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Who is to Blame?

Last Saturday (January 8, 2011), six people were killed and thirteen were wounded when a twenty-two-year-old man shot them at a Tucson, Arizona supermarket.  The tragedy occurred during an event scheduled by the local representative to the United States Congress in which citizens were invited to come and express their concerns.  The representative, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was the target of the attack, while the other victims were apparently shot at random.  Although shot in the head, Rep. Giffords has survived, but the extent of her recovery remains in question.  Among the victims were two members of the Mountain Avenue church of Christ, Dorwin and Mavy Stoddard.  Mr. Stoddard was killed while saving his wife by shielding her from the bullets.  Mrs. Stoddard was shot three times in the legs, but she will recover.  May our prayers be offered for all of the victims and their families.

As soon as these events were reported by the news media, attempts were begun to assign blame for the massacre.  Some say it was the fault of political parties.  Some blame radio and television personalities.  Some condemn gun manufacturers, gun sellers, and legislators who write state and federal gun laws.  Others have blamed the college where the killer had attended or the local sheriff and the police department.  Some have blamed the killer’s parents.  Some have even been so bold as to blame the killer himself.

The ongoing blame-game has been quite a spectacle to watch.  Those who are pointing fingers at others are given to wild accusations or demands for massive legislative reforms that would curtail many of the liberties that we have long-enjoyed in this nation.  Some of those accused of having a part in this tragedy have become so defensive that one might think they were the real victims.  Some have tried not to take sides but have offered explanations that are unsatisfying or just downright wrong.  Maybe the passage of time will cool some of the emotions and offer a better perspective to all of these warring factions.

For Christians, we know who and what is to blame when such violence occurs in this world.  Our Lord gave us the answers long ago.  The immediate and direct blame goes to the man who committed this heinous act.  He will stand alone to answer for his deeds in the Judgment, for 2Corinthians 5:10 states plainly: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  For this reason, let us pray that this man will seek and find forgiveness in the Lord Jesus.  The evil deeds of this man did not spring forth spontaneously, but rather they issued forth from an evil heart that had been festering for a long time.  Regarding such a heart, the Lord said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders…” (Matt. 15:19; see also Matt. 5:22).

In a broader and more general sense, the existence of such violence in this world is due to Satan and the corruption of sin.  Notice the words of Jesus in John 8:44:

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

There is no limit to the evil that can be committed by those who have submitted themselves to the devil.  The killer in Tucson was fully given over to Satan, which is evident in his own writings and the presence of satanic rituals in his own home.  Do not misunderstand – we should not accept the excuse of "the devil made him do it,” for every soul can resist the devil and cause him to flee (Jas. 4:7).  Rather, we should open our eyes and realize that the influence of Satan is real, whether it is manifested in murder, fornication, homosexuality, theft, lies, curses, or any other evil.  Likewise, the effects of sin are also real, and our world suffers under these every day.

So we know who and what is to blame, but what is the solution?  Some have said that we need fewer guns, and some have said that we need more guns, but neither is the answer.  (By the way, have you ever noticed the weapon Cain used to murder Abel?  You haven’t because the Bible does not say.  The weapon is not relevant – it is evil in the heart of man that leads to violence.)  Some have said that we need to stop debating over issues, but that is not the answer.  Some have said that the answer is too hard and that a busload of theologians couldn’t figure it out (I heard Dr. James Dobson say this on Thursday).  Actually, the answer is quite simple and easy: it is Christ.  We need Christ back in the culture via the reading and preaching of God’s word in homes, churches, schools, government, and public places as it used to be.  We need a return to true morality and virtue by the means of genuine, widespread religion in this nation.  We desperately need Jesus.

These answers are so simple that any child can understand: Satan is our opponent, sin is our problem, and Christ is our solution.  In fact, these answers are so simple that the world has rejected them for their simplicity.  Until we accept these answers as the truth, we can only expect more of what happened on January 8.

Stacey E. Durham



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