Why Do Mass Shootings Keep Happening?
Acts of violence on a large scale are becoming almost commonplace in these end times. What is the cause of human violence? Will it ever end?
April 20, 1999.
That was the day our world changed forever.
With only about a month left of the 1998-1999 school year, two disturbed high school students walked into Columbine High School (in Littleton, Colorado) and carried out a massacre on a scale that shocked the world. This tragedy is now known simply as Columbine. It changed us forever and incited debate and discussion on a wide number of issues—guns, bullying, violent video games, mental health, etc. Those passionate conversations continue today, about 20 years later.
Sadly, Columbine was not an isolated incident. Now we have many massacres that we can immediately remember by just naming a location—Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland and now Annapolis. No matter how many measures have been put in place to try to prevent it and no matter how much we talk about solving this problem—mass shootings continue to happen again and again.
So why do we continually experience these man-made tragedies? What drives a person to carry out murder on such a large scale? Will this ever stop happening?
Let’s consider some biblical answers.
Murder is sin—and sin has a cause.
When pundits dissect and analyze these tragedies, they often give a litany of explanations for why people would murder on such a scale. But they often ignore the root cause—sin.
The Bible defines sin as breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). Before God created human beings, He established law to govern how we should live. That law wasn’t devised randomly, but was based on God’s character, which can be summed up in one word—love (care, concern and goodness toward others). He created us to share His character and promised wonderful blessings for doing so.
But, instead of embracing God’s law, the first human beings chose to deviate from it and embraced sin—which is another way of saying they chose selfishness (Genesis 3). That’s what sin is when you really narrow it down to its simplest form. When we ignore the law designed to teach us how to show love to others, the result is always selfishness—which, in turn, always causes suffering.
Shortly after the first two human beings chose the path of selfishness, one of their children exhibited selfishness in its ugliest form—murder (Genesis 4). Now, 6,000 years later, human beings are still murdering each other. Whether it’s someone killing one man with a club, a dozen people with a gun, hundreds of people with a bomb or thousands through warfare—the root cause is the same: the rejection of God’s law and way of life.
Until human beings repent and change from a life motivated by selfishness to one driven by God’s love, mass violence will continue to happen.
Please read our article “What Is Repentance?” to learn how you can make this change in your life today.
Violence has an instigator—and he is very active.
Though acts of violence are ultimately the choice of an individual, we can’t ignore that there is an unseen force that inspires and instigates evil. Satan committed the first sin when he rebelled and selfishly tried to exalt himself above God (Isaiah 14:13-14).
No matter what human measures are taken to prevent acts of mass violence, the ultimate battleground against violence is the human mind.Since the creation of humankind, Satan has been influencing human beings to think like he does. Two of Satan’s core characteristics are murder and lies (John 8:44), so it should not surprise us that these two issues continually plague us. He uses his attitudes and spirit to influence the human mind to willingly choose selfishness (Ephesians 2:2).
No matter what human measures are taken to prevent acts of mass violence, the ultimate battleground against violence is the human mind. Until human minds are freed from Satan’s influence and human nature is changed through God’s Spirit, there will continue to be violence.
The good news is that there is a way for us to escape and fight that influence with God’s help (James 4:7; Colossians 1:13). That starts with each one of us individually. To learn how to battle these influences in your life, read how to “Put on the Armor of God.”
God is not to blame—we are.
When tragedies occur, human beings often resort to blame. Sometimes the blame falls on the weapon, sometimes on the individual using the weapon and sometimes on a whole society. But tragically, sometimes people also blame God through this kind of thinking: If God is all powerful and loving, why doesn’t He just stop violence before it happens? Why does He seem to sit idly by and let it happen? Why doesn’t He just make the world peaceful and happy?
Here is the simplest answer to those questions: God wants the exact same thing. He doesn’t want and never intended His creation to be like this. He didn’t create people to go into a public place with a high-powered weapon to end as many lives as possible.
He created human beings to live in peace. He created the first man and woman in a perfect environment and gave them the clear path (His law) to maintain it. Adam and Eve, and then their offspring and then the rest of us who came later on, chose to make this world like it is. Because we have made the decision to live apart from God, He has generally separated Himself from us and allowed us to experience the consequences of our decisions (Proverbs 1:31).
Along with Satan, we are to blame—not God.
Mass violence will be stopped.
God does offer an alternative. He offers a plan of salvation that allows us to personally escape from perpetuating the lifestyle that has caused this world to be the way it is. Every one of us can willingly choose to embrace God’s way of life based on love for others.
But God’s plan isn’t limited to just individuals changing their lives in the here and now.
Bible prophecy shows that, left on its own, our world (as a whole) will never willingly choose to change. The acts of violence we see in our world today will culminate in a time when mankind will be on the brink of self-destruction (Matthew 24:22).
Before that happens, Jesus Christ will intervene to stop the carnage resulting from human selfishness. Through overwhelming spiritual force, end-time prophecy shows He will regain control of this earth. He will restrain Satan and his demons. Then He will begin the process of rebuilding the world He originally intended. By enforcing His laws and making the positive consequences clear, He will build a new world based on His way of love to replace a world nearly destroyed by human selfishness. (Read Isaiah 2 and 11 for some wonderful descriptions of that world!)
And, yes, His plan includes those throughout history who lived, suffered and died in our world. There is coming a time when all mankind will be resurrected to live again in a better world. There is hope for those who had their lives snuffed out in random acts of violence. They will live again. They will be healed. And families will be reunited.
There is so much to say about this coming time. It is the ultimate good news—the central theme of the entire Bible—the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Our world needs this hope. The families of those who die in acts of mass violence need this hope. Those who perpetrate evil need this hope. You need this hope.
When mass shootings and other acts of human violence happen, remember this message of hope. Remember that violence has a cause. But, more important, remember that it also has a solution. Be a part of the solution by embracing God’s way of life now and praying for the ultimate solution to come soon:
The return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
PHOTO: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana