Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Pastor's View of the Virginia Tech 'Massacre'

First of all, let me say that my heart goes out to the many devastated families who lost children in this unexpected slaughter. It is difficult to capture the horror such an event evokes, even in our calloused and violence-numbed age. I pray that those who grieve are people of faith who can find true comfort in the Risen Christ through whom we have eternal life.

It is now reported that they know the killer (Cho Seung-Hui), and that he was a 23-year old English major at Virginia Tech who displayed his deeply troubled mind in his creative writing. There may have also been some domestic issues as well. The details, it appears, are still sketchy. Authorities are rightly guarded about saying too much.

But aside from the immediately personal "motive," may I venture another perspective? The massacre of 32 people in cold-blooded murder for whatever "reason," is simply the work of pure evil. A retired FBI profiler on the morning news said that mass murderers like Cho are not usually mentally ill. Their rage has built up over a long period of time, and now that it is released, they "dehumanize" their victims. Again, I see the hand of Satan all over this. It is his handiwork for sure. He milks anger for all it's worth until it becomes both internally and externally destructive. And it has always been his method to assist us to "dehumanize" life. People are only objects, things to be manipulated and used. For all of our talk of respecting people's rights, we often show little care for them as people. We exploit them sexually for pleasure. We eliminate the pre-born for convenience. The list goes on.

Jesus called the devil "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). You may remember that it was by the fourth chapter of Genesis that the first murder took place. It was motivated by jealousy and misplaced anger (anger, it could be said, that was at least partly directed against God himself!). But it was fueled as well by the evil that lurked in from the shadows of chapter 3. It was the same evil that motivated Lamech at the end of chapter 4 who killed a man "for wounding" him, and "a young man" for "injuring" him. Evil uses personal pain as a catalyst for wicked revenge.

Herod personifies best the man driven by evil rage to kill the innocent. History bears out that he killed many of his own family before turning on the infants of Bethlehem. Yes, Satan was there too. His fingerprints are on the murder weapons. We bear our own guilt, to be sure. But Satan never misses a chance to exploit a troubled mind.

I am thankful that God has provided the Kingdom of the Left to protect us from great violence and danger. But evil will always be creative and persistent in bringing about destruction and pain regardless of what we do. That is why I would not be so critical of the security on the campus that day (as some have been because they did not immediately 'lock down' the campus after the first two shootings, or that the campus was so open and vulnerable.) We can try as hard as we might to contain evil. But the battle will rage until our Lord returns in glory at the end of time. So it is with places like Iraq as well. We need to always fight for peace and safety. But we should not be discouraged that attaining these goals perfectly in this life is not possible. Instead, we look for hope to the day when the devil is cast permanently into hell and the last enemy of death is finally destroyed and victory is complete.


Michael G said...


Antidepressants are being linked as a cause for some murders and suicides. See this site for more info: http://www.drugawareness.org/home.html

(Michael Moore notwithstanding ...)

D. Engebretson said...

Thank you for the link. I had heard about the relationship between antidepressants and violent behavior sometime before in the news. Drugs can certainly alter and influence behavior and have been a contributing source of much destructive behavior. However, I must admit that even given this factor, I would struggle with it being solely responsible for what happened at Virginia Tech, if indeed, Cho was on meds. Then again, you say "a" cause,not the "the" cause, and that is probably the way it should be seen in some cases - a contributing issue among others.