Anytime we hear of an unimaginable tragedy or an atrocity resulting in a loss of innocent life, we want an explanation. We need to make sense of what seems to be incomprehensible suffering. We need to process the information to get some semblance of closure. But when that atrocity is carried out at the hands of men, we need more than just an explanation. We need justice.
What that requires is finding out precisely who’s responsible and ensuring they receive exactly their due. But sometimes, pinning the blame squarely on the perpetrator doesn’t seem to suffice, especially when that perpetrator is now dead and gone.
In the wake of the most recent mass shooting in the United States, we’ve witnessed just that. Although the vile creature that gunned down 19 students and two teachers was shot dead, it feels as though justice has not yet been fully satisfied.
Predictably, there are those prominent Democrats who’ve laid the blame on the Second Amendment. The killer used a gun, and so, if we just rewrite the Constitution, and remove the part that says, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” then these sorts of atrocities shall be averted. Of course, anyone who says otherwise is then essentially accused of being just as guilty as the man that pulled the trigger.
The focus of the debate is fixed upon the weapon, as though a law that prohibits obtaining a gun would be a moral boundary too far for those determined to break the law that prohibits the killing of innocence.
Unfortunately, when these mass shootings take place, the conversation rarely delves any deeper than the killer’s weapon of choice. Devoid from the debate is any meaningful inquiry into the worldview that cultured the hatred behind the atrocious act. But more important than the question of how people are killing each other is why people are killing each other. Intentional actions are not to be isolated from reason and motive.
So, what ideas led the murderer to believe his actions were somehow justified? What was the worldview through which he viewed his helpless victims? Was he told their lives had no value? Was he convinced his actions were morally neutral outside of the collective mind? Was he taught that there’s no eternal accountability for earthly behaviour?
Ideas have consequences. Sometimes deadly consequences. That is, after all, where murder originates. Jesus said, it is from within, “out of the heart of man, that comes… murder” (Mark 7:21). Similarly, the proverbs tell us a man is shaped from the inside out. “As he thinks within his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
What this means is that if we’re serious about addressing this issue, then we ought to examine those things which shape and influence the heart. What are the ideas and ideologies that promote and provoke evil within? In other words, we need to get to the heart of the matter. Until then, we’re only trimming bad fruit off rotten trees.
It wasn’t always this way. In 2018, former Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, was questioned on this very matter. In his response, Bevin said it’s both naïve and delusional to suppose a new rule will resolve the issue. Bevin rightly noted that such atrocities do not stem from an absence of legislation, but the absence of a culture that promotes respect for the law, and more importantly, reverence for life.
It’s a cultural problem, Bevin said, noting that over the past five decades there has been a noticeable shift away from Christian ideals in the public square.
“When I was a kid, kids brought guns to school,” he said. “Kids brought guns on the school bus. Kids brought guns to school in their own vehicles. Kids didn’t shoot each other.”
Is it not worth considering whether the expulsion of Christianity, not just from public schools, but more importantly, from the home, has left a dangerous void in the hearts and minds of the young and impressionable? What has become of purpose, meaning, and morality? They’ve been reduced to mere matters of personal preference with no objective anchor or measure outside of one’s own imagination.
Is it not worth considering the consequences of wholeheartedly embracing the mainstream notion, now widely propagated in schools, that human beings are nothing more than the random, accidental by-products of Father Time and Lady Luck working on matter?
They told our children their lives have no real meaning outside of what they make of it. They said they have no ultimate purpose in life apart from that which they create. They told them there is no absolute moral standard to which we must conform, and therefore, no ultimate consequences for failing to meet that measure. They convinced them they merely exist as the offspring of violent beasts, the result of the strongest of their kind to have survived millions of meaningless years of brutal and bloody competition.
They were told to do whatever is right in their own eyes, and when they believed it, when they lived it, we’re shocked. How could they act like such beasts?
Is it not worth considering that we won’t see change until we restore that which has proved most effective to make change? A fact, becoming increasingly clear, is that our culture cannot reject Christ without embracing chaos.
We need Christianity at a personal and individual level — as husbands and wives, as fathers and mothers. That will make for strong families in which we raise and educate our children.
We need Christianity at a social level, within the schools, teaching our children to love, not just their friends, but their enemies. We need to teach our children to forgive as Christ forgave. We need to give our children hope and real purpose.
We need to point our children to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Because until then, they’ll remain lost in lies and death.
Noah Webster once described the Bible as “America’s basic textbook in all fields.” It is so essential, he said, that “education is useless without the Bible.”
“In America, the foundational religion was Christianity,” he said. “And it was sown in the hearts of Americans through the home and private and public schools for centuries. Our liberty, growth, and prosperity was the result of a Biblical philosophy of life. Our continued freedom and success is dependent on our educating the youth of America in the principles of Christianity.”
Let us not learn that lesson too late.
There’s no shortage of means of killing other human beings. And we can debate until we’re blue in the face about the most effective methods of banning those means. But is it not worth considering that maybe this isn’t the heart of the matter? It’s a matter of the heart.