The Death of bin Laden and the Limits of Justice
- Monday, May 02, 2011
But open patriotic celebration in the streets? That looks far more like revenge in the eyes of a watching world, and it looks far more like we are simply taking Proverbs 24:17-18. That kind of revenge just produces greater numbers of enemies.
The second troubling aspect is just part of what it means to live in a world in which true justice is always elusive. Osama bin Laden is dead, but we never had the satisfaction of seeing him arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced. We were robbed of the satisfaction of seeing the evidence against him laid out, and seeing him have to answer the world about his murderous actions and plans. We were robbed of the moral satisfaction that comes by means of a fair and clear verdict, followed by a just and appropriate sentence.
We have been robbed before. History is filled with examples of opportunities lost because events did not allow. Bin Laden said he would never be taken alive. He was true to his words, and he died in the midst of a firefight. It was the best we could hope for under these circumstances, and there was more than adequate justification for his death. But we still should feel the loss of the greater satisfaction of human justice.
Once again, Christians are reminded of the inherent limitations of justice in a fallen and sinful world. At our very best, we can achieve only a small proportion of adequate justice. We can convict the murderer, and we can put him to death, but we cannot bring the dead back to life. We can put an end to Osama bin Laden, but we are robbed of the satisfaction of seeing him answer for his crimes.
We did the best we could do, and that is often where we are left. We are left with a sense of sober satisfaction. This is no small comfort to all those who are still grieving — the loved ones of September 11, and the loved ones of all who have lost their lives while wearing the uniform of the United States fighting bin Laden and the forces of terror.
But, as is always the case, we are left with a sense that a higher court is still needed. Christians know that Osama bin Laden escaped the reach of full human justice and a trial for his crimes, but he will not escape the judgment that is to come. Bin Laden will not escape his trial before the court of God. Until then, sober satisfaction must be enough for those still in the land of the living.
A special edition podcast of “The Briefing” was dedicated to this subject this morning. It can be heard here, or accessed at iTunes. http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/05/02/the-briefing-159/
Publication date: May 2, 2011
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