As the story of the tragedy Colorado unfolds, here are a few thoughts:
1) Before we attempt to politicize, theologize, analyze, or any other “ize” this we must remember that what those people experienced on that night was the manifestation of pure evil in its darkest form. It is unimaginable what they went through and the road to recovery that lies ahead for the survivors and their loved ones. There will be scars of all types for decades to come, and we must not lose sight of that.
2) We cannot exchange our freedom for fear. I purposely took Ryan to see Batman the following morning, just as I had planned prior to this tragedy. The theater was crowded even at that early hour, and yes, I kept a watchful eye. But had we stayed home out of fear, as many now say they would do, then evil has truly prevailed. It’s not just about the odds of it happening again (which are very slim), its about principle. You still get on the plane after 9/11, you still travel to the Middle East after you hear of a kidnapping, and you still go to the movies after something like this. Otherwise the world becomes dreadfully small.
3) I did not tell Ryan about the shooting until after the movie. While I debated this in my head early this morning, I came to the conclusion that an 11 year-old boy deserves the opportunity to sit through a movie and not be consumed by fear. If my son is afraid to go to the movies, then, once again, evil has prevailed.
4) This is not a “gun control” issue – it is a theological issue. Guns are an effective way to kill people. But if every one of them magically disappeared, men would invent yet another way to dispatch his neighbor as easily as possible. The root issue is the human heart, not the device used to carry out its intentions.
5) Since the beginning human beings have had to deal with their propensity for evil, in this case, murder. While most of us would never commit such an act, all of us possess the raw material in our hearts to do it. Most of us may never have to come face to face with such an experience, but when it does manifest itself in such a common environment as a movie theater, we are once again horrified at the human heart at its worst. By citing the weapon as the problem, we misdiagnose the situation and thus are unable to see the problem clearly.
6) In addition to understanding our propensity for evil, we must also acknowledge that all human beings are created in the image of God. Based on that, all reasonable measures must be taken to ensure the safety and protection of innocent human life. Rather than misdiagnosing the problem as “gun control,” we are now able to see the situation as one where we understand both a) the capacity for evil in the human heart and, b) the need to respect human life. That frees us to come up with creative solutions to the threats that we face, rather than the myopic but fashionable conclusion that merely “guns” are the problem.
7) Unfortunately, both notions are under attack in our society today. First, most people wish to deny the human being’s capacity for evil, and second, great attempts are being made to distance humanity from its Creator. The narrative today is that we evolved, we’re accidents, we need no image with which to be created in. Because both of these points are lost on giant swaths of society, evil such as this becomes both inconceivable to us and leaves us paralyzed in our response.
8) If we as a society embraced these two notions, we then could begin to move forward with solutions that directly address the problem. No, we won’t be able to eradicate evil completely in this life. But we could begin to answer questions like:
- Do businesses such as movie theaters have a responsibility to protect their patrons from conceivable threats?
- Should everyone be allowed to carry a gun regardless of training or experience?
- Do we fully understand the effects that depictions of violence have on our view of the value of human life?
- How can we prepare our general citizenry to respond to acts of violence should they be placed in that situation?
In any case, we’ll have plenty of time to think through these issues. What’s most important now is continued prayers for the victims and their families, that God would bring peace and healing.