Several folks have asked for my opinion about the United States killing of Osama bin Laden. I must hurry to make it clear that I am not a scholar on these types of issues. I do have some thoughts that I can share.
From my perspective, God assigns to leaders of nations the responsibility to protect its citizens from all harm, both foreign and domestic. In the case of the United States, God will hold President Obama, the Congress, and the Senate responsible for the safety and well being of Americans around the world.
With this responsibility comes the potential of deadly use of force. At times, the only way to assure the safety of a nation’s citizens is through war, acts of force, and proactive engagement. There are many laws, ethical principles, and even theological concepts that give guidance to the concept of “just use of force.”
Terrorism is a rather complicated issue too. For this limited discussion, let us say that there are two kinds of terrorism, State sponsored terrorism and Non-state sponsored terrorism.
The United States determined that Bin Laden’s terror network was accurately classified as state sponsored terrorism. Thus, to protect the US citizen at home and abroad, the United States took military action against the state that sponsored the terrorism which is the Taliban (the former ruling party of Afghanistan).
Removing the state sponsored component of the equation did not solve the problem. Bin Laden’s terrorism then became non-state sponsored terrorism, although it is interesting that he was killed in a strong military city in Pakistan. The location of his hideout suggests that he may have been a state sponsored terrorist that was now sponsored by elements in the Pakistani government.
Officially Bin Laden was a non-state sponsored terrorist whom the United States determined to be actively pursuing the murder of US citizens, actively planning attacks inside the United States, and who had already killed over 3,000 Americans.
Generally, the strategy to end state sponsored terrorism is to end the government that is sponsoring the terrorism. The most common strategy to end non-state sponsored terrorism is to kill the terrorists from the leadership down to the, often teenager, who is doing the act of terrorism. For example, most of the Somali pirates actually doing the piracy are only 15 to 20 years old.
If any one of us had shot Bin Laden, it would most likely have been an act of injustice, because you and I are not assigned, by God, the responsibility of protecting US citizens from terrorism. If, however, Bin Laden was in the middle of an act of terrorism and you were present, you may of had the responsibility to use deadly force to stop him. One of the things i dislike most about Bin Laden is that he himself didn’t do much terrorism, if any. As a gigantic coward, he sent others to do his dastardly deeds.
You can not apply personal ethical systems to government ethical systems in the same way. What God requires from the United States government in relationship to Bin Laden is very different from what God requires of you as a citizen. My understanding is that God requires the US government to end the threat to our citizens from a non-state sponsored terrorist. What God required of you and me is prayer for Bin Laden to come to faith in Jesus.
I think a good response to this situation is:
1. Thank God for our government’s intentionality in protecting the United States.
2. Repent if you did not actively pray for Bin Laden to come to faith in Jesus.
3. Encourage those who are assigned to provide our security as a nation.