I asked this question on our Children's Ministry Magazine facebook page: "I'm just wondering...and would love to hear what people who serve children think. With the death of Osama Bin Laden and the ensuing celebrations, how do you think that influences the way children see the world? Good, bad, or indifferent?"
For this blog, I'd like to highlight a few from very insightful responses to give you tips on how to talk with children about Bin Laden's death--from a biblical perspective. You can also share this with parents in your ministry.
Don't avoid the issue. It's highly unlikely that your children--even young children--have heard nothing about this issue. So ask them if they have any questions about it. This will help you to gauge what they're thinking.
Talk about good vs. evil. Osama Bin Laden was a man who did very evil things, and the government's role is to stop criminals. As Christians, we are never happy when evil occurs. Dina DeLucchi Moriarty said, "I told my daughter that Osama bin Laden was a man who did evil deeds. I referred to Romans 13:1-4 about govt. I am glad he was caught because he caused terror and trained terrorists; his deeds were EVIL."
Don't rejoice over someone's death. While it's appropriate to rejoice over the end of evil acts, be careful that you're not rejoicing over the death of a specific person. DeLucchi Moriarty also said, "Now, I did tell her this was not ...cause for celebration because while the Lord hated his deeds, he was still a soul that the Lord died for and wanted. The Bible speaks of angels rejoicing over a repentent sinner, not rejoicing over a sinner who goes to hell."
Talk about God's heart for sinners. Talk about how even though Bin Laden did very evil things, our loving God still loved him. God longed for Bin Laden to turn from his evil ways and turn to Jesus. That's not to say that God didn't want him to stop doing evil deeds; of course he did. Laurie Hoover-Atwood said, "Personally I believe God would be sad to see all the celebrations over his death, even though he did evil things. The Bible clearly tells us God is saddened and would rather they turn from their wicked ways and have life. (Ezek 18:23)."
Mary Calawa told her third and fourth graders: "An evil man who killed others was himself killed. I said that I was glad he was dead, so that he cannot hurt others. But sad that he would never, ever get to be with God because of the choices he made."
Explain the difference between relief and rejoicing. Susan Bunning Querfeld said, "There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden was an evil man who embraced evil practices; I understand the reasoning behind the operation that took his life and I am glad that he will no longer be able to harm others. However, I believe that as ...Christians we can NEVER rejoice in or celebrate the death of someone who does not know Christ as his Savior. 1 Peter 3:9 says that God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. That includes men such as Bin Laden."
Talk about justice. Whenever someone commits a crime, they must pay. Jessica Stemmerding said, "We are a military family...we don't exactly celebrate Osama's death so much, but we do believe that an enemy of God is an enemy to our family. My husband is currently deployed...so this event has special meaning. Daddy's risking his LIFE for us as well as for the world... I can't 'hide' the ugliness of war. My family lives it (spiritual battles), and my husband (both spiritual and physical)."
In closing, Heather Henry said, "This is the most thought provoking quote I have come across today. "I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." MLK Jr."