The headline reads, “At Least 31 Killed in U.S. Weekend Mass Shootings.” The headline reads, “Minnesota Gov. Calls Traffic Stop Shooting [Philando Castile] ‘Absolutely Appalling At All Levels’.” The headline reads, “A Burst of Gunfire, a Pause, then Carnage In Las Vegas that Would Not Stop.” This is enough to make you stop reading headlines. But not reading about violence won’t make it stop. Ignoring the issue won’t eliminate the issue. The question is, what is the issue? I suggest that this it is not violence itself. The violence we see, hear, and read about is only a symptom of a more substantial underlying issue.
When I was about six years old, I was riding my bike and the “problem child” of the neighborhood challenged me to a race on the downhill portion of the sidewalk. I said, “No,” but he was not deterred. As I rode away he chose to race me anyway. As fortune would have it, his shoelace got caught in my tire spokes, my wheel locked, and I flew off of my bike headfirst into a parked car. I knew I was hurt but didn’t know how bad so I ran home. By the time I walked through the door, my white shirt (and pretty much everything else) was covered in blood that was pouring from the cut near my eye. My mom quickly assessed that a Band-Aid would not suffice and took me to the hospital where I was stitched up.
Making laws, though necessary, to address violence is much like trying to place a Band-Aid on a gushing wound. In this analogy, the gushing wound is sin, which is the result of a heart detached from God. This is not to absolve the actors or their actions from what they did. Those that commit violent acts do so of their own free will. And free will is a necessary component both for the love of God to exist and unfortunately for the hate of man to persist.
VIOLENCE AND REALITY
As an Apologist (one who is concerned with the accurate defense of the Christian worldview), I have seen time and time again how factual evidence supports a belief in God. For example, the fact that many behaviors among animals seen as “natural” would be ascribed as “evil” if committed by man (murder for example), is evidence that there is a different moral standard for man. Perhaps this unique moral standard for man is reason to believe that humans have inherent (God-given) value or worth. The fact that we are repeatedly dismayed and angered by violent acts committed by and against fellow humans actually affirms the existence of God. Without God, the idea of violence as an epidemic self-implodes.
Here’s why. If human life has no ultimate value – which is to say that if our value is self-imposed and thereby subjective, it does not exist in actuality. I like to play basketball. The shoes that I find work best for me are the “Kobe’s” (named for Kobe Bryant). If I go to the store and they have them for $100, I’ll probably buy them if I’m in the market for new shoes. However, if they were to tell me that the cost was $1,000, I would decline because that would not be an accurate assessment of their value. Only two people determine the value of an object – the creator or the purchaser. Value can never objectively be self-determined.
If we apply this concept to humans then the Christian worldview is wholly unique. Only in a Christian worldview are the purchaser and the Creator the same person. We have been redeemed (bought back) by our Creator. In an atheistic framework, we are the culmination of a random unguided assortment of molecules. How can there be any value in that? This also means that only in a Christian worldview can we even begin to discuss concepts such as intrinsic human value and inherent worth.
VIOLENCE AND RENEWAL
This understanding of our value is pivotal because without value, there can never be meaning. In other words, if something is of no value or no legitimate value can be attributed to it, then it in effect becomes a meaningless item. So, the fact that humans are given value by a transcendent Creator and purchaser (redeemer) who is in the legitimate position to impute value to us is of utmost importance. Therefore, there is no need to apologize for adherence to a Christian worldview. Only in this worldview does life have meaning because we are eternally connected to the One who gives meaning to all things.
Value underlies meaning. If people of all stripes understand that they have value from a transcendent source, then so does every other human. Christ died for Jews and gentiles. Rich and poor. Black and white. There is no division in the One who prayed for us to have unity the night before His execution. Only when this understanding becomes ubiquitous will violence of all kinds begin to cease. There would be no more homicides or suicide if people understood the purpose for which they were created. That purpose lies at the heart of the gospel, which is to know Christ and make Him known. That message is a message of hope. And that message is a message worth living for.