17 Dec How Can God Allow Horrific Evil Like School Shootings?
Unsurprisingly, our national conversation about gun violence intensifies following any well-publicized shooting or murder, especially if it occurs in a school or public setting. The recent massacre in Parkland, Florida, for example, leaves many of us searching for answers. As a Christian who happens to be a homicide detective, I’ve wrestled to understand how an all-powerful, all-loving God would allow the horrific evil I’ve observed over the years. Human free-will is an important part of the answer. If God exists and wants us to genuinely love one another, He must first allow us something dangerous: personal freedom. This kind of liberty is risky, because it must, by it’s very nature, also allow the freedom to do great harm. Human free agency is a double-edged knife, and each of us must decide how we will handle it responsibly.
So, as I talk with others about what happened in Parkland (or in any other recent shooting), I do my best to address the issues as both a detective and a Christian, balancing the relationship between our God-given freedoms and our civic responsibilities:
Our Freedoms and Responsibilities Related to Gun Possession
Many, in response to gun violence, are inclined to call for the elimination (or drastic restriction) of guns in our country. Others resist any such limitation. Once again, we must balance both our freedoms and our responsibilities. As a Christian, I believe deadly force can be properly justified, but as a detective (and a gun owner), I’ve seen this freedom abused. For this reason, I find myself asking measured questions: Who should be disqualified from gun ownership based on prior criminal behavior or mental illness? What forms of gun security (i.e. locks or safes) should be legally required? What kinds of consequences should be expected for people who allow their guns to fall into the hands of others (even their own kids)? As a Christian, I understand the importance of retaining the freedom to defend ourselves from evil, but as a detective, I understand the responsibility that comes with such a liberty.
Our Freedoms and Responsibilities Related to Mental Illness
It doesn’t surprise me that authorities were aware of the killer in Parkland, even before he acted. This is often the case, given our national approach to mental illness. As a culture, we are hesitant to restrict people’s freedoms, and we lack the financial resources to do so, even if we wanted to.
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By J. Warner Wallace
March 12, 2018