Violence: Who Do We Blame?
by Tim Haile
A Person would have to be blind to deny that America has a problem with violence. In fact, the whole world is plagued with violence.
Whether the medium is television, radio, the printed page, or the Internet, one is constantly impressed with the fact that our world is a violent and dangerous place. News reports including local, national, and world coverage regularly report cases of violence. We frequently hear of murders (including school shootings), rapes, robberies, and assaults, and all too often, they are occurring in places near where we live.
What can we do both to protect ourselves, and to improve the moral quality of our society? We must change the way people view morality. People need to be taught again that right is right and wrong is wrong. We must persuade them to replace the shifting sands of situation ethics and moral relativism with the solid foundation of biblical morality and a God-centered worldview. We must work through our various institutions to instill and cultivate an attitude of respect for our fellow man.
The Bible contains information so clear, concise and compelling that it can re-calibrate a person's moral compass. The Bible is where we must turn for genuine, character building strength and proper moral guidance.
We have seen the results of the opinion polls and focus group meetings. We have heard what the news analysts, sociologists, politicians, legislators, and commentators have suggested. Are they right? Will things like stricter gun control and school uniforms solve the problem? Will these things make people have more respect for the sanctity of human life? The answer is no, these things are not the answer. The solution lies in changed character. This work of molding a young person's character begins in the home, and ideally, it continues to be perpetuated through various institutions like religion, schools and colleges. I suggest to you that, barring few exceptions; there has been a breakdown at all of these levels. Throughout the course of this article, we shall examine each of these areas, but for now, let us consider some of the things the problem is not attributable to.
The Connection between Violence and Corrupt Character
From Genesis chapter 6 we learn that, through the passage of time, men had become quite wicked. So wicked that "every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5). Further description is added in verses 11 through 13. Notice these verses carefully:
11. "Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.
12. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
13. So God said to Noah, 'I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth'."
Why the violence? Were there too many weapons? Was the problem so bad because of the accessibility of means and methods of inflicting violence? If these things were really a problem, then why weren't they mentioned in these verses? What is mentioned is the fact that the people were "wicked." They had "corrupted themselves." This "corruption" is the certain result of turning from the light of God's divine council. Such corruption does not come upon men accidentally, but is the result spiritual apathy - "Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the roof leaks" (Eccl. 10:18). Concerning the days before the flood, Jesus said, "People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:27). One living during those days could have said, "The economy is good and life is great," however his outlook would have been skewed by his spiritual apathy. God "destroyed them all" because of their wickedness and violence.
These people were not "violent" because weapons were easily accessible, or because the means and methods of inflicting violence were easily accessible. It was their character that had become corrupt, and corrupt character produces violent behavior. This was true in Noah's day, and it is true in our present time.
The Bible reveals the origin and cause of violent behavior. Micah 2:1 says:
"Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance."
According to this passage, violence is a product of the mind. By rejecting God's standard of truth and morality these people had become violent, filthy tongued liars. They took advantage of others by lying, conniving, using unjust scales, or through outright robbery, including violent confiscation of property (Micah 6:11-12; 2:1). They "successfully worked evil with both hands" (Micah 7:3). The tentacles of this corruption were far-reaching. People ranging from high government officials and judges to spiritual leaders and immediate family members were corrupt and untrustworthy (Micah 3:2-3; 7:3-6). This is what happens to societies that forget God.
The problem is not the ease of availability in acquiring the means to commit violent crimes. Inanimate objects like guns, knives, bombs and bows are not the cause of the violence. The problem is with the disposition of mind that misuses these means to accomplish their evil task. It is foolish and irresponsible to blame violence on guns, or any other means of carrying out that violence. The real problem is with uneducated consciences and callused hearts. This is where we must focus our attention.
Jesus said evil thoughts and conduct have their origin in the "heart" (mind). "Evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies" are things that "proceed from the heart" and "defile a man" (Matthew 15:19). Violent acts, along with all other sins and crimes are committed because men desire and plan to commit them. The people of Micah's day "worked out evil upon their beds," and rose "early in the morning" in order to get an early start at taking advantage of their neighbors (Micah 2:1). The expression, "worked out evil" means that they planned their evil deeds. Many people wake up in the morning and plan their day's activities, but not these kinds of activities! Proverbs 6:18 tells us that one of the things God hates is "A heart that devises wicked plans." Hearts like this plan ways of doing evil. This is what happened to the people of Noah's day. Every thought and the imaginations of the heart were only evil all of the time!
