Thoughts on the Umpqua Community College Shootings

Umpqua Community CollegeOnce again, media feeds have been flooded with the news that another gunman has committed mass murder, this time at Umpqua Community College in rural Roseburg, Oregon. And, immediately, the outrage over the tragedy turned to the gun control debate. President Obama gave an impassioned speech calling for more gun control. Conservatives shot back with impassioned pleas to protect the Second Amendment. Social media filled with anti-gun and pro-gun memes, and political commentators began spouting their rhetoric. All within hours of the massacre.

President Obama stated, “…this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.” With all due respect, Mr. President, can’t we at least wait until the bodies of the victims are cold before we start politicizing? And, rather than politicizing, can’t we have an honest discussion without the partisan political posturing and rhetoric? Can’t we seek to find solutions, rather than using tragedy to further political agendas?

Obama Umpqua Community CollegeI would agree with the President, who stated, “…our thoughts and prayers are not enough.  It’s not enough.  It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel.  And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.” However, I would respectfully disagree with him that the answer to the problem of mass murders is to further restrict guns. I would also respectfully disagree with gun rights advocates that the answer is expanded conceal-carry rights and unrestricted access to weapons. Guns are neither the cause of horrific incidents of mass murder, nor are they the solution.

Heinous maniacs do not need guns to commit atrocities. Timothy McVeigh, the 9-11 terrorists, and the Tsarnaev brothers prove this point. Gun-free zones do nothing to deter gun violence, but simply advertise a soft target to a would-be mass murderer. Tightened restrictions on background checks and gun registration would make it more difficult for psychopaths to legally purchase a weapon, but would do nothing to keep them from being stolen or illegally purchased. Deranged individuals who are determined to inflict mass casualties will obtain weapons capable of accomplishing their plans, whether gun ownership is restricted, or not. And, these same maniacs will continue to commit atrocities, even if a large percent of the population legally carries concealed handguns.

Focusing on guns as either the cause or the solution to mass murders is a lot like focusing on cars as the cause or solution to drunk driving. The issue with drunk driving isn’t the cars, it’s the drivers; and the issue with mass murders isn’t guns, it’s maniacs with a distorted sense of morality.

The President stated, “Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws.” With all due respect, Mr. President, the problem isn’t with the laws. The problem is spiritual.

In order to solve any problem, it is essential to understand the root causes. And the root cause of gun violence in the United States isn’t guns; it’s the loss of our moral foundation.

The United States was founded on Biblical moral principles. Many of the first settlers came to America seeking religious freedom. Our legal system was based on principles found in Scripture. Almost everyone, whether Christian, or not, held to a worldview based on the belief that morality is absolute. Although people disagreed on the specifics, and some practices – such as slavery – were obviously immoral, the predominant belief was that right was right, and wrong was wrong. God was honored, morality was absolute, and culture was founded in Biblical principles.

This is no longer the case.

there_is_no_godWe now live in an increasingly secular culture where God and Biblical principles have been largely rejected. Right and wrong have generally been replaced by situational ethics and relative morality. Most liberals seem to be obsessed with hedonism and radical socialism, and most conservatives seem to be obsessed with selfishness and greed. We have devalued human life. Children are taught that they are accidents of nature, nothing more than highly evolved pond scum. We have dehumanized the unborn. Most people support the right of a woman to intentionally murder her own unborn child, and then they wonder why we’re “numb” to mass killings. God is ignored, mocked, and suppressed. Atheists claim He doesn’t exist. Most people believe He exists, but live as though He doesn’t. Even most so-called Christians live as though the Word of God is merely a list of suggestions, rather than absolute truth. When people are told over and over that they are nothing more than animals, that they have no intrinsic value, that truth and morality are whatever they want to believe, and that there is no deity that will hold them accountable for their actions, why are we surprised when some of them snap and actually act in a manner consistent with such beliefs?

md167the-meaning-of-life-james-frey-postersYes, Mr. President, we need to have serious discussion about the epidemic of mass murders in the United States. We need to have thoughtful discussions about racism, greed, hedonism, hatred, division, oppression, and lawlessness. These things are called sin, and yes, we need serious and open dialog about them. And yes, Mr. President, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need actual change. However, the change we need is not political change. It’s not a change in laws – it’s a change of heart. We need repentance. We need to turn again to the Truth. We need to turn to Jesus Christ.

