Monday, December 17, 2012

Sin, Not Guns

"Now Abel kept flocks and Cain worked the soil.  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.  And Abel also brought an offering--fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.  The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.  So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."  Genesis 4:2-5, NIV

"The LORD saw how great the wickedness of [man] had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of [man's] heart was only evil all the time...Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence."  Genesis 6:5, 11 NIV.

The horrific school shooting in Newtown, CT this past Friday has renewed calls for more gun control, as I knew it would.

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school was a massacre of the innocents on par with Herod's slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem.  When such inhuman evil occurs we want--need--to know, why?  If we can get an answer to that question, if we can make the evil make some kind of sense, we believe the horror will become more bearable.  So we cast about for explanations and find no shortage of "experts" and talking heads ready to give us some.

When evil involves guns the explainers invariably opine that guns are to blame.  Motivated by ideological opportunism more than a desire to comfort victims, the explainers demand more gun control laws as teh only way to prevent more tragedy and save lives.  But is that true?  Will restricting access to guns really prevent violence?  No.

Let me clarify.

If people had less access to guns gun violence might decrease but not violence itself.  Read the Bible verses above.  You'll see that Cain killed Abel and that the earth was "filled with violence" thousands of years before the invention of firearms.  The case of Cain is particularly instructive.

Cain was in the first generation out of Eden.  In fact, he was the first person born after Adam and Eve's expulsion from Paradise.  Consequently, he was much closer to perfection than modern people and yet, enough anger arose in his heart that he killed his own brother.  Scripture doesn't say how Cain killed Abel, perhaps because that's not important.  What's important is what preceded Cain's act:  his anger.  Cain's murder of Abel was the end result of a moral rot that had taken hold of his heart, and that moral rot is the result of sin.  No, I'm not saying that anger is inherently sinful nor does the Bible teach that.  After all, God gets angry.  But sin causes anger to morph into rage that propels people to harm, and even kill, other people.  Guns, if they enter the picture at all, do so only after a person has made the choice to act violently.

Restricting or banning guns won't stop fallen man's propensity to violence.  If firearms aren't available he'll use some other weapon or object or even his bare hands to hurt and kill.  Sin, not guns, is the true bad actor, and no amount of laws in the world can conquer sin.  Sin is conquered only by God's presence in our lives and His spirit in our hearts.  Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, obviously didn't have that presence nor that spirit, and twenty innocent babies are dead because of that.  Sin is the problem.  Sin is the cause.  If any good comes out of the Sandy Hook tragedy I hope it'll be a return of the churches to preaching against the depravity of sin and that Jesus Christ is the only solution to it's strangle hold on our very nature.

The problem is sin.  Remember that.

God have mercy on the families of the dead in Newtown.