From my friend, pastor and author Richard Exley —
Like many of you I am grief stricken by the tragic mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, earlier today. According to the latest reports 27 people are dead including 18 children. Earlier this week a gunman opened fire in a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon, killing two and seriously wounding another before taking his own life.
Of course murder is nothing new. From the time Cain killed Able until now the human race has a long history of cold-blooded atrocities. Still, there seems to be something different, something more sinister about the random killings being perpetrated by these troubled young men. For the most part their killing sprees were not prompted by religious fanaticism or political ideology or even personal revenge. Their victims were strangers by and large – innocent victims – and seemed to be chosen at random.
Mark Kopta, chairman and professor in the department of psychology at the University of Evansville in Indiana, has researched extensively the country’s mass killings, which he defines as attacks leading to the deaths of at least five people, including the killer’s suicide. He found three incidents in the United States fitting this profile between 1930 and 1970. Three more followed over the course of the 1970s. In the 1980s, however, there were ten such incidents of mass murder. The 1990s had seventeen; and, since the new millennium began, there have been twenty-five such mass murders. Six of them occurred last year. And 2009 has already topped that with eight such killings. There have been nine mass murders in 2012.
So what’s going on? Why this sudden rise in mass killings? Are they just a statistical fluke?
There are no easy explanations, no pat answers. The conditions conspiring to produce these troubled young men are varied and complex. The entertainment industry continues to produce video games, music and movies that glorify violence. Liberal politicians, jurists and even educators insist that there are no moral absolutes, creating a society where each person is a law unto himself. Corruption in high places, within business, government and the church, has produced a jaded cynicism in young and old alike. Then there’s the economic meltdown worldwide and the resulting despair. Finally there is rampant divorce and the resulting dissolution of the traditional family creating a generation of lost souls.
While all of these are contributing factors they are not the root cause. The root cause is spiritual rather than sociological or even psychological. America made a covenant with death and we are now reaping the unintended consequences. That covenant was sealed on Monday, January 22, 1973, when the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2, in the now infamous Roe v. Wade decision. When the highest court in the land rules that killing the child in your womb is an acceptable way of dealing with your unplanned pregnancy, we shouldn’t be surprised when children reared in such a culture turn to murder and suicide when life becomes overwhelming.