Today and very likely for many days to come, the news is and will be full of the senseless killings of 12 students and a teacher, two suicides, and the wounding of 20 others at Littleton, Colorado. This most recent school violence caused a mother who lost her 17-year-old daughter to ask, “Why doesn’t anyone have an answer?” Educators give psychological counseling to the surviving students and their parents, but their answer to the “Why?” is, “We don’t know.” More funding for programs to recognize the potential mass murderers is not the answer. Students are told that we descended from animals and there are no absolutes. We should not be surprised then that they behave like animals.
An unbelieving world responds with such statements as “Life is meaningless… We only exist by an accident. . . There is no God.” Karl Sagan, in his book, “Contact” claims that Christianity has no answers. Liberal religious leaders respond, “We can’t find the answers in the Bible, but we believe that God is love… ” Is there no answer from the Bible to the “Why?” We believe there is.
This atrocity reminds us of Ephesians 4:18, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Sociology finds secondary causes in the environment of such violent individuals. They blame a dysfunction in the family such as early abuse or rejection, but this is not the primary cause. The answer lies in the heart of fallen man. It is human depravity. God’s indictment of mankind is, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, …” (Rom 1:29). The envy of these murderers was against other students who they believed had preferential treatment because of athletic ability or their race. “Envy (is) the rottenness of the bones” (Prov 14:30).
But why does a God of infinite power and love allow such atrocities? The love of God is infinite, but He is also a God of absolute holiness. God made “man” a moral creature, “And God said, Let us make man… after our likeness…” (Gen 1:26). One of the primary principles of morality is “choice”. God could have created creatures without choice, but they would also have been creatures without moral will, voluntary love or the ability to worship. If, after giving man the choice between good and evil, God were to intervene by canceling the results of a wrong choice, there would have been no real choice in the beginning.
The answer to the “Why?” of the violence in Littleton, CO. Oklahoma City, or anywhere else in our troubled world, is the biblical doctrine of total human depravity. It is normal for society to blame God or to find in family background or educational failure the cause for such an inexplicable tragedy. The real answer is in the hearts of sinners such as we.