Was Justice Really Done in Abbottabad?

A Christian said, “I’m not rejoicing over the man’s death. I’m rejoicing that justice was done.”

Was justice really done? The killing of OBL by the US military may or may not have been a just act. We’ve seen that some say that it was while others say it wasn’t. NT Wright, a Christian whom I admire greatly, has indicated that if there has been any sort of justice in this situation, it is a “crude” and improper sort. He may or may not be right. But, the question has to be asked. Christians, particularly those who feel compelled to rejoice publicly, need to consider whether or not OBL’s death is truly the outworking of justice, divine or human. Why? Because it is important that we “avoid the appearance of evil”, that we do not allow “what we call good to be called evil” and that we do not rejoice when our “enemy stumbles”. As the people of God, our response to the demise of OBL reflects upon our God and His Anointed. We must be wise.

Personally, I’m not certain that justice was done in that house in Pakistan. It seems that there is an appearance of justice. A violent man who lived a violent life died violently at the hands of men trained in violence. A murderer was murdered. A sinner received his wages. However we choose to phrase it, there is clearly a symmetry in OBL’s life and death. But, I’m not sure that symmetry is a synonym for justice. I’m not certain that a “just” end can be achieved through (possibly) unlawful means. I question whether or not a “proper justice” (whatever that means) was even possible in this situation.

And because I’m not certain that justice has in fact been done, I do not rejoice. However, I believe that justice will be done. I believe that when Jesus judges the world and all of its people, he will do what is right. So, I’m not refusing to rejoice in God’s justice. I’m simply postponing the celebration.

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