We have, as a nation, rejected the reality of the Biblical God. We have instead embraced the lie of autonomy apart from God. And, because we have built the American worldview on something other than the reality of God, that worldview is necessarily irrational and devoid of truth. It’s no wonder people act irrationally and some people kill others – they’re just being consistent with what they’ve been indoctrinated to believe.

Some will claim this argument is invalid, because most people don’t kill others. I would respond by saying that most people are inconsistent with what they claim they believe, and far more consistent with Biblical truth. If people truly believed that we’re nothing more than cosmic accidents with no intrinsic value and that morality is just an illusion, then we’d have mass murderers all over the place. We don’t, because people deep down inside know that God exists. We all know right from wrong because God makes it evident, even though we all suppress that truth. Unfortunately, some people completely lose touch with reality, and that’s why we have psychopaths who kill others.

Restricting gun ownership won’t prevent mass murders. Neither will expanded gun rights. We are having the wrong discussion. The only cure for America’s problems is Jesus Christ. That’s what we need to discuss. Unfortunately, that’s also the discussion nobody wants to have. It’s much easier to blame guns and politics than to blame ourselves, repent, and turn to Jesus Christ.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today.  May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back.  And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change. ~ President Obama, October 01, 2015

Yes, Mr. President, may God bless and comfort the families of the slain, and strengthen the wounded. And yes, I pray God gives our nation the courage to change – change our hearts, and turn to Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

Great Big Stupid World – Reaping What We Have Sown

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, and then massacred 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before taking his own life.

The staggering loss of innocent lives has left many asking, “Why?”

People blame everything from lack of gun control, to CIA conspiracies, to lack of treatment for the mentally ill, to video games and rap music, to media coverage and copycat murderers.

I believe our culture is simply reaping what it has sown.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

God in SchoolsAmerican society has learned to mock God. We have largely thrown God out of our schools, our media, our government, and our lives. God has been relegated to a few church pews, a couple of days a week, for a few hours, for a handful of people who are considered by most as relics of the past.

Most children are taught in school that they are accidents of nature and nothing more than animals, albeit somewhat more evolved than most, rather than being created in the image of God, Who loves them. Then we wonder why they act like animals.

Much of our modern music and many video games glorify killing, drugs, sex, and death. Then we wonder why teen pregnancy and abortion rates are so high, and why someone would walk into a school or mall and start shooting people.

Television portrays God as a myth, Christians as intolerant bigots, fathers as idiots, and the traditional family as irrelevant. Then, we wonder why Godly values are ignored, and why our kids are out of control.

As our culture has sown, so has it reaped.

The problem is not gun violence, drug abuse, rap music, abortion, greed, suicide, the education system, the Democrats, or the Republicans. These are just symptoms of a deeper problem. The real problem is that our culture mocks God. We have lost our foundation; we have rejected our Creator.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20

The United States was once blessed, because we were built on a Biblical foundation. That foundation is gone, and has been replaced by a humanistic foundation that says mankind can choose whatever he wants about right or wrong. When human beings decide what is right and wrong, we invariably choose wrong, and call it right. And in the process, we mock God.

Why do people like Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Seung-Hui Cho kill people? Psychologists will debate the causes, but from a Biblical perspective, I believe they simply act in a manner consistent with what society teaches them. Our culture taught them that human life is basically meaningless, that we are animals, and death and killing are glorious – a lesson they learned well.

