If you had your eyes wide open, you may have noticed a little news blurb about a horrible, multiple killing in the United States. I don’t mean the murderous stand-off in Pittsburgh, in which a man entrapped police officers and shot them in the head. I don’t mean the murderous killing of immigrants in Binghamton, New York, either, in which most of the victims had multiple gunshot wounds, and the attacker began by blocking the rear exit with his car.
Those are deeply tragic attacks. I sympathize with the families of the slain. Nobody should have to endure such a thing. Unfortunately, these occurences, like the shooting murders last summer on a college campus, have always happened, despite the efforts of many to prevent them. In fact, that’s what the Pittsburgh officers were doing when they perished: maintaining peace and order.
Also unfortunately, these things are routinely politicized, along with everything else. According to Google News, the Philadelphia Inquirer posted an article about those murders 10 hours ago, and 8 hours ago, the Mayor published his desire for a ban on “assault-type weapons.” Blogs are already trying to smear everyone who defends gun rights as a dangerous “gun nut.” I don’t really have the time to read that kind of thing, much less write it.
The blurb I began writing about concerns a multiple killing that happened in Boston. Massachusetts, for those who don’t know, is about the least gun-friendly state there is. It’s a long-running experiment in the effectiveness of its position on firearms. But this killing apparently didn’t involve firearms, unless you count the ones used by the police. The murder weapon was a sharp piece of metal, a “kitchen knife.” (Many knives are also illegal in Massachusetts. Don’t tell anyone that I carried a pocket knife through High School there. Nobody knew because I didn’t hurt or threaten anyone with it. I did feel safer, though.)
You may want to skip the AP news blurb I quote below, as it’s a bit gruesome. I’m quoting it instead of linking, because I suspect that things like this won’t last as long in the news as gun-related violence. The press has an agenda, too, after all. That’s probably why this was harder to find than articles on the other killings.
BOSTON (AP) — Two Massachusetts girls and the brother who stabbed them to death are being mourned at a single funeral service.
Family and friends gathered Saturday morning at the Jubilee Christian Church in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood for a funeral for the siblings.
A week ago, 17-year-old Samantha Revelus and her 5-year-old sister, Bianca, were killed at their home in Milton. Police burst into the apartment and saw the girls’ brother, 23-year-old Kerby Revelus, decapitating Bianca with a kitchen knife.
Police say they shot Kerby Revelus dead as he tried to attack another sister.
A spokesman for the children’s parents said they are “in shock and disbelief” and have no explanation why their son would kill his sisters.
This is also a terrible tragedy.
I hope the surviving family members receive the comfort of the Gospel.
These three recent multiple-murder news stories, especially the one quoted above, illustrate things worth mentioning. For one, the murder weapons don’t make much difference. My house is full of potential murder weapons, but it’s no more dangerous than yours. Within sight right now are some large, heavy, blunt objects. I’m typing on a keyboard, a genuine IBM Model M. (Ever see Gattaca?) Electricity flows through the wires that power my light bulbs. The window to my right is filled with glass that can break into knife-sharp pieces. Behind me are a couple chairs and a telescope with tripod. My multimeter has long, strong, metal wires. There’s more in this room, but consider the kitchen, where we keep our Cutco knives, among other things. (Did you notice the article from Florida about the homeless man killed with a 7-inch Cutco knife? We’ve got one.) I distinctly remember Louis L’Amour characters saying that hot coffee can make a good weapon. Probably a defensive weapon, but still a weapon. What about the garage, where my workshop is? What about the tool shed outside?
I mention all of this not to demonstrate my own morbidity, nor to make you suspect I’m a sociopath myself. Actually, it’s taken some slight creativity for me to think of that list, though there’s some help in the Jason Bourne movies. I mention this to demonstrate that the particular weapon used in murder makes little to no difference. When someone is actually killed by an inanimate object, it’s almost always an accident of some kind, not a murder.
People murder people. This is what Jesus said about it, to those who sought to murder Him. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44).
The reason our society (news media, politicians, etc.) tries to curtail murder by banning weapons is because it refuses to admit that murder is done by sinful people, not by the weapons they happen to use. Weapons must be used by someone. There is a good, God-pleasing use, and there is an evil use. That’s true of just about everything, and just about anything can be used as a weapon.
