I was informed of the Newtown shootings while returning home last Friday night from a quick trip to South America for work. I rushed to make the connecting flight to Austin and did not take note of any news sources to check world headlines. I was deeply saddened when I heard the passenger next to me relay the horrific event. Before we had started our obligatory chit-chat prior to deplaning I had just penned in a Christmas card to a friend during the 2 hour flight: “Middle East wars, senseless violence…” describing life in 2012 and urging him to consider the importance of who Jesus is.
Including the words “senseless violence” in my Christmas card seemed a little eerie, even prophetic, due to my ignorance of events that had occurred earlier that day. Dozens slain in cold blood, twenty the same age as my grandchildren. The grief must be unimaginable for parents and the community in the northeast. Evil juxtaposed against the Christmas Holiday is not easily missed. This also is not new for the human race. Evil has been around a long time. Yes, this was Evil with a capital E on display and we hope that it does not visit our community in such a fashion. But was this truly an evil act? Will the news media even use the term evil describing this heinous act?
Many in our society have gone down the “path to enlightenment” called secularism where God is hoped to be removed from any relevance to everyday life. This must create confusion in their secular minds because if there is no God, then there can be no definition of evil and all actions are permissible under the guise of self-expression. High priest of this movement, Richard Dawkins, said “there is just no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Imagine the reception this man of learning would have if he were invited to speak at the memorial service. Of course this fool wouldn’t be caught near any such assemblage of mourning. In Dawkins fairy tale world evil has been erased because he understands that to keep his fraudulent and seductive thought processes alive, he has to deny evil so that he can deny that God exists.
In the real world evil exists. We all instinctively know that. Where does it come from one asks? “Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary” as Sherlock Holmes allegedly said. Elementary because its origins are shown in one of the greatest collections of history, poetry, and prose written in a book over 2000 years old; the Bible. Evil originates in the simple act of rebellion by Satan against God. Satan, a created angel, desired more power than his Creator and desired to usurp God’s authority. For this Satan was cast of out the presence of God and took a third of the angels with him. Evil and temptation to commit evil is here now because of Satan’s rebellion. Adam and Eve, our human father and mother chose to follow suit leaving each of us a rebels to God.
Evil is simply any rebellion against God, His perfect Laws, or His perfect attributes of truth, justice, goodness, love, or righteousness. Any act of rebellion qualifies regardless of size or importance. The words of Jesus also remind me that evil lurks in our own hearts. This reality suddenly causes me to reflect on my own past actions and pray for forgiveness for even the minutest offense against a Holy God who is the perfect standard.
Millions sent to concentration camps or slaughtered under despot regimes, child slavery or prostitution, mass killings like Newtown are some of the most horrific scenes from the annals of evil. Yet, in 2012 we rationalize that other human choices like abortion, infidelity, petty larceny, lying, addictions, are merely minor indiscretions or even celebrated events. The shooter in Newtown embarked on a mission to “kill, steal, and destroy” human life. Interestingly, those same words are used by Jesus to describe Satan in John 10:10. Anyone who unjustly kills, steals, or destroys human life is therefore acting as an agent of evil and on Satan’s behalf. Most of the time the perpetrators in these mass killings will take their own lives, not willing to live with the guilty conscious brought on by willful actions. That life ending act by the killer shows the reality of the overwhelming guilt that sin produces and that we as humans are unable to remove guilt by ourselves from our consciences.
As we approach the celebration of Jesus' entrance into this world over 2000 years ago in a lowly stable in Bethlehem, let us remember that Jesus came to shows us the way back to God and redeem us from our sins against God by offering forgiveness to those who repent. Evil will continue on this earth until Judgment Day where all evil will be purged forever and Emmanuel (God with us) reigns on earth in a world free from sin, death, and tears. Evil is real and people are moral agents responsible for their actions. We are not merely dancing blindly to our DNA as Dawkins suggests.
For this Christmas season love your family better than you ever have. Love your neighbor more too. Tend to the needy, the down and out. Life matters, love matters, justice matters, truth matters, goodness matters, compassion matters, kindness matters, sin matters, Christmas matters and yes, evil also matters. In fact, it is a matter of the heart.
Editor's Note: For those who agree with Dawkins that we merely act out of our DNA, I suggest watching the short film By Brian Goddawa, screenwriter of the film "To End All Wars," starring Keifer Sutherland & Robert Carlyle, titled Cruel Logic.