Mass shootings like the one that just occurred in Las Vegas always stir up our opinions on gun control. People are killed every day with guns, but it takes something big to get our attention, and when it does happen, the emotions run high.
I would guess that most of the individuals who are fighting for stronger gun control in America are of a younger age; those of us who are older hold tightly to our constitutional right to bear arms, and aren’t convinced that stricter laws are the answer. Many people my age and older have experienced first had what happens when the government takes away a people’s right to defend themselves. It is a volatile subject, and like most issues today, there are no easy answers.
I see both sides. If guns were harder to obtain, and one had to pass a mental health test to qualify, then yes, there would be fewer guns on the streets, and logically the number of deaths caused by guns would decline. But it’s a slippery slope. Who determines what qualifies as “mentally stable”? I also see wisdom in limiting the number of guns one could own. How many shotguns do you need to go hunting? Does the average American really need to buy an assault rifle? Unless you are planning a takeover of some sort, do you really need a stockpile of various weapons that would impress James Bond? Common sense, good character, and moderation in all things seems to be sorely missed in our culture.
This highly-debated topic reminds me, however, that the law only addresses the symptoms of a broken system. What is the purpose of law? Laws are not for the law-abiding. They are for the law-breaker. Laws are only meant to correct outward behavior, and they can never change a person’s character or will. They are a boundary for our actions, not the source.
The cause of mass shootings is not the availability of guns. Guns are simply the chosen tool. The cause is the empty, wicked, lonely and broken heart of men and women who have no spiritual hope.
God created us for a relationship with Him. The Bible tells the story in Genesis 1 and 2. Adam and Eve were created by God, and came to life when He breathed His very breath into their bodies. They were made perfect, holy. No wicked thoughts. No desire to kill. Only good, and God says, “very good.” But something happened. God gave Adam and Eve a great gift – the gift of free will. They took this gift, and rebelled against Him, and sin entered the world. Because of sin, death came, and every one of us inherited this spiritual death in our soul. We are separated from God, and prone to wickedness.
The answer for sin is not the law. God gave His chosen people the law – the ten commandments, not to enable them to regain perfection, but to prove that without a heart change – a spiritual transplant, they would ALWAYS break the law. Just like our laws today do not prevent anyone from criminal activity; they simply expose it.
What is the answer? Are we hopeless? We would be, except Jesus, the Son of God, stepped into our world to take care of our sin. We are the law-breakers, but He took our punishment on the cross, and gave us the opportunity to accept this payment and stand in His righteousness. He changed places with us. When we recognize our sinfulness and turn away from it, surrendering our lives to God, He gives us a brand new heart and puts His Spirit inside of us. This is the only way we will ever overcome the wickedness of our sin, and it is the only answer to the problems of humanity.
My niece reminded me recently that yes, it would have been nice for the shooter in Las Vegas to have a preemptive change of heart before he chose to kill 59 people and injure countless others, then kill himself. I love her choice of words: preemptive change of heart.
Preemptive means something taken as a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared; a preventive or deterrent. What a beautiful word, when we hold it up in light of the Gospel.
The Gospel is our only true deterrent to sin.
I saw the truth of this statement up close and personal a few years ago when I visited Kenya. We walked through the second largest slum in the world – a horrible, sad place created out of the corruptness of government and the lost hearts of men. Earlier that day we had heard a speaker tell us that thousands of children had come through the program of Compassion – a gospel-centered organization, over the last decade. It became so clear to me. The answer to fixing our world’s problems is not better government, stronger laws or more money. The world will change when people’s hearts change – when the gospel saturates a generation.
Do you want to change the world?
Would you like for your children and grandchildren to grow up in a better, kinder society?
Then spend your life for what is truly impactful … what can truly make a difference in a person’s life: the gospel.
Whether God calls you to be a civil servant, a lawyer, a doctor, or an Indian chief, focus your time and talent and energy on the real answer. Address the symptoms of a sinful society the best way you know how, but remember – the real cause is the heart. Until we recognize the condition of our sinful selves, we’re only biding our time until another outbreak of wickedness occurs.
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?
Ezekiel 36:26 – Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
John 3:16-21 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.