Are the crimes and schemes of the wicked committed just because of a person's access to the means necessary to commit them? To ask the question is sufficient to answer it. Consider an illustration. Automobiles are capable of running people down and killing them. Does this fact strongly motivate drivers to use cars for such a purpose? Of course not! Neither the presence nor absence of weapons has any ability to mold a person's character, or corrupt his will. The above passages clearly show that people did not become violent because of the available means to be such. They became violent because they rejected God and established their own system of morality. This is exactly what has happened in our present society. Who is to be blamed for this?
False Religion Is To Be Blamed
Religion in America has become an absolute joke. Most churches are so deeply absorbed in social programs and activities that they have no time or inclination to pursue God's work. They have completely lost sight of God's purpose for the church. The work of studying, learning and teaching the difference between right and wrong has been replaced with amusement and entertainment. The members of these churches are not learning anything about God's righteous requirements. Parents aren't taught how to properly train their children and children aren't taught to respect and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-4). Instead of learning about righteousness, self-control and judgment (Acts 24:25), children learn how to play sports and do arts and crafts.
The people of Micah's day had the same misconception about the role of religion in their lives. Isaiah (contemporary with Micah) described how rebellious his people had become. He said they told the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits" (Isa. 30:9-10). Micah described the prophet who would be "just right" for his people. He said that prophet would have to be one who prophesied "plenty of wine and beer" (Micah 2:11). What a sad condition God's people were in! They would only listen to prophets who lied to them and told them things that they wanted to hear. Sound familiar?
Corrupt Government Is To Be Blamed
High level moral corruption has a trickle-down effect. Micah said the political leaders of his day were crooked and walked in the statutes of Omri (Micah 6:16). The princes and judges made decisions based upon the amount of the bribe (Micah 7:3). Such conduct on the part of judges and political rulers emboldens the citizens to act even more wickedly.
Such a process lowers the standard for all people. Solomon said, "It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness" (Proverbs 16:12). By God's design, "A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters away evil with his eyes" (Proverbs 20:8), but what happens when the office is profaned by one who has no respect for divine principles of truth and morality? When this occurs, wicked behavior is encouraged, rather than discouraged. Eventually, this mentality will destroy a nation (Proverbs 14:34).
Irresponsible Parents Are To Be Blamed
Regardless of the age, God has always required parents to teach His will to their children. Abraham commanded his children after him (Genesis 18:19). Jews under the Old Testament law were to teach God's precepts to their children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9), and parents today are to teach their children (Ephesians 6:4).
There are 3 divine institutions, the church, civil government and the home. Just as men have dishonored God's other institutions, so they have done with the home. Parents see no need to train their children in righteousness. They spend hundreds of hours and dollars teaching their children how to play sports or some type of musical instrument, but most of them spend very little time instructing their children in righteousness. Children are not being brought up in the training and discipline of the Lord.
Abortion Is To Be Blamed
Not only are things like lying, cheating, stealing, and fornication not specifically condemned by these parents, some of them do not even teach their children the value of human life! Millions of parents believe abortion to be morally acceptable. What kind of lesson are children taught when their mother has willfully aborted one of their brothers or sisters? I will tell you what they learned. They learned that another person's personal happiness and pleasure measure the value of human life. They learn that life is not sacred. They learn that killing other people is acceptable as long as the killer is comfortable with it, and the civil government says it is okay.
Let us not be so naïve as to think that children are not affected by these inconsistencies. Those who detach themselves from the emotion of the controversy and consistently apply the definition of life will reach the conclusion that there is no difference in the baby in the womb that is about to be aborted, and the baby lying in the crib. This same consistent logic will lead that same youth to conclude that there is no difference between the baby in the crib and the student in the classroom. Now we have come full circle. Whatever reason was good enough to justify the mother in killing her unborn child ought also to be good enough to justify the teenager in killing his classmates. What is the difference!
Do you see what has happened? What are you going to do about it?
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