The recent school shootings have rocked the hearts and sensibilities of our nation. These terrible tragedies almost seem unbelievable, and yet they happened. As we attempt to understand why they happened, and seek to prevent further occurrences, are we looking in the right places for answers? Solutions have been put forth ranging from banning guns to mental health checks to reevaluating the violent video games that our children play. While the motives of those considering these solutions are most likely pure, they miss the underlying cause, and thus the solution, to the problem. This article will examine the foundational cause of gun violence and then offer the only true solution to the problem…the Biblical solution.
The Root of Violent tendencies
The more humanity seeks to live by its own rules, rejecting God’s lordship, the more we see the results of doing so. Lost humanity craves autonomy; they seek to exercise their perceived right to rule their own lives. As long as this thinking permeates society, we can expect to see behavior such as that exhibited in Sandy Hook and Columbine. When we reject God’s way of doing things, there is simply no other outcome. This is what rebellion against God results in. It is a high cost to pay.
Although motivated by the right spirit, the solutions that are being offered are aimed at the symptoms, not the root cause, of the problem. Laws tend to affect only the law-abiding person; the criminal couldn’t care less about new legislation. Even mental health solutions are too often temporary and incomplete. The problem lies in the hearts of men and women who are living in rebellion to God and contrary to how He intends for us to live.
A Biblical Assessment of the Heart of Man
God knows our hearts and the Bible is His Word to us; therefore, we should understand that the Bible’s assessment of humanity is absolutely accurate. In His Word, we find a concise critique of humanity’s inward condition, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1a ESV; cf. 53:1-2). The first verse of this chapter tells us that this person lives as if he or she believes there is no God. This verse makes it very clear that God calls this kind of attitude ‘foolishness’; and this fool’s heart results in foolish behavior, “They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1b ESV). The Bible’s pronouncement on the heart of man is that it is bent on rebelling against God and instead carries out evil, selfish works.
Again, God says that man’s lost condition is one of bleak hopelessness, “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3 ESV; cf. 53:3). There is not a single person who has ever lived, or ever will live, who is capable of doing good outside of a saving relationship with God. Moreover, lest we think this is confined to Old Testament times, the apostle Paul quotes this exact passage in Romans 3:10-12; where he says that this is the condition of everyone who has not entered into a saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, the next verse is a picture of God’s grace, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God” (Psalm 14:2 ESV; cf. 53:2). Instead of unleashing His holy judgment on humanity, He hopes that more people will love and worship Him. The Bible is clear that God, “…desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 ESV), so that, “…all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV). We are reminded from the Old Testament that God takes, “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11 ESV; cf. 18:23).
The Biblical Solution to Gun, or any other, violence
It is clearly the heart of man that causes him to do the unspeakably evil he does. James writes, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2 ESV). Sinful humanity’s natural tendency is selfishness; if not restrained by laws or societal pressure, he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Many of the most heinous crimes have been perpetrated out of anger, lust or desire, the need for vengeance, or the lack of what we have deemed ‘self-esteem’. People have acted out in terrible ways attempting to quench the need for these, and other, emotional needs. However, these needs can only be met in a relationship with God. This relationship is the biblical solution to violence…a change of heart.
The peace of the redeemed heart
When one turns his or her heart over to God, He washes that heart clean and gives it new desires. No longer will anger, loneliness, heartbreak, or any other selfish “un-Godly” thought be one’s motivation. The desires of the Holy Spirit replace those evil fleshly desires; one is filled with life and peace and the former tendencies are done away with (Romans 8:5-7). A person whose heart is joyful does not commit things like the horrific acts we have witnessed of late. There is no other permanent cure for violence, gun or otherwise, except the complete regeneration of a person’s heart by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This only comes when one repents of his or her sin and dedicates their lives to loving and serving God.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV). There are no laws, statutes, or any other man-made idea that can stop the violence man perpetrates on other men. The problem lies in our hearts, and only God can change the heart. There is no other solution to this problem. Restricting, modifying, or adjusting laws about guns will not stop the violence. It will merely alter the forms through which violence manifests itself. Even addressing mental health issues, without leading people to the Lord, will prove ineffective in the long run. Only a heart change will result in a real cure.
Humans, in their lost condition, are sinking in a morass of immorality that will eventually lead to an eternity of misery, separated from God and His love. The kinds of tragedies that we are seeing should serve as a wake-up call for humankind. It should make it painfully clear that we are doing something wrong. It should cause introspection on an individual, national, and even global level. Hopefully, that introspection will be the start of the path toward Jesus Christ and salvation through faith in Him. Those without a relationship with God should consider what their rejection of Him is costing. As long as one has breath, it is not too late to repent.
Christians should be even more motivated to live, and love, as the Lord leads; never missing an opportunity to represent Jesus Christ to someone else. We have the answer, but we must proclaim it to others. The Gospel is what is needed to change the hearts of the lost and to lead us to more Christ-like existence while we are on this planet. Let us prayerfully consider what God’s will is for us concerning this intensely important issue.
Do you ever wonder what real love is? Read:
Resources – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”