Another tragedy occurred yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, in Florida. First my prayers and condolences go out to those effected including school personnel, children, their parents, families, and neighbors. And I also include the shooter and his family. They need our prayers as well. We may never understand why this shooting happened, but in some ways understanding why it happened doesn’t really matter. It was an act of hate—evil.
Pray and Reflect
These tragedies can cause us to become angry and fearful. That’s okay as long as we do not let those emotions control our actions. We must, as individuals and a society, rise above such things. There are several steps we each can take. The first step is simply to pray. As noted above for all of those who were directly touched by the shooting. Pray for their healing, and for those who lost their life.
Don’t stop there. Also offer prayers of thanksgiving for the safety of our families, friends, and neighbors. Pray that such shootings will never happen again. But most of all reflect and pray for God to lead you, and us as a nation; in how we live, the choices we make, and the things we do. He had a direct hand in creating this nation. To know that one simply needs to look at our history.
This is a time for reflection, on who we are both as individuals and a society. The single most important item to reflect on is where you’ve placed God in your life. When He is not first we are much more likely to make poor choices and act unwisely. None of these things prevent evil from occurring again. We weren’t promised life would be easy. We were promised we would never be alone; God will always be with us, and He will lead us through whatever we face.
The Politics of Hate
I only watched a little of the coverage as it was too much to bear. The media was already beginning to politicize the event in the first few hours by talking about mental illness. And today came the cries from our media, politicians, and talking heads for gun controls. We are all too familiar with the drill. Their narrative is another lie, and an asinine position. As we reflect on who we are as a people, I hope you will consider the following.
I’ve never seen a gun go off by itself in search of someone in order to shoot them. It takes a person making a choice to pull the trigger and commit the act. The specific instance doesn’t matter so much as these types of shootings are all driven by hate.
Why? Why does there seem to be more hate today? What I’m going to say will not be popular with the media or some of our leaders, but it is no less true. As a society we’ve largely turned away from God. We are each free to make our own choices, that is the gift of free will we each received from God. However, with that freedom comes great responsibility, and that responsibility can only be effectively exercised when we are turned toward Him. When we turn away from Him, He allows us to go our own way. That choice is ours and not His, and as we’ve seen over the last ten years it at times cost us a great deal.
Think this notion is wrong? Consider, our leaders are a reflection of who we are as a society—a people. I hope you will think about the following three recent events in your reflections. Let me preface this discussion by saying that not all of our political representatives are bad, and that fault can be found with both parties. We only need to look at their actions, and what they choose not to act upon.
Late Term Abortion
First, only last month the Senate voted against ending late term abortions. Why? Because some claim there is not yet a life involved. It’s only a fetus that has no rights. The problem is this too is a lie.
Let me offer an analogy supporting that statement. Consider a seed. Any seed. Say a kernel of corn. That kernel represents the potential for life, much like the sperm and egg we possess as men and women. Plant that seed in the soil—and if there is moisture, warmth, and fertile ground—the seed grows. When is the seed alive? Is it only after it breaks forth from the ground, or does it need to be so many centimeters from the surface before it’s considered to be alive? I would say that once the seed germinates, and begins to work to split its covering that the seed is alive. If that first step doesn’t happen, then none of the subsequent events will either as it is a dependent and necessary condition.
It is no different for a child. Once the sperm and egg combine, a life is created. Any contrary arguments are analogous to saying the seed hasn’t yet broken the surface (birth) or it isn’t yet close enough to the surface (only x number of weeks along and therefore not alive). Ending that life too is an act of hate—evil. It is as much evil and murder as the deaths that occurred in this shooting. Period.
Immigration and DACA
There continues to be much turmoil about foreigner’s status in our land. Arguments claim to focus on the compassion we should have as a society, over an executive order that was illegally and unconstitutionally created. Those arguments too are lies. In support of that statement what does the Bible say about treating foreigners in one’s land? It turns out much.
We are not to take advantage of aliens, and we are not to mistreat them. We are to care for them as we would any other disadvantaged person within our society—with charity. We are to care for them just as we would widows, orphans, and the elderly - those unable to fully take care of themselves.
However, that does not mean they should become citizens. In his Summa Theologicæ, Thomas Aquinas noted a distinction between peaceful and hostile foreigners. For any individuals wishing to be admitted to Israel’s society, a period was to exist allowing for the common good of their newly adopted society to become entrenched within the immigrant’s heart. In short a time for them to fully integrate into their new society. That integration period was three generations, and only if you came from certain countries. It was an affair of the heart that allowed sufficient time for a correct judgment, for justice to occur. Integration by immigrants into their newly adopted society is expected, and political authorities have a responsibility in this area. The full article can be found here.
Just the previous week, Congress passed a bipartisan bill to fund the federal government. To do that they simply raised the spending caps they themselves had put into place. They didn’t even consolidate those caps down into a single spending cap. It is unfortunate that bipartisanship today means not addressing our problems, but instead placing them on the backs of future generations. It is wrong and immoral.
Both sides tout what they got from the deal, and that what they got was necessary. That is true, but it came at the very high cost of not dealing with our real problems. Problems that were created by the very government voting to raise their spending levels. Entitlement spending like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and supporting Obamacare. Such votes do not show leadership, but a lack of compassion for the very people our elected officials took an oath before God to serve. Both the inaction on immigration and passing the recent spending bill are abdications of responsibility. But that is not entirely their fault, because in the end we elect them. We need to do better, so that they will also do better.
The hatred and lack of compassion we see all too often today reflect the absence of love that occurs when we are turned away from God and toward ourselves. The proof? God is love. When we turn from God, we turn from love, and hate tries to find a way in. While following Him won’t eliminate all of our troubles, it will make our difficulties more bearable. We are still human and will make mistakes, but in the end what matters is that we are striving in the right direction. We may never get there, but if we are trying we will certainly get much closer than if we do not try. The three examples above all indicate our leadership’s moving away from morality—away from God.
The truth doesn’t change. It is constant as God is constant. We don’t need to know or understand all the lies. We just need to know the truth and to be able to discern when something is a lie. We will only get that kind of clarity when we pray, read scripture, and then act in accordance with God’s will.