MASS MURDER - WHY SO RARE?
May 18th, 1927
in Bath Township, MI, Andrew Kehoe set off explosives in
the northern wing of Bath Consolidated School fifteen minutes after the
schoolday began. In a single day, Kehoe murdered 44, wounded 58 more,
then committed suicide by dynamite. Counted among the dead that day
were 38 children. His full plan of destruction failed as 500 pounds of
dynamite and pyrotol in the southern wing of the school failed to
Eighty five years later, America grieved nationally over a similar incident. The most appropriate question in these times might be why we see such violence so rarely. Our culture claims humans are all basically good in heart, so these events drive us to ask what could drive someone to such un-human behavior. Perhaps our good hearts are not what restrains mass murder to rarity. Perhaps instead, the scriptures are true which say, "The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things."(Jer17:9)
Too often, I am shocked at the
sickness in my own heart. I can admit to getting so angry at aggressive
drivers in my city that my mind turns to violent desires. King Jesus
decreed in Matthew 5:22 that anger in my heart makes me so clearly
guilty of murder as to receive punishment from men. He did not say my
anger was "as bad" as murder, but that anger actually makes me guilty
of murder. Anger is not equally as
guilty as murder. Jesus said anger is guilty of murder.
Further, the King explicitly decreed when we call someone stupid, we are guilty of murder as to be damned. To call someone a fool does not make us as guilty as murder. To call someone a fool actually makes us murderers.
Our hearts do not restrain us from mass murder because our hearts are murderous hearts. Society restrains us from doing to one another what our hearts have already done: mass murder. We should not marvel at evil as a novelty, but reflect in these moments on the evil that lurks within. When Bath Consolidated or Sandyhook Elementary are devastated, we would do far better to understand how dark are our human hearts than to be surprised at one man is though he were darker than we. If we can recognize our culture as the force that witholds evil hearts from action, then we can improve what we can improve: our culture. Only God can improve the heart, but we can strengthen the culture which keeps evil hearts in check.
If I commit murder in
agreement with my angry heart, I will suffer my culture's consequences.
The murderer loses friends, loses family, loses freedom, and suffers
punishment. Today we can marvel, not that Adam Lanza was a curiosity,
but marvel at our society which restrains the anger in our hearts and
the great power of the Holy Spirit who alone can transform our hearts
from anger to peace.
Consequences of society are the worldly strength which holds murder at
bay, and the strength of God alone can change the heart of sinful men.
"You have heard that the
ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits
murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone
who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and
whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty
before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty
enough to go into the fiery hell." (Mt5:21-22 nasb)
"Mass Murder - Why So Rare?" by Matthew Bryan was first
published at www.matthewbryan.net January 1st 2013. All rights are