I had originally intended to write my thoughts on the Sandy Hook incident and the political implications it has for us as a nation. I’ve read a lot of news coverage on the events of last Friday and I’ve read multiple perspectives on what happened there. I’ve read the pros and cons of banning assault weapons and other guns. I’ve examined the arguments for more mental health services and more guns. I’ve read about how a Christian is to respond to this situation. Now, I feel ready to write a little something about my own thoughts on the matter.
There’s been a lot of emphasis on the shooter’s choice of weapons and how we should respond to that. There have been cries for greater gun control by the left and the right has pushed back, per usual. It’s not my intent to really examine the merits of gun control, but I will say this: evil does not originate from objects. It originates from the human heart. No amount of well-meaning legislation will make a significant impact because people are evil regardless of what laws are placed on them. Evil is still evil. (To get a glimpse of what I mean, watch this testimony of a shooting victim explaining the futility of banning “high-capacity magazines”.) It doesn’t make sense to me that banning a certain kind of weapon will somehow lessen the intent or willingness of an individual to murder.
As mentioned, the responses from both sides of the political spectrum have been typical and expected. Being a conservative Republican, I obviously agree more with the GOP’s general sentiment that if there had been an armed guard at the school, the shooting would have been much different. However, there is something lacking in the “conservative Republican” response and that is that there has been a call for more “mental health” resources to help those deemed mentally ill. Let’s be honest here and call this incident what it is: sin. The shooter at Sandy Hook didn’t have a mental instability that forced him into the school and let loose a violent carnage that resulted in 20+ people dead. He had an evil desire, and that desire grew and when it matured, it resulted in death (eerily similar to what James 1:15 says). Now, that’s not to say that he wasn’t “chemically affected”. In fact, his medication may have actually contributed to the incident. Young men who experience “mental instability” and are then medicated are often the ones behind the trigger.
I think that it’s a mistake to focus on mental illness because it denies responsibility to the shooter or their parents (if applicable). It’s easy to pass off a tragedy such as this as the actions of “a lunatic”. But it’s harder to face the reality that this kind of atrocity is a calculated kind of evil. We don’t like facing that kind of reality because it informs us about something within ourselves. If this young man is capable of such violence, am I? (For a more succinct and in-depth exploration of the responsibility Christians have to reject psychobabble in favor of a Biblical doctrine of depravity, see this excellent post by blogger ChantryNotes).
There is one element that is missing from the conversation. Of course, I certainly don’t expect the media to pick up on it. There has been a lot of focus on the children who lost their lives, and rightly so. I don’t know the final destination for any of those who died, but I pray that those children are with Jesus. On the other hand, the shooter is generally portrayed as a monster beyond saving. But…
He is just as much a monster as I.
Think for a moment if this guy had been radically transformed by Jesus Christ before he died (for the sake of argument, we can assume that he was captured and had a chance to hear the Gospel). By God’s grace, he would be transformed from a degenerate into a living member of God’s adopted family, and he would go to heaven. We indignantly ask God, “How can someone who murdered more than 20 children be welcome in your kingdom?” He gently responds, “Because of the blood.” Jesus took the punishment for sin, and if the Sandy Hook shooter can be welcomed into God’s kingdom, in spite of what he did, then it means that the blood of Christ is far more precious than we can ever imagine. The vilest atrocities in this life cannot bar us from the love of Christ. If the same blood that washes us could wash that man, then that is a humbling reality. It means that our sins are far more evil than we ever thought possible because Jesus died the same death for us. The same blood that can save a mass murderer also cleanses us.
Every time something like this occurs, it is an opportunity to return to Christ. Don’t let this one pass you by.