Have you been thinking about the children lost at Uvalde? How can such senseless violence occur?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #26 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, TX.
Columbine high school (CO), Red Lake high school (MN), West Nickel Mines Amish school (PA), Sandy Hook elementary (CT), Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school (FL), Santa Fe high school (TX).
This somber list records the deadliest school shootings in the United States. It is horrendous. And worse, this list does not even include university shootings or innumerable other gun violence events in which injuries occurred but fewer or no fatalities.
Killing is always gut-wrenching, the killing of innocent children even more so.
Uvalde strikes us like Sandy Hook or West Nickel Mines. Children 6–10 years old. Who could do this? Who can understand this?
When it happens, we wonder how our Christian faith speaks to these kinds of events? What understanding does it provide?
In part, I believe we are living in the last days. I believe that as Jesus tarries his coming, we will witness an ever-greater impact of sin in this fallen world. In the last days, the Scripture tells us there will be (Rom 1, 2 Tim 3, 2 Peter 3, Jude 1):
• people who suppress the truth in their wickedness • terrible times • brutality • evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived • scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires • every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice • people who invent ways of doing evil • people who are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless • false teachers who introduce destructive heresies.
Things are indeed waxing worse and worse, and mass shootings are now a part of our lived experience.
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Life is cheap in these last days in multiple and various ways, e.g., abortion, death-dealing wars including what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine, random killings, systematic criminal killings like those occurring every weekend in Chicago, school shootings, church shootings, mall shootings.
What makes a young man want to kill children? Is he mentally ill as media often claim? Perhaps he is. I’m not negating the potential of some psychological programs to help troubled young men, if they can be identified and if they will seek help.
But perhaps more often he is not mentally ill. I find it difficult to accept the diagnosis “mental illness” when this shooter and so many others leave evidence that in days or even weeks running up to the event, they scoped out the location, purchased weaponry and ammo, planned what to wear and when to enter the facility, and sometimes planned to die in the process.
This kind of preparation speaks to intelligent if warped intention to me, not mental illness. In most of these cases, the issue at bottom is not psychological or social but moral. The shooter is simply given over to sin. The root of this sin could be his own heart, the individuals around him, the absence of individuals around him, particularly no father in his life, or a declining, morally decrepit American culture. Or it is all the above.
Whatever the source, sin works out as an uncontrollable rage making the young man not only to want to die (mass shooters are often suicidal) but to take as many people with him when he goes as he can.
Rage, an evil emotion-then-behavior rooted in twisted feelings of rejection, inadequacy, loneliness, alienation, and a hopelessness that leads him to believe the lie that the only way his life can have meaning is to end it by seeking revenge upon others in some sensational fashion. The shooter is ready to die and ready to kill in order to create some resentful, bitter, “I’ll-show-you,” meaning to his life.
This kind of evil can develop in the lone gunman or radical terrorists. It is Satan’s fake triumph, conquering the soul of a person created in the image of God who comes to believe God is not there or does not care and all that’s left is nihilism.
So, the primary challenge in the U.S. today is this: though we are “religious” with functioning dominant religions, yet our culture and millions within it are disconnected from profound spiritual moorings. We’ve rejected moral parameters in the mistaken belief our fate is in our own hands, or rather in our own feelings. We think we are social creatures of our own making. We control our own destiny.
Except this doesn’t work, and ironically, it is the disillusioned young gunman who discovers this create-yourself approach to life is found wanting, when what he sees around him and within him offers no hope.
We live in a fallen world where sin is real, and the Devil is the Prince of the power of the air. So evil events will happen. This is not fatalism. It is realism.
We do not know why God allows tragic events like Uvalde. We do know that he knows why and is engaged day by day. This, too, is realism, the truth.
This is where our Christian belief and our testimony should speak to the moment. We know the God of the Bible is present, loves, and provides a path to healing and hope. So, our response to heinous events in which innocent children are gunned down in the U.S. should be multi-layered:>
1. Weep with those who weep. Mourn with those who mourn. Pray for the families involved. This means more than bland comments like “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
2. We don’t blame God, and we help others understand that in the face of evil our God is still sovereign, holy, and just. We must speak and live out this truth in love.
4. We do not live in fear but trust the Lord with our own safety. We know, “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore,” (Ps 121:7-8).
The best remedy for hopelessness is hope. Christians of all people should understand this.
Our culture, many troubled souls living near us, and these confused and damaged young men need God’s message of reconciliation, of love, of hope. And it is our time, our moment as believers to share this message.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pet 3:15).
Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com. And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022
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