The Arizona Tragedy: Life and Death in a Fallen World

A crime causing unimaginable pain occurred January 8, 2011 in Arizona, involving fatalities, including the precious nine-year old granddaughter of a former major league baseball manager and United States Federal Judge. The accused murderer injured thirteen others, including a congresswoman who, from all reports, was the intended target. Any loss of human life is tragic and heartbreaking. All life is precious and sacred. Each has value and importance because each person is a bearer of the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

For the vast majority of us, it is difficult, if not impossible to imagine the horror, grief, and sorrow experienced by survivors, family and friends of all the victims. Yet we all see this for the senseless act of violence it is against people, many who were simply in the wrong place at that particular time. Some individuals, quick to politicize and moralize the tragedy, attempt to blame someone other than the actual perpetrator, casting guilt onto persons or groups perceived to be political, ideological, or theological enemies. Yet, at this writing, not a shred of evidence has been discovered to suggest that the perpetrator was influenced by a modern political party or individual other than himself and his own twisted, perverted and sinful understanding of life.

Some evidence does exist to support the belief that he claimed to be an atheist, listing some of his favorite literary works as The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels) and Mein Kampf (Hitler). Nevertheless, we assert that the actual perpetrator himself is culpable for this heinous act (worthy of the death penalty [Gen. 9:6; Romans 13:4]). This young man is not OK or well. He is not merely sick. He is not neutral about anything. He is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). He is in bondage to sin (Romans 6:1-23). He is a servant of one or more of the masters of men—the world, the flesh or the devil (Eph. 2:2-3; 1 John 2:15-17). Ultimately, he succumbed to the sinful desires of the flesh and mind, as a child of wrath he is.

Thus, the fundamental reason this happened: the fallen, depraved nature of man. We do not want to appear cold or analytical about the shooting of anyone involved in this tragedy. As long as sinful, fallen creatures inhabit this planet, mankind will commit horrific crimes against fellow man. From the time of the fall in Genesis 3, we have had one sinful act piled upon another. The narrative in Genesis 4-6 is one that simply stuns us into silence as we read of depravity upon depravity (polygamy, murder, etc.,) and the consequences of such actions, “… and he died” (Gen. 5:5, 8, 11, etc.,). By the time we get to Noah’s day, less than some 1,700 years after creation by some estimations, and a population conservatively said to number in the billions, God sees nothing of benefit in the heart of man, but “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). In other words, the depravity of man had taken on a “life of its own.” It had grown from that one act of disobedience to the point that the term “depraved” characterized what it meant to be human. Since that time, our race has been spiraling downward toward a spiritual degeneracy, and we can only speculate how low it will descend. In fact, the Scriptures indicate that if it were not for the promise of the Lord’s return, humanity will not survive (Matt. 24:22).

At times like this we should deeply appreciate the restraining work of the Holy Spirit (Gen. 6:3; 2 Thes. 2:6-12; 1 John 4:4). The degree to which evil will permeate the world after the rapture of the church is described throughout the Scriptures, as it depicts life on this planet during the seven-year tribulation period. Yet even during this age of grace, the “spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2) exercises incredibly destructive and wicked plans and events upon humanity that we witness on a daily basis, going from bad to worse (2 Tim. 3:13).

Are there solutions to this?

Some feel that a “moment of silence” at a specific time will do something to heal or provide comfort to the survivors. Some claim this is to be done to provide a time to “reflect.” Yet in reality, this “moment of silence” is an illustration of the emptiness and hopelessness of those who seek to give worthless counsel and actually drive people away from the true, living and eternal God who alone will bring comfort and consolation at times of great sorrow of heart and confusion (2 Cor. 1:3-4). The morally and spiritually bankrupt theology of liberalism will provide absolutely nothing of value to this or any other situation. Only turning to the true and living God will provide peace, security and comfort amidst times of great sorrow and sadness such as this shooting. He alone is “the mighty Counselor” (Isa. 9:6).

Our prayers are with the family members and survivors of this and other acts of sin whenever they are committed. While we grieve for those who have lost loved ones, our prayer remains that our message of the gospel of Jesus Christ will reach into hearts and minds at these times (2 Thes. 3:1-2).  We remind all who will listen that we must turn to Jesus Christ to be reconciled to God and forgiven of sin. This is the greatest, most urgent need we all have (2 Cor. 5:19-21). — Pastor Gary Freel