The Confident Christian
5/28/14 at 07:36 AM 1 Comments

What is the True Cause and Cure for Violence?

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The U.S. is once again mourning the tragic loss of people that didn’t have to die.

“Elliot Rodger” is the latest name added to the iniquitous list of people who murdered multiple innocent victims for reasons that are meaningless to everyone but themselves. The twenty-two year old man murdered six people in Santa Barbara before taking his own life, with his rationale being delivered in a Youtube video[1] that spelled out his jealousy and hatred for those he believed had rejected him throughout his life.

The appalling incident has sparked another outcry for stronger gun controls and similar restrictions. However, while the intentions of those demanding such things are certainly good, I believe they miss the mark and don’t target the actual efficient cause of tragedies like those that were carried out by Elliot Rodger.

Let me explain.

It’s Not the Tool of Evil

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch and listen to the statements made by Christopher Martinez’s father on the death of his twenty-year old son at the hands of Rodger.[2] Martinez singled out gun violence and blamed politicians along with various groups championing gun rights as the real cause for why his son and others have died in events like the one in Santa Barbara.

Of course everything possible should be done to keep guns out of the hands of people like Elliot Rodger. But Martinez’s position overlooks the fact that Rodger’s first three victims (his roommates) were murdered with a knife.

Here’s the unfortunate fact that no one likes to admit: impose all the restrictions and regulations you want, but evil always seems to find a way.

Sometimes it’s a gun like at Sandy Hook Elementary and the Auora movie theater in Colorado. Sometimes it’s a knife such as the one used at the Osaka school massacre[3] (8 children dead, 15 seriously wounded) and the ones employed in attacks at various Chinese schools a few years ago.[4] Sometimes it’s a fertilizer bomb like the one used in Oklahoma City. And sometimes it’s an airplane like the ones used in 9-11.

The sad truth is that history has demonstrated time and again that evil finds a way.

Targeting the tools used by evil may help a bit, but such a strategy doesn’t work to eradicate the root cause of tragedies and senseless deaths like those just witnessed in California.

It’s Not the Sickness of Evil

Many news stories have played up Elliot Rodger’s mental instabilities as the primary catalyst behind his actions. Why else would he carry out such atrocities?

There’s little question that (unfortunately) much mental illness exists today and that such illness can result in violence. There’s also no doubt that obtaining the right medication and/or counseling can be corrective and help a troubled individual alter an otherwise dangerous course.

But is there more to the story than that?

Some secular psychologists don’t think so. For example, the famed psychologist Abraham Maslow stated: “As far as I know we just don't have any intrinsic instincts for evil.”[5] Agreeing with him is Carl Rogers who asserted, “I do not find that…evil is inherent in human nature”[6]

Certain medical doctors have gone on record as saying evil actions like Rodger’s are purely genetic. For example, Dr. Helen Morrison says this of killers like Rodger: "He is a serial killer when he is a fetus, even as soon as sperm meets egg to create the genes of a new person.”[7]

But yet, when asked to do the autopsy of John Wayne Gacy, who was responsible for the murder of 33 teenage boys, Morrison could find no brain or other abnormalities whatsoever in Gacy that would explain his actions.

Another example is found in Adolf Eichmann[8], the German Nazi officer who was one of the primary instigators, organizers, and executioners of the Holocaust. Of Eichmann, Thomas Merton writes, “One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. . . . And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous.”[9]

As with pursuing the tools used by evil, targeting only the mental illnesses some people possess will fall short in accomplishing the widespread elimination of heart-wrenching violent acts that we see all too often.

It’s the Evil Heart

Theologian R. C. Sproul relays an important observation when he says, “If each one of us is born without a sinful nature, how do we account for the universality of sin? If four billion people were born with no inclination to sin, with no corruption to their nature, we would reasonably expect that at least some of them would refrain from falling. . . . But if everybody does it, without exception, then we begin to wonder why.”[10]

A brief Biblical survey reveals the reason why – each of us is born with an evil heart capable of the most terrible things imaginable. Consider the following statements from Scripture:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

“The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live” (Ecc. 9:3).

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5).

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21–22).

No, not everyone goes on a killing rampage like Elliot Rodger did. But when someone does, and spells out their reasons as clearly as he did, it doesn’t surprise me that his motives match perfectly with what Jesus’ half-brother wrote two thousand years ago: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:1–3).

The sin disease present in every human heart is the root cause of events like 9-11, Sandy Hook, Oklahoma City, and now Santa Barbara. It won’t respond to more restrictive gun legislation, medication, counseling, or anything similar.

It needs a more powerful cure.

In the same way the Bible is unequivocal in its diagnosis of humanity’s evil actions, it is equally clear in the needed antidote. Jesus explained what that remedy is to a man who came to him one evening seeking wisdom: “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

Even if you’re not a Christian, stop for a second, push aside your current worldview, and think about what would happen if every human being could actually live in a way that put the good of others above their own; where everyone obeyed good and just laws that were written on their heart instead of on paper. Would you have any objection to that?

The Bible says that everyone starts out life as a slave to sin and obeys their master. But when a person is born again, Jesus sets them free from their sin master and now they are able to obey God’s just and right laws. The Apostle Paul puts it like this: “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17–18).

Do you want heartbreaking tragedies like those committed in Santa Barbara to truly end? If so, then accept the fact that the long term solution that will stop such things once and for all is to have the heart of Jesus beating strongly and obediently in every human being.

That and that alone is the final cure for evil and the only thing that will rid the world of the despicable acts we all long to see disappear.

[6] Ibid.


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