In the time since the Sandy Hook murders, volumes have been written about it and boundless hours of commentary have been offered. Of course the big question is, “Why?”. Though some have pretty much nailed it down correctly, most have missed it by a country mile and have gone off on wild tangents blaming guns, etc., while refusing to address those practices that are both encouraging and sustaining our culture of violence. Thoughts presented on these pages are only part of the answer, and they are not original. The point, however, is that though they would help destroy the breeding environment for violence, they will never be culturally or politically accepted for obvious reasons.
Similar to those academics who tow the line of “scientific correctness” by endorsing the theory of evolution, the gun-blamers don’t really want to know the truth behind violence because it inherently makes demands upon their consciences; something too awkward for them to face honestly. If the same kind of logic and analyses these self-appointed authorities use to examine the culture of violence were used in the pursuit of most anything else, like a cure for cancer for example, they would be labeled as nut-case, pseudo scientists and summarily dismissed from any research team.
As unbiased observation is the only faculty required in order to understand that humans did not evolve from lower life forms, so, too, that same unbiased observation is the only faculty necessary in order to understand that this ongoing program of violence does not stem from guns, primer-caps and 30-round magazines. Hypocritical politicians and other social engineers insist that violence is rooted in what people do, but the biblical truth is that violence is the result of who people are. And, since clear-headed thinking is in direct conflict with the modern emphasis upon starry-eyed humanism this truth is rejected out of hand.
Isaiah, the ancient Hebrew prophet, said that humans are “like sheep that have gone astray”. Nothing has changed in 2700 years. Many people, like sheep which have a herd mentality, are unthinking when it comes to some issues, and thus simply default to whatever opinion they hear the most about from whomever it is they believe in. Like sheep which do not think critically, they accept it without pause.
God has told us a number of times to “consider” things; that is, to think critically about our world. Critical thinking, you see, does not oppose faith, nor does it take the place of faith. It is a God-given ability, even more-so a God-given responsibility, the exercise of which is vital to the process of making sane decisions.
In essence the way people act comes from their own sense of who they are, which is found in their hearts. That is not to say people will act upon every thought and inclination that comes to mind, but it is to say that what they do act upon is among all those thoughts and inclinations that reside in their hearts. Most people have sufficient discernment to know what to make public and what to keep private regarding the thoughts of their hearts. Going farther into this thing, however, Christians understand that even some private thoughts can be sin as Jesus explained in Matthew 5:27,28. But, in context of the law it is not illegal to harbor a thought no matter how felonious it might be.
Well, if a person’s actions manifest who they are in their heart, then the next consideration must address what is it that influences their heart. The heart, somewhat closely akin to the conscience in the spiritual context, is malleable at an early age. That is, it can be programed to a particular worldview. As a child grows that window of influence becomes narrower until the conscience, or worldview, is completed. After that point it becomes very difficult to change. This emphasizes the importance of what is poured into a child’s mind whether from TV, movies, classrooms, the internet, video games, books, etc. What must not be missed is that these venues take advantage of the Adamic nature which is fundamentally open to most all things evil. It does not take a genius to see such things make a person into who they are, and thus how they act.
There seems to be no end to the reality a child can experience in modern video games. With tactile feedback abilities a child can not only control and see computer images, but can also feel certain actions. Modern games can immerse a user into a situation to such a degree that one’s mind might have trouble distinguishing computer images with reality. When a child, or even an adult, has killed thousands of people in such virtual reality, perhaps the heart becomes calloused to the mayhem. Maybe then it becomes easy to transfer the lust for blood-letting from a video controller to a weapon. A great many people believe the image of a bloody video game controller should be the real mental picture of violence today.
This has been so from the beginning. When Satan tempted Eve he appealed to her heart. Though there was no sin yet in her being, the three points of his approach found their target in her will and made her conscious of an aspect of her being she had not before considered. The result of her sin was seen by the condition of humanity just prior to the flood; that is, every desire of people’s hearts was only evil, and this dictated the way they lived. Judgment soon came.
Violence stems from thoughts born in a rebellious heart. It is spiritually dead (separated from God) and the direct result is it decays spiritually. That which has no life is dead and decays, and decaying things attract vermin. Clearly, the vermin of blood-letting thrives in Godless cultures. The connection between America’s spiritual death, her full-blown callousness regarding the sanctity of life and the plague of growing violence is obvious to any honest observer.
Humanists believe that education and environment are effective tools in dealing with the problem. They also believe early identification of disturbed people and immediate intervention will help stop violence. There is something to be said for such efforts, but in the long term they are not up to the task because they do not address what forms a person’s worldview and its influence upon their conduct. Change a person’s worldview and their conduct is changed.
Humanists err because they do not accept the fact that the human heart is inherently evil, as Jeremiah said. Though there are certainly different degrees of the manifestation of this evil, all hearts are evil by default being tainted by the Adamic nature. The truth is that only the presence of the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart. Examples of this are many from the Apostle Paul, who called himself the greatest of sinners, to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who became a Christian while in prison just eight months before he was beaten to death by a fellow prisoner. [For more on how God changed the heart of such an extraordinarily evil man see: Ratcliff, Roy with Lindy Adams. Dark Journey, Deep Grace: The Story Behind a Serial Killer’s Journey to Faith. Leafwood Publishers, (2006).]
So, what is to be done? First, we must understand that nothing will fully stop violence because this world has not, and will not make Jesus Lord. We sometimes see signs on private property next to city limit signs that say, “Jesus is Lord over Amite”, or whatever town it might be. Yes, He overrules in the affairs of mankind, but be assured Jesus is not Lord over Amite, nor is He Lord over America. The town council has not voted on the proposition, and neither has the Congress.
Thus, any solution, no matter how biblical in nature it might be, will not work perfectly because it would be imposed upon a society that is rebellious and stiff-necked. Still, several things could be done to move in the right direction. Though it will not happen in reality, it is noteworthy to just see what one might look like.
Accepting divine order as the template for the home and society. That means fathers and mothers would become dads and moms thus going beyond a mere biological relationship with their kids to the place of having a spiritual relationship with them. Boys would learn to be men, and girls would learn to be women, a very basic but much ignored concept today. Boys are no longer taught how to be masculine maybe because the government has taken over their responsibility to provide for and protect their women and children. Women are no longer taught how to be feminine maybe because secularism has convinced them that equality means sameness and that the best man for the job is a woman.
Would this reduce violence? Yes. Why? When children are raised by two godly parents (a man and a woman, by the way) their consciences are formatted with the biblical worldview. This worldview implants in children’s hearts some very important truths. Truths like love is sacrificial, virtue is noble, respect is honorable and the family and the world do not exist for their sole benefit. Truths such as a man does not seek confrontation and chooses his reaction with godly maturity and restraint, that the legal system is the means to settle volatile differences, and that non-action is better than an action that victimizes the innocent. At the same time there is implanted the equally important truth that God does not demand that a man allow his family to be harmed and his possessions to be plundered in the name of peace and security.
This kind of home and worldview does a number of things. It reduces sexual immorality which reduces illegitimacy which reduces dysfunction which reduces violence. It also reduces the entitlement mentality which reduces economic death by taxation which increases opportunity which reduces violence.
Would this work? Yes. Will it be advocated? No. The reasons are many, but related. While madly pursuing narcissism, modern American society bewails tragedies like Sandy Hook with great emotion and fan-fare, but rejects any biblical plan that might work because it would innately be in opposition to the perverted worldview that has people so infatuated. Said another way, people want to live with sewer-level morals, produce parentless children, pursue every pleasure and become rich producing violent games while at the same time somehow avoiding the consequences. Hypercritically, in any other context secularists would label such thinking as pure, undiluted insanity.
The twisted worldview that incubates violence is akin to an amphetamine rush that artificially exhilarates the mind and elevates the senses to a state of hyper-sensitivity. But, the highs progressively become lower and the crashes progressively become harder and death quickly arrives. Social décor requires weeping and wailing when tragedy happens, but the real cause is ignored while the crisis itself is exploited by despots in order to implement repressive political moves.
Consider that people who use profanity do so not because they have no other choice and not even because they like the shock-effect. They do so because they voluntarily entertain the primordial urge to unleash the filth that thrives and breeds in their wretched hearts. Unprovoked violence, including mass murder, happens for the same reason. No amount of education — not even the high-brow variety — and no kind of pristine, orchestrated environment can fix it because superficial solutions cannot address sin-tainted spiritual DNA.
The truth regarding Columbine, Sandy Hook and other shooting tragedies will never be welcomed by the Oval Office, the Congress, the Supreme Court or the editor of The New York Times because the truth is not wanted. Truth, you see, sets people free and free people are difficult to brainwash. But, Christians know what God has said about these things and it would be of great value if we would talk about them from the biblical perspective. Most people will never know the truth about what is happening in these last days prior to Jesus’ return except they hear it from a student of the Bible.
King David knew a lot about the darkness that envelopes the unreformed human heart. Read anew and meditate on Psalm 119:9-16 for a fresh look at His 3000 year-old take on the connection between God’s word and man’s heart. Today’s tragic headlines will not become more palatable, but they will become more understandable.
Email for Don McGee: firstname.lastname@example.org