Ever since the shootings at Newtown, Connecticut, people have been commenting on the causes of this tragedy. Some immediately began calling for more gun control while, after an appropriate length of time, the head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, said (logically): “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” The alternative is no guns at all, which most Americans do not want, and the only ones who would abide by such laws would be the good guys; bad guys would still have access to them because by definition they do not obey laws. Are there some reforms that might make society safer? Perhaps. Laws vary from state to state. Some of these might be improved, but better laws alone will not solve the problem.
We have laws against Driving Under the Influence, yet a Dallas Cowboys’ player just a few weeks ago was guilty of doing that very thing, which resulted in his friend and teammate being killed. Has anyone called for a ban on alcohol? According to the National High-way Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimat-ed 10,228 people in 2010 died from drunk driving acci-dents. Unfortunately, those deaths are not the only evil results of alcohol, but no one is calling for stricter laws.
In 2010, all traffic deaths amounted to 32,885, which is about the same amount of deaths reported for guns, but who is calling for a ban on automobiles? Most of us see irresponsible drivers every day; they only escape from causing accidents by the fact that careful drivers are watching out for them and can react quickly enough to avoid crashes.
The point is that society is probably not going to fix this problem with laws concerning guns, and indeed it may not be resolved at all, but there is another consid-eration, and that is trying to restore the moral values that this nation once had and which we have lost over the past five decades—not only with respect to life but Biblical morality as well.
A Culture of Death
Also getting a share of the blame in the recent shooting is the fact that we live in a society that pro-motes violence, which is true. The body count in several movies over the past few decades has been extremely high. Some of these are far more graphic than others and certainly may leave indelible impressions upon young people. Add to that the fact that the same actors who play the villains in one movie may also be seen in another and another. We all know that it is only “entertainment” and that no one really gets hurt. Does that mean (for some) that if they shoot someone in real life, he will not really die? It might for a young and im-mature person, but such an attitude could only rarely be the case.
Video games have likewise been criticized for their violence—and perhaps rightly so. Shooting people and blowing things up could well be a contributing factor for some to go on a shooting rampage. But we ought to remember that, although it is worse now, most of us have grown up with Westerns and War movies, yet we did not feel compelled to shoot others. Of course, we had a context. Shooting and killing others was in self-defense and for self-preservation. Has that context been lost? Yes, we have many movies and television programs where the killers are portrayed as admirable or likeable, in a perverted sort of way. Discernment is not easy when the bad guys appear as heroes and the good guys are little better than the villains.
But despite all of these influences, it is still the case that, at the beginning of time on earth, Cain killed his brother Abel. He did not use a gun; he had not played video games or been influenced by movies. When people choose to practice evil, there is no safeguard. It goes with the concept of free will. However, if God had eliminated the possibility of evil, He would have at the same time eliminated the opportunity for good.
The Attitude Toward Morals
As long as the world stands, therefore, evil will dwell among us. Human beings will be shot, knifed, or blown up. Wars will continue, and accidents will hap-pen. Does that mean that nothing can be done? No, it just means that, despite society’s best efforts, evil will never be eradicated. Tragedies shall always be part of the fabric of daily living. But we could do much better than we are. Two things need to be changed, and they both involve the attitudes of the American public.
The first concerns a return to the moral values in which we once stood, with a recognition that these values come from God Himself. As one Christian recently wrote, we ought to be far more concerned over going over the moral cliff than the financial cliff. We will likely not get any support from the ACLU on this issue, but the rest of society needs to quit letting a small minority dictate and bind their philosophy upon the rest of society. Many people will not like these suggestions, either, but the reason is that they are thinking with their emotions rather than using logic.
The fact is that God created us and told us what works and what does not work as far as human relationships go. Think about the two greatest commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength; 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. Those motivated by these two principles will be kind, generous, and helpful to others. Those who are not will be prickly, spiteful, malicious, miserly, and selfish. Anyone can pretty well determine what motivates most people by observing their actions. Now the question to consider is: “Which philosophy causes most of the problems in society?
