Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Taking pleasure in the death of the wicked

Some Christians are tut-tutting Americans who celebrate the death of bin Laden. They quote Ezk 33:11 to make their point.

I’d simply point out that this is a fallacious inference. And it’s fallacious for the simple reason that God isn’t human.

Imagine saying that unless God takes pleasure in a backrub, it’s sinful for you or me to take pleasure in a backrub.

Ezk 33:11 doesn’t imply that it’s always wrong for humans to take pleasure in the death of the wicked. By the same token, it doesn’t imply that it’s sometimes right for humans to take pleasure in the death of the wicked. It doesn’t speak to the issue one way or the other.

There are certainly cases in which our attitude ought to align with God’s attitude. But that’s something you have to establish on a case-by-case basis. There’s no general presumption to the effect that whatever God finds pleasant, we ought to find pleasant–or whatever God finds unpleasant, we ought to find unpleasant.

Maybe it’s wrong for Christians (or Americans) to “take pleasure” in the death of bin Laden. But you can’t derive that conclusion from quoting Ezk 33:11. That’s logically and theologically invalid, for the analogy is equivocal. 

1 comment:

  1. Should we be relieved that an amoral monster can no longer harm another living being? I think so. Should we be heartened by the fact that the figurehead of the largest terrorist movement in the world can no longer inspire others to do as he did? I think so.

    At the same time, I don't find his death uplifting in the same manner that I would if a relative were cured of cancer or if I were reunited with a dear friend from long ago, say. It was a nasty end to a nasty life. I'm not sure I see anything "pleasurable" here. To revel in the death of one's enemies (vile as this P.O.S. was) and participate in merrymaking seems to debase and corrupt the purer and more innocent joys of this life.

    But I understand the sentiment all the same, I suppose.