You can see the lunacy of targetting weapons instead of the evil in people by imagining a ban on Cutco. Let “knife” become synonymous with “assault weapon,” and create a ban so that nobody but law enforcement personnel could have one any more. That ought to put a strangle-hold on the murder rate, right? Well, maybe not. Meanwhile, avid home cooks and law-abiding restaurants everywhere would be scrambling to find government-approved methods of cutting food without knives. The Boy Scouts would lose half its membership, and law-abiding outdoorsmen would spend most of their time chipping flakes from obsidian.
The target should be the evil in people. All people. Any of us is perfectly capable of doing evil things. Instead of handcuffing everyone, God has provided Law: moral laws that should constrain those who care about God’s judgment, and civil laws that can be enforced by the God-given power of civil government. They don’t eliminate the evil, but the laws we have are to limit its effects, especially in their enforcement.
Unfortunately, evildoers are enabled by a society that refuses to acknowledge the source of the evil. It’s the rebellion against God within every one of us. But our society has tried to give everything a naturalistic explanation, including the origin of human beings, and our morality. Children in schools are taught that they are an accidental product of random chance, rather than prized moral creatures created by God and redeemed from guilt by the sacrifice of His Son. If anyone believes those schools, it’s no wonder that they are willing to do evil. It’s no wonder that the limiting effect of morality has been diminished in our time. It’s no wonder that people like the young man in Boston can do what they do. Did you notice the statement from his parents? They have “no explanation why their son would kill his sisters.” One good explanation is no further than the nearest public-school biology textbook.
It’s not the guns. It’s the worldview, the naturalistic religion (or anti-religion) spoon-fed through public education, media, and even American culture. If you want to point to a single influence in this world most responsible for murders and sorrows like this, point to the evil in your own heart. If you want to point to something outside yourself, point to the worldview.
The Christian, biblical worldview says that human life is sacred. God made it that way. He alone has the power to begin it, and He alone has the authority to end it. Sometimes He uses that authority through government, as when the knife-wielding killer was shot in Boston, or when our soldiers carry out rightful orders that result in the death of an enemy — or even “collateral” deaths, if they are reasonably minimized. But as individuals, neither the police officer, nor the soldier, nor any citizen has the authority to take the life of another.
The only exception is self-defense, including the defense of your family. That exception has a long history as part of our law. Still, the life of an assailant is also sacred, and we should not kill unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Christians are constrained by morality, recognizing that it reflects God’s will, and that everyone will face His judgment in the end. That’s part of the biblical worldview, which has been a great boon to American society and culture. Increasingly, though, there are many who reject the idea of accountability to God. In fact, I think that many of the attacks on social conservatives come from exactly that difference. People who have thrown off the moral constraints of accountability to God think that people like them should not be criticized for transgressing the moral constraints of others. Hence, the press often allows liberal politicians to get away with murder (figuratively speaking, most of the time), while the same wrongdoings committed by their conservative counterparts are roundly criticized. The difference is that the conservatives (supposedly) have the moral constraints that make the criticism possible.
Instead of holding human life to be sacred, the naturalistic worldview holds the earth, or the “environment” (whatever that means) to be sacred. In that view, harm done to another human is not so bad anymore. You would do far worse by harming an animal belonging to a legally-protected species. I suppose that’s the reason why here in the Northwest, hydropower is not considered a legitimate, renewable source of energy. You see, some people accuse dams of damaging the environment. Meanwhile, they not only provide reliable electricity, but do this so abundantly that expensive, maniacal regulations meant to help fish are actually followed, but the increased cost of power is still quite affordable, and competitive with power from sources that do not supposedly “harm the environment.”
When a worldview becomes so skewed that a person’s conscience is more sensitive to harm he might be doing to animals than it is to harm he plans doing to humans, that worldview is evil.
For such evil in us all, Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to suffer and die. He bore all the guilt this world accumulates before God, and He received the full punishment, all alone. Because He did this, we are forgiven. We are free, and can boldly live before Him in righteousness, as best we may. With His forgiveness, we are free of guilt to do our best in this world, knowing that our true, eternal home, is prepared and waiting for us. That’s the true solution to the evil within us. That’s what Jesus accomplished.