Killing is often necessary as a matter of justice—to pay a societal penalty for an irreversible act of violence; to protect and defend innocent people. And in times of war, incisive actions are often required in ways that have no place in ordinary criminal prosecutions. We should honor and praise the bravery of those in uniform who risked their lives to protect people around the world from a mass murderer.
Revenge is a cheap and inferior substitute to justice when it is delivered by human beings. It reflects a heart’s desire to make another person suffer, and delights in misery and pain. And it knows few limits in the misery and suffering it is willing to deliver.
Revenge is a prideful, selfish obsession in which the person assumes he or she actually has the personal power to right a wrong. The truth is, only God can right some wrongs.
Ultimately, the hateful spirit of human revenge deforms the soul of the person who carries it in his heart. And obsessive revenge actually allows the perpetrator of the wrong to take full control of the life, thought, emotions and hearts of those who despise him.
Bin Laden is dead and people around the world are safer for it. Human justice was served, but it will never bring back the innocent or heal the hearts of their loved ones who suffered at Bin Laden’s evil hands.
Let’s teach our children to reject the spirit of hateful revenge that destroys us, and rest in the fact that God’s justice does not end with this end of life as we know it. Let’s emblazon Romans 12:19 on our hearts:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’"