Last weekend there were two awful mass shootings. One occurred in Dayton, Ohio and was stopped in under a minute by law enforcement. The other occurred in El Paso, Texas and took longer to stop, with correspondingly higher casualties. Two deranged men with guns motivated by different surface ideologies gunned down defenseless people. In Dayton, one of the dead included the shooter’s own sister. Our hearts go out to the families of those who died and were injured. We at In His Image are praying for everyone involved. This is a senseless tragedy. The pundits in the media are running around like frightened children trying to figure out why it happened and how to prevent another tragedy. In all the mindless clucking, some important facts were left out. It’s time to set the record straight because we Christians have the answer to the problem.
Right now much of America is hurting. People are asking themselves why this happened. It is a fair question. People are hurting and they are recognizing a very key point. Human death is not natural. It hurts when someone you know dies. It does not hurt when a tomato plant in your garden dies. Why the difference? Why is human death different and how did we get there? While the media frantically blames mental health and guns (spoiler, neither one is the root cause), it behooves us to ask…why is there death anyway?
To answer that question, we need to go back a few years. About six thousand to be precise. In a Garden, specially created just for them, the first two humans, who were created perfect in the image of God, had a choice. God had warned them, if they disobeyed the one command He had given, they would surely die. (Gen 2:17) However, Satan, the serpent, came to Eve, the first woman, and offered her the possibility of being like God Himself. Eve bit on the lie and ate of the one tree she had been told not to eat. She then gave some to Adam, and he ate too. (Gen 3:1-7) As a result of that bad choice, death came upon all mankind. (Rom 5:12). This is referred to as the Fall of Man. Death is not natural to this world. It came about because of man! Man brought death into the world by his disobedience to a single command of God.
Because of man’s sin, God expelled them from the perfect Garden He had made for them. (Gen 3:24). Within the next century or and a half, there had already been a murder. Cain murdered his brother, Abel. (Gen 4:8). One thing we know, Cain did not need a gun. He most likely used a sharp stick or a rock. Blaming the weapon never solved the problem. London banned guns and was immediately faced with a spate of knife attacks. The problem is not the weapon. Nor is it mental health. Cain had the purest genetic stock of any child ever born to human parents. His parents DNA had only just marginally been corrupted after the fall and he was the firstborn. He if anyone should have been immune to the genetic breakdowns and brain damage that causes most mental illnesses. Yet he still killed.
If it is not a mental illness and not weapons, then what is the root cause? Our culture is infested with a malaise. It is called sin. Sin is natural to all humans since the fall of Adam and Eve but it has taken deep root in the western world. At the heart of the problem is the philosophy that man determines truth. If mankind is only a mixture of chemicals and you are not responsible for your actions, as is taught in all our public schools and the vast majority of our private schools, then there is no ultimate standard of right and wrong. If there is no such standard, then the mantra “if it feels good, do it” becomes the ruling paradigm. We are seeing the fruits of that in our western world. One shooter wanted to kill people he felt were a threat to people he cared about. The other wanted to kill people as a way of creating political havoc. In both cases, they did not view human life as more valuable than their aims. It felt right for them to advance their particular goal at the cost of human lives.
How did we get to this point? Historically in the west, human life was valued. However, what we are seeing is a natural consequence of our choices. In 1962 America essentially removed God from the school system by banning mandatory prayer and Bible reading. Before 1962, mass shootings at schools or really anywhere were essentially unknown. Students brought their guns to school in their vehicles. Very few to any were shot. Since 1962, when America stopped imposing a Christian worldview on the culture and started imposing a secular worldview on it, mass shootings have ticked up dramatically, as have most other forms of crime. If it feels good, do it. If there is no purpose in life, why not end someone else’s or your own if it benefits you?
Complaining about the past does not change the present or fix the future. We cannot become so fixated on what was that we neglect what is or what will be. Correcting this situation will not happen overnight because it did not begin overnight. However, if American Christians will stand on the whole Bible as the foundation for the Gospel, and give that Gospel to the hurting, broken world, it is possible to turn the west around. We will never have the past back, but we can influence the future. The world does not need a lecture about mental health or gun control from a talking head. The world desperately needs the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is up to us as a church to give them what they need.