I was just working on my Latin, and I translated a sentence to read, “Christians do not praise the slaughter of the enemy’s leading men.” That got me thinking, and now I have a question:
As Christians, should we not be happy that a terrorist or evil leader (ex: Osama bin Laden) is dead? Or, is it okay that we are happy because we know he can no longer hurt anyone? Is it one of those scenarios where intention really defines morality? Thank you!
As with many questions involving emotions it can be difficult to pin down. What constitutes “happy”…as opposed to “relieved” or “satisfied”, or “content”? Is one OK and another not?
The sentence you translated says do not praise - - I think it is really speaking to not “reveling” or “celebrating” the death of others. This does not mean we cannot be satisfied and feel relieved that the enemy is dead. If that constitutes “happy”…:shrug:
My take on that issue generally comes down to this:
Be relieved that he’s dead, because he cannot hurt anyone else.
Have pity on him, that the actions he took lead to his being killed.
Pray for him, that he may have experienced repentance before his death so that his death is not eternal. (This, assumes that he commit a grave sin, which only God can fully judge. We, as humans, must simply pray that, if he did, he found repentance.)
A great deal of it probably depends on your point of view. For men in battle, the death of an enemy means greater safety for them and their friends, so viewing it with relief is natural.
For people not in battle, it seems that being happy at the death of a person implies that we know enough to wholly judge the intent, views, and experience of that person. We may be glad that they’re not a threat, but we should not be happy that they have died not in a state of grace. If we say that they’re spending time in Hell now, then we’re assuming the judgment of God. And so on. It doesn’t help that war tends to be a shade of gray…bin Laden was once on our side when he was fighting Russians, then fought against us. How do we stand on that? And so on.
For my personal viewpoint, I’m not happy at the death of terrorists and others. It needs to be done, but it is unfortunate that it needs to be done. Even Hitler was a little boy, once.
i think you are referring to the times like Osama bin laden, that when it was announced he was dead that people went out into the streets to celebrate. This also has been done in executions in this country. I think it is a thin line to walk. I think the better response to the death of an evil person or someone that is responsible for the death and harm to others is not to do a dance but pause and think that we must be very careful here. Seeing someone die even though it is justice and deserved ought to bring humility and a realization that we ought to examine our own lives in repentance.
If all men are made for God, and they die in His enmity, that would seem to be something to mourn rather than to celebrate.
I understand what you mean. And after all, Pope Pius V instituted a feast for the Rosary after the Christians defeated the Turks at Lepanto. And when the Huns turned away from Paris and Rome there was celebrating. I would say it is one thing to celebrate the death of an enemy - and a wrong thing. It is another to celebrate the end of their evil on this Earth - and a good thing.
I think it is all about intention - whether we are being happy about the end of his evil, or gloating over the fact that he got shot. He was a person, and so his early death was a (justified and necessary) tragedy (and one brought about by his own choices, but no less tragic for that fact). Much better (though not terribly likely) should he have repented and surrendered. But obviously, the fact that he is no longer planning terrorist strikes is very good, and something to be happy about.
You appear to have assumed that “leading men” means leaders or commanders, but may I suggest an alternative understanding. The term “slaughter” suggests it refers to lower-ranking men, perhaps peasants who were conscripted, given little or no training, and put up front to soften the enemy. In modern times these men might be called cannon-fodder. When powerless men are forced to fight and die in those conditions, we should be saddened.
That is something that I can definitely agree with. When the Psalmist was singing about rejoicing at the downfall of his foes, I don’t think that it was the privates and the corporals that he had in mind.
I go back to the old “hate the sin, not the sinner” line. Specifically with Osama bin Laden’s death, I was happy that he could not continue committing sins, but I was sad that a person was killed whose soul was probably not saved. Think of lesser punishments than death like bank robbery. I can be happy that a person can’t rob banks and still be sad that they have to suffer (no matter how much it is deserved). Do you think God likes punishing people? No, I think he hates having to do that, but he knows it is necessary for justice.