This weekend (August 3 & 4, 2019), there have been two more mass shootings in the United States. One was in El Paso, Texas, where my familial roots go down. The other mass shooting was in Dayton, Ohio. Between these two shootings, twenty nine people were killed and dozens were injured.
Every single article that I have read on the shootings include the author’s diagnosis and a suggested cure for how to prevent these tragedies from occurring again. I agree that serious, robust conversation is needed regarding these incidents. Some online charts tell us that the United States has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world. Other online reports tell us that the United States rates 12th as compared to European countries, and 66th worldwide. I suggest that we all do the research before posting charts online that suggest that the United States is the leading country regarding such tragedies. Also, keep in mind that charts and research can be often skewed and analyzed in such a way that different conclusions emerge.
I’m not writing to debate where the Unites States falls in such rankings. Mass shootings are horrific, wicked, and abominable wherever and however they occur. So are suicide bombings, and incidents where vehicles are used to maim and kill people in crowds.
These mass shootings provoke outrage among us, and so they should. Emotions run high, and it is very natural to want to blame someone that thinks differently than us, or looks differently than we do. Republicans blame Democrats, and Democrats blame Republicans. Liberals blame conservatives, and vice versa. Atheists blame Evangelicals, and Evangelicals return the favor. Much if not most of this blaming is done with the most vitriolic language and behind the safety of a computer screen. Lots of people display cyber courage.
I’d like to go on record now about who I blame: I blame Satan.
I’m a Christian (follower of Jesus), and a pastor. I don’t go by any other label. Since we still have freedom of speech, I’d like to tell you what I believe the problem is.
Behind every action is a belief system. The El Paso shooter was out to “stop the invasion of Texas” by Hispanics. Behind his actions was a belief system that came from Hell. There may have been mental health issues as well, I don’t know, but I believe that Satan is happy to take advantage of any person that is less capable of valuing life, and inspiring them to destroy life, whether with a gun, a car, a bomb, or with saline solution and forceps.
I believe the Bible is true. The names given to Satan in the Bible are as follows: Liar, Father of Lies, Murderer, Destroyer, Deceiver, Devil (Slanderer), Tempter, The Ruler of Demons, The Evil One, The Enemy, The Ruler of This World, The God of This Age, The Adversary, The Roaring Lion, The Dragon, The Old Serpent, The Accuser of God’s People.
Here are two things that I believe about the nature of humans:
We are all born with an internal disposition towards sin, selfishness, rebellion.
Satan is happy to come alongside us and fan that flame into murder, rape, violence, greed, deception, and all the other things that his name implies. The fanning into flame comes to us in a number of ways, but I believe there exists an evil being set upon destroying people in any way that he can.
I’m no longer shocked by these events. It’s not that I am desensitized (I hope), but rather, that I believe I understand what is behind all these events. As of the date of this writing, I am 63 years old. I remember the “Texas Tower Sniper”, Charles Whitman, who on August 1, 1966 locked himself in a tower at the University of Austin, and with high powered weapons, this former Marine killed 14 people and injured 31 until he was finally shot dead by a policeman and a civilian. The list of these kinds of events goes on ad nauseum. These events fill human history.
My point is this: The Bible tells me why these things are happening. People have a built in disposition towards evil, and then the Enemy of Our Souls comes along and fans it into flame. I know that there are multitudes of other considerations. Upbringing, mental health, victimization and abuse in childhood, PTSD, etc. The list goes on and on. But may I suggest that those things are also the result of the Destroyer? Satan Inspires a father who was hurt by his father, to act out on his children, and the destructive cycle continues.
I’ll end here by suggesting this: The first thing a doctor needs to do with a patient is to rightly diagnose the problem. Then and only then can a proper antidote be administered.
I am not saying that “non-spiritual” actions and responses will be of no help. There may be laws that can be changed that can help reduce such shooting tragedies, but we need to remember the cause behind the actions. These kinds of gun crimes don’t exist in the U.K. and in Wales, but in 2019, there were 45,000 crimes involving knives or sharp objects in those countries.
To my brothers and sisters in the faith…We can be shocked over such events, but then again, not shocked. As we read and study our Bibles, we ought not be surprised at these displays of evil. The best thing we can do is to do what we can do. For all of us…truly love God and love people. Vote Biblically, not along party lines. For others of us, we get involved more publicly in one way or another.
For those who are not followers of Jesus…one of His names is The Prince of Peace. I am a Jesus follower, and increasingly in my life, I have experienced His peace.
But as far as the Blame Game goes…I blame Satan.