I feel compelled to say a few things in response to the terrible tragedy that took place and continues to haunt the families of Aurora, Colorado. This post is not directly related to the theater shooting, but the moment gives me an opportunity to address some predictable responses to such loss by a culture whose Christian heritage is like a faded old photograph.
First, the media reaction has proven again that we are simultaneously a culture of death and a culture who fears death. We are a culture of death when we live under the illusion that we are able to live under the auspices of being gods. From the mother who holds the keys of life and death for her unborn child to the pious intellectual who offers the aged and useless of society a vial of death veiled as an elixir of compassion. We are a culture who fears death when the curtain falls away and we are reminded that we are but mere mortals under the divine hand of another. We are not writing history as much as we are living a history already written.
Second, we will predictably grasp for a handful of justice from the sands of humanism and enlightenment. This trial will go on for months, every nuance of motive and personality and background will be unearthed, the conviction and sentence will suffer numerous appeals, and any remnant of justice that remains in the end will be so far removed from the crime as to render it almost impotent. This case, substantiated by ten-fold the required two or three witnesses in biblical law, will ooze into a quixotic quest for rehabilitation. We will not establish guilt of the crime and administer a swift punishment that fits the crime. We have to know what’s broken (and how it got broken) in a man who could indiscriminately murder a theater full of people. We have to know what’s broken so we can attempt to fix it. The state has laid down its sword for a box of band-aids.
Third, the cries of gun control have already started ringing among the self-appointed priests of our society. The Constitutional argument against this is well established. I want to address a deeper weakness among our nation. We have become a people who delegate everything to the state. We let the state teach our children. We let the state take care of our sick, poor, and elderly. We even let the state handle the duty of protecting those who cannot protect themselves. It is not the primary duty of law enforcement or homeland security to protect my wife and children. That’s my job! It’s my duty to protect others who do not have a protector at the time of danger, and I hope someone would do the same should my family be in danger when I am not with them. It’s time for us to start taking the hard but right road. A godly education, a compassionate community, a protected family—these all require the one thing we are most unwilling to give—we must die to ourselves.
None of this is to say that death will not be sorrowful, that justice will always be just, or that safety is guaranteed by strength. What it means is that we who belong to the Sovereign Lord must learn how to live by faith. By faith we treat death as a defeated enemy. By faith we pursue justice with an eye toward the final judgment when all will be made right. By faith we fight for our families, we defend the weak, we care for the needy, and we honor the aged. We do this, not as an act of self-reliance or for the common good, but as an act of worship to the Triune God.