Then, within less than 24 hours, news outlets and everyone’s Facebook feeds exploded with divisive opinions on why this happened. Without even taking the time to fully process and grieve for the horrific acts as a culture, we immediately jumped straight to debating the cause and pointing fingers. While gun control debates following mass shootings are always divisive, it seems this debate has been particularly toxic.
This particular tragedy has sparked a shocking amount of finger pointing. Within days, there were articles blaming the incident on…
- Hillary Clinton
- Christians blamed by CNN contributor, ACLU attorney, gay activist, & NY professor
- Lack of gun control
- Gun free zones
The list goes on and on.
Should we really be surprised by this incident? Of course our hearts should be broken over the tragedy, but I’m not sure we should be surprised by tragedy. Human history repeating sends the message that mankind is cruel to fellow mankind. For all of the progress we’ve made as a species, we can’t overcome man’s inhumanity to man.
Even since I started writing this piece just a couple of days ago, another massacre occurred in Istanbul.
Living in a “civilized” culture gives us a false sense of security. It hides the true brutality and cruelty which lies within sinful hearts. These tragedies remind us of the damage and despair that sin brings.
Mankind’s Central Conflict | Sin
One of the things which draws me to Christianity and scripture are the timeless answers to timely questions. The Bible gives the ultimate answer for why we keep treating each other so badly. The Bible gives an answer for why we can find a way to turn everything towards tragedy and destruction. There is something broken in all of us. There is a natural bent in all of us towards disturbing behavior.
While this isn’t a pleasant thought, it makes sense of human history. If we’re being honest, it makes a lot of sense of our own behavior, at times. You might think of yourself as a good person, but you can think of times you did incredibly selfish things. Each of us has something wrong with us.
We are sinners. We aren’t sinners because we sin. We are sinners and, therefore, we sin.
The scriptures paint a very dark picture of the human heart:
10 As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous— not even one. 11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
When understanding our behavior and the actions of the rest of mankind, we must be constantly reminded of two factors:
- We are all created in the Image of God
- We all have a sin nature
One of these factors gives us incredible ability for good, and the other leads us to do and think unspeakable evil. When you interpret human history through this grid, suddenly everything makes far more sense. As much as we progress and acknowledge there is a better way, we’re still constantly drawn to the darkness.
- Why do we look for better ways to kill one another?
- Why do we need a military?
- Why do we need police?
- Why must such a large percentage of our population be locked behind bars?
- Why must we lock our cars?
- Why are we debating so intently whether we need more guns or fewer guns?
- How could one person commit such horrible crimes?
- How could a group of people all choose to do such depraved and violent acts?
The answer is sin! It explains tragedy. It explains man’s inhumanity to man.
A History of Brutality
Most of our daily lives are relatively civil. Each of us generally follow the rules of society, and we trust that the others around us will generally do the same. Most of us can realistically expect that we will live a relatively safe life in the comfort of our community.
I know for me, this makes it difficult for me to fully comprehend the utter brutal reality of our modern times and all of human history.
Over the last few years, we’ve all become far too familiar with a news broadcast proclaiming that a shooter or bomber has killed dozens of people I know intellectually what that means, but experientially I have no clue what it’s like to be a community rocked by such tragedy. I feel detached from it. But they are a regular part of our civilized culture.
When I hear numbers and statistics about the loss of life in the Holocaust and World War II, I don’t really know how to process the idea that so many people would be complicit in abusing, torturing, and murdering that many men, women, and children. But, it happened less than 100 years ago in a civilized western nation.
Sometimes, our inhumanity becomes non-sensical. The United States declared its independence with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then continued to allow one person to own another person, declared slaves three fifths of a person, and mercilessly removed Native Americans from their land.
While I was in Bible college, one of my roommates found a book of sermons from the 19th century. One of the sermons was from a Southern preacher defending the practice of slavery. For all the ways this preacher understood scripture and the gospel, sin blinded him to how indefensible the American slave trade was.
The best explanation for man’s inhumanity to man I’ve found was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah nearly 3,000 years ago. It was true at the time, and given how civilized we believe we are, it rings even more true today.
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?”
The cause of these tragedies isn’t the presence of guns or Islam. The cause of these tragedies is sin. Man’s inhumanity to man predates both guns and Islam. There have always been false beliefs which led people to do horrible things, and mankind has always found clever ways to kill one another.
- Times have changed.
- Countries have changed.
- Societies have changed.
- Beliefs have changed.
- Weapons have changed.
- Education has changed.
- Culture has evolved.
- People have progressed.
Still something is wrong with mankind. That problem is sin.
The answer isn’t more government or more laws. Laws can regulate behavior within a society, but it can’t fix what is broken. It’s like putting a band aid over a gaping wound. A spiritual problem calls for a spiritual solution. The answer is the Gospel. The solution for mankind’s deepest problems is the transforming power of the Gospel.