this up on Twitter. What we did get was footage of thousands gathered in New York rejoicing at the announcement of Bin Laden’s death.

Conversely, I saw this TED talk from 2 mothers who each had sons killed in the attacks – one was in a building, one was hijacking a plane.  But the mothers found common grief in the injustice of their sons’ deaths. So I think we can agree there was a mixed-bag of emotions and reactions.

What I noticed about Bill’s clip, was that it is so brutally honest. As harsh and inflammatory as his comments may have been to some, I find myself thinking the same way sometimes. I found myself reminded by Bill saying, “Do not repay evil with evil,” and “Do not take revenge against someone who wrongs you”. I know I’m supposed to read the Bible to get that stuff into my head, but there’s something about hearing someone say it in the context of a current and controversial issue that makes it stick a whole lot more for me. Where on Earth did we get the idea that some kinds of killing, or torture, or violence is okay?

I’m not condoning or condemning Bill’s approach to his thoughts on the issue. But I think it’s safe to say he’s not tarring every Christian with the same brush.

Let’s chat honestly and constructively. What was your reaction to the killing of Bin Laden? Is it legal? Does it fit with your Christian ethos? What was your reaction to the reaction? What does it mean to be known to be a Christian?  What does it look like? Does it matter? Do you care?  How does your faith inform your reactions/thoughts/opinions on current events or issues?

5 thoughts on “And they’ll know we are Christians by our…rejoicing in targeted killings?

  1. Anna Peters says:

    I was relieved and very conflicted when Bin Laden was killed. So much of the debate about war was focused on him – I was hopeful that perhaps we could now look at the bigger picture of justice, community-building, and inequality. I don’t think that has really happened even know. We seem to like our world to be black and white and easy to understand through youtube clips. I was definitely turned off by the celebration of the murder of another human being, mainly because it was dehumanizing. I was struck recently by the similarity with Ghaddafi’s death, and that disimilarity with Saddam Hussein’s capture and trial. (Sorry if I’m spelling those wrong.) I’m selfishly glad Bin Laden is dead, but calling his murder “Justice” is wrong.

    I tend to avoid the news because it is so depressing. Instead, I just focus on making the parts of the world I encounter daily a better place. When I look outward, usually it is to see what is happening in terms of what I can do, like supporting Outreach International, UNICEF, Friends United, etc. Jesus spent most of his time interacting with the people around him in radical, loving ways, not looking at the big world picture. I pretty much do the same.

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Karli.
    In answering one of your questions, I posed myself a question; Does being a Christian frame the way i perceive the world, or is it simply being a person of faith? Now for some, this may be the same thing, but for me, I think it’s a little different. For me, my Christianity/tradition has shaped the way i view right/wrong, good/bad etc. but I think that was more so in my earlier years. These days I think my spirituality is what impacts my view of the world. I do acknowledge that I have the foundations of my faith (through cofc) to thank, however I think I’ve moved past “What would Jesus do” or “What does the church say on this” to a much more independent line of thought that is shaped by the Spirit.

    @Misty, I often hear the phrase you mentioned “Without bad we would not recognise good” and it frightens me a little. I have a naive view on the world that says it will one day be a place of only goodness. I don’t think I have to see sadness in order to appreciate goodness. I don’t think I need hot to tell me it’s cold. When it’s hot, its hot!! When my nonexistent grandchildren grow up, I don’t want them to experience atrocities simply to understand peace.

    Day after day we are posed with questions of faith and judgement. We were reminded (those of us good Christians who went to church on a Sunday morning) two weeks ago of the greatest commandments. To love God, and love your neighbour. Not one or the other, but both, at the same time. This is where it’s at for me, and this is the lens I attempt to live my life through

  3. With Bin Laden gone do I feel safer? Perhaps a little. Did I rejoice in his death? Not at all. To many people he represented evil and they will never be able to hear that name without rembering the loss of many lives. He was still a person and he was loved. He was a father, a son, a husband, and a friend to many. While not everyone in his family accepted him as he was, there were still people that loved him and felt a part of themselves break when he was taken from them. I am not saying that we should have let him continue leading people to kill, but we must also remember that he too was loved and someone is missing him.

    It is easy to take each day for granted if we do not see the struggles many face to just reach another day, or to be reminded of how quick a life can be taken from us. Without bad we would not recognize good. I do not celebrate the death of Bin Laden, but I do appreciate that he reminded me to be thankful for each day I have to spend with the ones I love.

  4. Marie Ellithorpe says:

    I experience God as a parental figure guiding me in life. And just as my earthly parents have, when I mature, His approach to me shows the understanding of that growth. If I committed heinous crimes, atrocities really, would my parents be expected to disclaim their love for me? No. That isn’t to say they would condone those actions, but love is an issue separate from judgement.

    From 1st Corinthians, chapter 13, “4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

    Just reading that passage takes me away from the state of mind that could cheer the assassination of even a dictator.

  5. Tammy Lindle says:

    Thank you for sharing. Both of these clips teach so much about our potential as human beings and as Christian disciples.

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