Recently, here in Texas, a nursing home janitor who had been terminated, later returned with a gun and held the place hostage. There were cops, plenty of media attention but, thankfully, it all ended without any violence.
As a Workplace Chaplain, hired by a nursing home
chain with over 500 employees in ten locations, I couldn't help but wonder if things might have been different if that janitor had access to the services of a company Chaplain who could counsel him, pray with him, help him to leave his job with dignity and hope that God STILL had a plan for him - and maybe even help him find another job.
I find it frustrating how willing people are to invite - not only grief therapists and counselors - but chaplains and ministers, to tend to those who survive tragedies the likes of the massacre at Virginia Tech. Research
reveals that people STILL prefer to speak with a
clergyman in times of trouble. American businesses have caught the vision as many now put Chaplains like me on the payroll. Why not America's Universities? Face it, a person with a personal tragedy in the dorm or back home is a person with a personal tragedy in the classroom.
Campus Outreaches are fine, but an individual has to leave their comfort zone and go there. A Chaplain leaves his/her comfort zone and goes to the individuals. Some colleges have a Chaplain. Most don't. All of them should. That's my commercial.
It's despicable how the media and some others are trying to turn this V-Tech tragedy into a gun control issue, a violent video game issue or a medication issue. Some were politicizing the matter before any bodies even made it to the morgue. Don't jump the gun, people; this was a spiritual issue, perpetrated by a sad, sad soul whose deepest needs weren't being addressed, even though there were warning signs. Either no one KNEW what to do, didn't care, or the
school had no one on staff who was equipped to help. As a result, 32 other families - no, an entire nation - suffered the consequences.
What a wonderful time this would be for the officials of V-Tech to call upon the families of the five Amish school girls who were killed execution-style in Pennsylvania, October, 2006. The Amish community forgave that killer and comforted his wife. For some communities, such a massacre brings nothing but demands for tighter gun laws and better security, as embittered loved ones attack the killer's family or
threaten lawsuits. After all, someone must surely pay!
No, not the Amish. That's not how they handle life.
I lived among these wonderful people as a boy in
Bremen, Indiana. I'm sure they struggled with the slayings of their children - and still are - but they CHOSE to turn the other cheek, urging others to join in forgiving the killer and accepting even their most horrific tragedy as being part of God's will.
"They know their children are going to Heaven.
They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death," Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher and expert on children in Amish society said. "The hurt is very great, but they don't balance the hurt with hate."
NO ROOM FOR JESUS...AGAIN.
A convocation took place today on the V-Tech
campus. Kind words. The President was there.
There were references to Allah by a Muslim cleric, a Jewish representative quoted from Ecclesiastes and a Buddhist representative spoke, too. Jesus Christ, the Lord of all things, wasn't even mentioned by the
Lutheran minister. President Bush himself briefly made mention of "the grace and guidance of a loving God." Close but no cigar, George. There was a moment of nothingness, a.k.a. "a moment of silence," and there's a candlelight vigil tonight.
Imagine! No prayer in the Name above all names,
Jesus Christ. I'm thinking that if there were more of that kind of thing going on, i.e., prayer in Jesus' Name on America's campuses, there would be less of this kind of tragedy to have to deal with - and more strength to deal with such things if and when they DO occur. Jesus said, "What does it profit a man to
gain the whole world yet lose his soul?" Our nation is wealthy, arrogant and imperialistic. We've ushered God out of one institution after another, including our universities.
There are no natural solutions to spiritual problems, folks. Why not turn to the Creator of all things, Jesus Christ, and His book the Holy Bible, when we need answers? Gun control and security systems are obviously riddled with flaws.
MURDER IN THE BIBLE
Tragedies like the one at V-Tech have a way of
causing people to contemplate life - its purpose, eternal things, have suddenly become a hot topic - once the dust has settled. Chatrooms, e-Mail messages, blogs are loaded with this topic as the masses are trying to make sense of what happened and find answers and solace. Rightfully so. We are spiritual
beings enduring an earthly experience and, as long as we are walking around in these earth suits, we need to know.
When I first began reading it, one of the things that I found fascinating about the Bible were the number of "every day things" that took place throughout its pages...adultery, conspiracy, incest, betrayal, wars and, of course, murders. For example:
Genesis 4– Cain kills his brother, Abel, jealous of his relationship with God.
Genesis 9:6– God prohibits the murder of men
because they were created in His image.
Exodus 2:11-12– Moses kills an Egyptian because
Moses saw him beating a Hebrew slave.
Exodus 20:13– The sixth commandment prohibits murder.
Numbers 35:25– There shall be cities of refuge put aside to house those who have killed another, but have not murdered them. The cities are meant for protection from an avenger.
Numbers 35:31– The penalty for murder is death.
Joshua 20:3– Murder is defined as the intentional killing of another with premeditation to do so.
