Monday, May 9, 2011

Assassination, Justice, Secularism, and Moral Equivalency

Doug Wilson has a helpful post summing up his thoughts on the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

To those who would question the justice of assissination from a biblical perspective, Wilson answers:

1. Assassination is not necessarily an ungodly tactic. Ehud was a righteous judge in Israel, and he was used by the Lord in the assassination of Eglon (Judg. 3:21). It is not to be condemned out of hand.

2. The biblical response to this kind of thing is not uniform. There is a sense in which we are to say that God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11), and that would include the death of this wicked man. Yet there is another sense (not contradictory, but in paradox), in which God delights to execute judgment in the earth. As believers, we do not privilege one over the other. We long for Him to judge the nations with equity (Ps. 98:9), and this means that some people are going down. Lest anyone say that this is an Old Testament mentality, I will just say that the only time in the New Testament when the saints say Hallelujah is when they are watching the smoke ascend from the ruins of Babylon. And so how do we reconcile this love of mercy and this longing for justice? To reapply a comment of Spurgeon's, we don't. There is no need to reconcile friends. God gave us two hands, and mercy goes in one and justice in the other, and we lift them both up to God. The judge of the whole earth will do right.
Secularism, Wilson maintains, leaves us unable to respond to Bin Laden's death in a satisfactory way:

3. In moments such as this, secularism leaves us bereft of any appropriate response. If there is no God above us, who trains our Seals for battle (Ps. 144:1), then we are left with two options, both of them bad. We are left without an appropriate vocabulary for our victories. Either we get a glorying in American military prowess, of the chest bumping variety, which is just obnoxious -- what Obama called spiking the football -- or we mistreat our warriors the way David did after the defeat of Absalom. But the only real alternative is to give glory to God. But that turns it into a religious war, and the secularists can't have that. So we are left with hubristic Americanism, or skulking home after the triumph. Gakk.
For those who seem unable to distinguish between the actions of terrorists and the United States Wilson writes:

7. As I have written before, we must not allow our awareness of our own sinfulness, and the fact that all of us die as a result of that sin, to flatten the distinctions between sins. There is such a thing as great evil, and to recognize the fact is not the equivalent of denying that you yourself have sinned. A man can say, with the old Puritan watching a man being taken off to be deservedly executed, "There but for the grace of God go I," without saying, "There am I, the grace of God notwithstanding." Christians should be the last people to allow the grace of God to be used as an instrument to blur moral distinctions. When Paul tells us that the magistrate does not bear the sword for nothing, but rather wields it to whack evildoers (Rom. 13:4), he does not hasten to add that the Roman cops are actually, theologically speaking, evildoers themselves and so should hasten to fall on their own swords. As I say, he does not say that.
Read the entire post HERE.


Mike said...

"then we are left with two options, both of them bad...either we get a glorying in American military prowess...or we mistreat our warriors the way David did after the defeat of Absalom."

Are those the only two options of viewing this from a secular perspective? I think there are more. Most secularists I know have not given up their categories for good/evil or right/wrong.

Todd Pruitt said...

Indeed, they have not given up those categories. The problem is that without God they have no good reason to hold those categories.