Our culture is reaping what it has sown; the culture mocks God, then wonders why God doesn’t intervene.

How do we fix the problem? Not through politics, or social programs, or public education:

8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

God help us.

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church Part 5

The Barna Group, a leading Christian research and resource company that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture, published the article last September entitled, “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” This is the fifth in a series of articles in which I give my take on Barna’s conclusions.

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Most younger Americans have been taught to embrace relativism.  According to thefreedictionary.com, relativism is “a theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.”  In other words, what’s true for you may not be true for me, and we are to accept all views as equally valid.  Absolute, universal truth does not exist.

First, to claim that “absolute, universal truth does not exist” is self-contradictory, because the statement itself claims to be absolute, universal truth.  But, this is irrelevant to those who hold to this philosophy, because it’s true for them, even if it’s illogical for others!  Relativism leads to absurdity of thought; but, relativists don’t care if it’s absurd, because it’s not absurd to them.  Which is absurd, and gives me a headache.

The point is, our young people have been indoctrinated with a philosophy which holds that all religious viewpoints are equally valid.  Mormonism, Hinduism, Communism, Islam, Wicca, and atheism are just as valid and “true” as Christianity, despite the fact that the claims of each of these worldviews are vastly different and mutually exclusive.  All worldviews are equally valid, and all must be accepted as truth; otherwise, we are being “intolerant” and “hateful.”

This totally contradicts the Biblical view.  In John 14:6, Jesus stated, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus also stated in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  In Acts 4:12, Peter, speaking of Jesus, stated, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  There is no relativism in Christianity; there is only one truth, and all other viewpoints are false.

What can the church do to reach those with a relativistic worldview with the exclusive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Almost a third of the young people surveyed stated that “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths.”  This is probably true, although it shouldn’t be.  Christians should not operate from fear, but from love.  1 John 4:18-19 states, “18 there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.” Rather than fearing other religions and worldviews, the church should face them head-on, in love.  We should be teaching our young people what other religions believe, why these beliefs are wrong, and how to reach people with other worldviews with the love of Jesus Christ.  Rather than fearing people of other faiths, we need to embrace the opportunity to share Jesus, and the church needs to teach this to our young believers.

Three out of every ten surveyed stated that they feel “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.”  Again, this should not be.  Young believers need to be taught to defend their faith (1 Peter 3:15) and share it with their friends.  Christians should not live isolated from non-Christians, but need to develop relationships with non-believers in order to have opportunities to lead them to a relationship with Christ.  I do understand that there are times when young, spiritually immature Christians may need to separate themselves from the influences of non-Christians, lest they be tempted and fall away from the faith.  However, if the church did a better job of discipling and equipping new Christians to grow in their faith, and to defend it, this would be far less of a problem.  And yes, we are forced to choose between faith in Jesus Christ, and faith in the world.  Again, the church needs to do a better job of encouraging, teaching, and equipping young Christians to grow to spiritual maturity.

The fact that 22% of those surveyed said, “church is like a country club, only for insiders,” is a serious indictment against the church.  Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”  This isn’t a suggestion, or a recommendation – it’s a commandment.  And, too many churches do not take this commandment seriously.  No wonder so many young Christians see the church as hypocritical, and decide to leave.  In the song “My Jesus” by Todd Agnew, there’s a part that says:

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He’d prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd

How many of us actually reach out to the lost, hurting, “different” people around us?  Or, are we afraid of them, or too arrogant to care?

The message of the Gospel is exclusive.  John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Eternal life is exclusive to those who believe on Jesus Christ; those who do not believe are destined to Hell.   This is the message we need to help young people to understand.  There aren’t many ways to get to heaven; there is only one way, Jesus Christ.  This is the message the church must teach, but more importantly, it is the message we need to learn to live.

CHRISTIAN:  Does your life demonstrate the exclusive nature of your relationship with Jesus Christ, in a fearless, loving way that will attract others to the Gospel?