2 Samuel 11:14-17- This recounts King David's actions when he sent Uriah to the front line of the battle because David knew this would get him killed so he could take Uriah's wife, Bathsheba.
DO NOT MURDER...UNLESS GOD SAYS SO?
Exodus 20:13 reflects the commandment, "Thou shalt not murder." This is a direct order from High Command, right? What confuses some people is that, just twelve chapters later,
Exodus 32:27, we read, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every
man his neighbor.' "
The mind boggles! Why would God issue the "no murder" decree, then turn right around and issue that one?
It's not that difficult to comprehend, actually. "Murder" is portrayed in Scripture more as an attitude of the heart. It's
when an individual chooses to "be like God" and determine life or death on their own.
To further understand, let's look at the word "love." When we think of love, images of couples holding hands, people laughing, kissing, embracing each other, might spring to mind.
Never will we have images of a woman wiping strained peas off her elderly father's chin as he sits in his wheel chair. Rarely
would we think of a mother with tear-filled eyes visiting her tattooed, pierced son in jail.
What I'm saying is that things like "Murder" and "love" are attitudes of the heart, choices, not mere activities of the flesh. When God tells the nation of Israel to kill, then Israel is not guilty of murder just as capital punishment or killing in battle does not equate to murder. Today's nineteen year old American soldiers
aren't driven by impassioned hatred over in Iraq or Afghanistan; they're following orders.
Was Abraham murdering his son? If you heard about it on tonight's news, yes, he would be tried and fund guilty of attempted murder. In God's eyes, He was being obedient. By ordering Israel to kill, God bears all responsibility for the loss of life, not Israel. In fact, when Israel failed to obey God's order to kill, they were punished.
Remember when King Saul was instructed to wipe out the Amalekites? He disobeyed God's directive to eliminate the nation of Amalek,the ultimate enemy of Israel. Amalek embodied evil. Their
pathological hatred for Jews was so great, given the chance, they would have wiped the Jews off the face of the planet. Their major ambition was to rid the world of the Jews and their moral influence and return the planet to idolatry, paganism, and barbarism.
Such cosmic battles between good and evil cannot be settled diplomatically. God commanded the Jews to destroy the entire nation, down to the last bovine. Saul waged war against Amalek,
just as commanded, and won. But when it came to fulfilling the decree, he failed, leaving some of the Amalekites alive. At the urgings of the people, even the cows were spared. To make matters worse, Agag, the king of the Amalekites, was also spared.
To this day, Israel continues to struggle with the consequences of Saul's disobedience and the spirit of the Amalekites. That nation
survived as Agag lived long enough to father a child before he is murdered - I mean KILLED - by the Prophet Samuel.
Today, there's no way to identify the descendants of Agag. His descendents are mixed into the melting pot of history. We do
know that the Amalekite ideology survived. There has been more than one occasion when people have arisen bent on exterminating the Jews. The Bible itself mentions that the battle with Amalek
represents the ultimate struggle in history between good and evil: "...I [God] shall surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens...God maintains a war against Amalek from generation to generation." (Ex 17:14-16)
CHRISTIANITY AND MURDER IN AMERICA
Surprisingly, the relationship between Christianity and murder actually runs counter to what we'd expect.
For example, the murder rate in the Bible Belt is significantly HIGHER than the United States average. Louisiana's church attendance rate is #1 in the nation and their murder rate is
DOUBLE the US average. Britain's murder rate is 1/6 what ours is. Australia, Sweden and Japan are 1/5th what we have.
With few exceptions, there are actually very few "advanced" nations that have high rates of church attendance and low rates of murder.
Can we deduce that Christianity causes murder?
No, because Christianity espouses peace, forgiveness, and turning the other cheek, right? Certainly, church attendance doesn't work against these central Christian concepts. Does it? No, of course not. So, what other reversely-related factors can we look for where church attendance is concerned?
First, there's educational levels. Though smart people DO commit murder, let's face it, an educated Church Attender is less likely to be involved in a drive-by shooting.
Secondly, there's economics. A wealthy Church Attender is least likely to fit the profile of a murderer.
Thirdly, there's social tolerance. Many Church Attenders are brought up in an "Us vs. Them" environment and aren't always willing to embrace those who are "different" or aren't from their neighborhood or even their church.
Fourth, a liberal point of view is not likely to be tolerated by many Church Attenders where Baseball, Apple Pie, Uncle Sam and ultra-conservative viewpoints are the norm. Even the
media in many towns won't print things that are true for fear of losing subscribers, customers, and being ostracized by the local good ol' boy network.
Finally, we must also bear in mind that most of our regions that include many Church Attenders ALSO include two minority groups that are statistically associated with higher than average crime rates. In addition, some of these same regions attract the highest concentration of illegal aliens who, statistically, are responsible for a sky-rocketing per centage of crimes.
Do we have mission fields in the United States? Yes. Oddly enough, they appear to be the places where our crime rates are highest and church attendance is the greatest.