What is the Bible’s Response to Violence?

America has once again been stunned by outbursts of unthinkable violence. Mass shootings are happening far too frequently. Murder remains a regular feature on the evening news. Every time someone shoots up a school or unloads into a crowded restaurant, Christians need to address these tragedies with compassion and thoughtfulness.

Christian love demands we show genuine concern for all affected by these awful crimes. Whether the victims schoolchildren, gangmembers or police officers, the Christian must respond with heartfelt compassion for all who suffer at the hands of others. The wanton taking of a human life is always a horrible evil. Every person is created in the image of God. To harm a person is to attack the image of God. Every murder is a direct affront to the dignity and glory created in every person by God. Christians must clearly denounce any murderous act as a horrible evil without attempting to justify, excuse or mitigate the wickedness of the attack.

Horrendous deeds remind us the corruption of sin has filled this world with evil. The first person on the earth killed his brother. One of his descendants bragged about killing a man. Within a few generations the earth was filled with wickedness. God said, “The earth is filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:13) Murder is the inevitable result when men forsake God and pursue their own desires. Murder strikes down fellow human beings who bear the image of God. Murder destroys life and desecrates the image of God. Murder is a great evil which has been around since the earliest days of human history.

Even those who might be inclined to deny any moral absolutes acknowledge mass shootings are a terrible evil. The Christian need not argue about whether the problem is caused by guns, mental illness, religion, lack of religion or the shooter’s upbringing. The Biblically informed believer can say with confidence that whatever the immediate contributing factors to individual acts of violence, the tragedy occurred because everyone is corrupted by sin. The present excess of violence, hatred and destruction shows that sin is all too real.

The problem of evil drives us to seek a solution. The Christian knows the only hope for mankind is Jesus. Gun control, mental health solutions and better education may be worthwhile goals, but they are unable to solve the problem of sin. Those with murder in their hearts will find a way to execute their desires. The only solution is a heart transformed by Jesus. In Christ evil desires begin to be replaced with good. Only in Jesus does humanity find hope for genuine righteousness and an end to the evils of this world.

Above all else, the Christian must never forget that in the end God will overthrow man’s wickedness. Psalm 2 says, ” Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD . . . He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Wicked men will rage against God and man, but in the end Jesus will punish all evil and will establish His righteous kingdom.