The first is based on Biblical values; the second is not. Obviously, the first is preferable for all of our sakes. So, why does the second prevail? Many of our current problems stem from trying to marginalize God in the public forum. Some insist that every time something is public, it must remain totally secular. Prayers cannot be offered practically anywhere in public (except Congress); one must be careful not to mention God or the Bible in graduation speeches. It is clear that God is to be kept hidden from the public view. If not, someone will face an expensive lawsuit.
Why do people allowed themselves to be bullied and manipulated? The reason may have something to do with the fact that Christianity does not approve of whatever their sin of choice is, and rather than stand up as they should, they remain silent because they are afraid they might be picked on next. It is easier to give into the secularists than it is to take responsibility for one’s actions. Many do not want to face up to their own bad behavior; so they are willing to let that of others slide even when it may be far worse than what they are doing. Most sins are committed for selfish reasons; what else is stealing all about? We need to return to the values set forth by God in the Scriptures; all of those points that follow stand or fall together.
1. God created man and woman, and He designed the sexual relationship for marriage (Gen. 2:18-25). All who desire the physical benefits of marriage without making the commitment that goes with it are being selfish, and it is time for them to admit it. Those who declare they are “in love” with each other and are just expressing their feelings may be fooling themselves—but probably not anyone else—certainly not God. Anyone who loves another, by definition, does what is in the other person’s best interests. It is not in anyone’s best interests to be used and cast aside, face an unwanted pregnancy, or violate God’s precept of purity (1 Cor. 6:18).
Someone will likely counter by saying, “How does what two people do in private affect society?” For one thing, how many children born out of wedlock are receiving money from the government to pay for the sin committed privately? And then, what chance do those children have for a life outside the boundaries of poverty? Immorality always comes with consequences.
2. Another flaw of modern life is the high rate of adultery, and its cause is also rooted in selfishness. In-stead of trying to resolve problems within the home, many reach out to someone else for comfort or validation. The idea of an “affair” (which doesn’t have near the sinful ring of adultery to it) seems exciting and appealing, and it masks the selfishness of the participants and the potential damage that it will probably cause. The results are often clearly seen in the amount of broken homes and those which have remained intact but are still hurting.
3. The previous subject brings us to this one—divorce, since it is so often related. First, many choose to marry someone despite warning signs and advice from friends. Christians really ought to consider the character of a prospective mate. Many have ignored warning signs and either had to live in a less-than-ideal situation or have been forced to get a divorce later on due to infidelity. Most divorces involve selfishness on at least one party in the marriage. Frequently, one party refuses to take responsibility for his actions. And what are the results of divorce? Children grow up, being shuffled back and forth between parents and likely hearing evil re-ports of the father, the mother, or both. This country needs to restore marriage to its proper place of honor and respect. We need to abide by God’s plan for a man and a woman.
4. The idea of two men or two women being “married” is ludicrous and totally foreign to God’s plan. It will cheapen marriage even more than the first three items on this list and it will open the door to redefining marriage so broadly as to be meaningless. No one will be able to deny polygamy, nor marriage be-tween members of groups of people. God set forth His pattern in Genesis 2, and He has not altered it or authorized anything different under the Christian system. Will society take a stand for God—or not?
5. These four things alone would make a tremendous difference in today’s society, but people need to have the sense that God is our Creator. If evolution must be taught, then it should only be taught as a theory, and its consequences should also be taught. If mankind is here only as a result of a cosmic accident, then we are nothing special and are no different from apes, bats, or trees. We are all living things, and that about sums it up. Why should we mourn the loss of twenty children more than a forest fire? Some live, and some die; we live in a chance universe. If God does not exist, then how can values exist—or morals, ethics, and logic? When hurricanes or tornadoes destroy human beings, they do not sorrow or experience loss. If we are merely matter in motion, neither have we any basis for pity or sympathy. Concepts such as mercy, love and compassion do not come from nature; they come from God. We see what has happened to society when God and His values are ignored. We see more and more “senseless” crimes and greater selfishness than ever before.
Many accuse those who reject evolution as “unsci-entific”: so what scientific breakthroughs has evolution assisted with? Did that theory help put a man on the moon? What scientific achievements have advanced humankind that directly relate to the theory of evolution? When has anyone ever heard a scientist say, “We owe this fantastic medical or technological breakthrough directly to the discovery of Nebraska Man” (or even one that was not a hoax)? The theory of evolution deals with the origin of all things—not how things work. Creation is a better explanation, with the added bonus of being correct. Godless societies do not work well (con-sider the experiment of Liberal, Missouri). People need to be allowed to speak God’s name in public and to advocate what is Biblically correct. Many have reached adulthood without knowing much of anything about the true and living God.
The second attitude to restore is respect for human life—if our culture is to show any improvement. Many have begun to see the adverse effects of abortion. It aids in desensitizing ourselves to death. How many are upset that in 40 years almost 60,000,000 babies have lost their lives by means of abortion? People get upset over a few thousand Americans who have lost their lives in Afghanistan or maybe 50,000 in VietNam (which is a legitimate concern), but how many of those same protesters care about a number of deaths which is more than 1,000 times greater? More people be-come upset when a convicted killer is put to death than an innocent infant. Valuing life does not end with the unborn, but it certainly begins there.
We are told that gang members, as part of initiation, are sometimes called upon to kill someone. It does not matter who; it can be a random shooting. Allegiance to the gang is more important than the value of a human being. How have we become so callous? The past 100 years have seen a growing lawlessness in that regard, although a few have probably always been around. It does not help that writers and movie scripts reflect that same attitude.
This writer completed a book by Albert Camus the week of two shootings—the one in Portland, Oregon, at a shopping mall, and the one at the Sandy Hook school. Published first in 1942, The Stranger is a story about a man who is described as having no soul (which is accurate). He cares not for his mother. He does not grieve for her when she dies and does not even know her age. He knows a neighbor beats up his girlfriend, but it does not keep him from befriending him. Another man beats his dog, but he cares nothing about that either. He tells his fiancé that he does not love her, although he is willing to marry her, if she thinks they ought to. He kills a man for no particular reason and deems it about the same as if he did not kill him. He does not believe in God or an afterlife. Some of his words prior to his execution include these:
Nothing, nothing had the least importance, and I knew quite well why…. And on its way that breeze had leveled out all the ideas that people tried to foist on me in the equally unreal years I then was living through. What difference could they make to me, the deaths of others, or a mother’s love, or his God; or the way a man decides to live, the fate he thinks he chooses, since one and the same fate was bound to “choose” not only me but thousands of millions of privileged people…. All alike would be condemned to die one day… (152).
In other words, it makes no difference if we our-selves live or die because death will take us someday, anyway. There is no need to feel affection for others; we are just random individuals who live and die, having no particular purpose in existence. We need no ideology or morals by which to live. Whatever anyone else does is similarly irrelevant, for they are in the same position we are. Oddly enough, this book was published during WWII. It is doubtful that it raised the morale of the troops. It would not motivate anyone to do a single kind thing for anyone; it reflects utter selfishness.
This kind of thinking does result from the concept of evolution, and it has become more prevalent since the time this book was written. Many others have adopted the attitude of futility that the philosophy expresses. For that reason, people can shoot others and then kill themselves. They were going to die someday anyway. Why be considerate of anyone else? Only the most callous of individuals could commit such atrocities with no qualms and no conscience. Horrifying and unspeakable things will be done (many already have been).
Evil will always have the opportunity to exist, but we might make inroads against it by re-establishing a society that respects and values God’s Word. This is not something about which any of us can afford to be silent. Let culture, for once, do what is logical.