I have been thinking about how violent we have become as a nation when bullying in schools has become a drop in the bucket compared to frequent occurrences of mass shootings in our schools, colleges, night club, movie theater, military base, mall, workplaces, concert in the park, workers’ end of year luncheon, and church services. Sadly, we have reached the point where we can’t send a loved one to school, to church, to work, a social gathering, shopping at the mall or the movies without concern that they could get gunned down by a deranged person with guns. My conclusion is that gun violence in America has reached critical proportions.
The root of violence reaches deep into society, tapping into such complex conditions as poverty, family failures, hopelessness, and mental illness. Each episode of gun violence triggers “knee-jerk” calls for legislation and quick fixes. Our politics is so divisive that it seems like our state or federal legislators might not be able to provide our nation with meaningful legislations to protect us from senseless gun violence. As a clinical person, I am particularly concerned that owing to the frequency of school shootings, children may experience anxiety, fear, a sense of personal risk, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If a good number of our students already have learning problems, what will be the findings the next time a major relevant study is undertaken. The well-being of our children in school is under siege. It seems like, as a nation, we have lost or are about to lose the moral high ground to scold other nations about their violent behavior.
As Christians, we must address the issue of violence in our society. It’s not too late for Christians to make a difference by our word and deed. We live in a fallen world (Genesis 3), and even those who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ are not exempt from violence against us. Many of the victims of gun violence in the aforementioned incidents were Christians. We live by faith and we know that God watches over us and keeps us safe (Psalm 46:1), but we must do the following: Talk honestly about our own feelings with family members regarding the rise of violence. Discuss safety procedures that are in place at our child’s school, our workplace and church. Create family safety plans for places and events we visit.
- Pray for people we know who have destructive ambitions or tendencies.
- Pray for those who have been desensitized to the value of life and the loss of life.
- Pray for law enforcement, criminal justice, mental health professionals, and educators.
- Pray for actual and potential victims.
- Pray for actual and potential aggressors that God might change their plan and intent.
Finally, we need to understand that violence is the result of a pathology of the soul. Perpetrators of violence, especially at the current magnitude are morally bankrupt and spiritually sick. They fail to recognize or accept that violence against human beings is wrong because human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. There is a worth, a value, a dignity to every human life, and that makes selfish and wanton violence a moral offense.
Let the Bible speak: In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.”
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion