As Missy and I watched the news of what happened in Colorado over the weekend I looked at our two sons who were playing across the room (ages 1 & 3) and said “The shooter used to be like that. What happened to this guy?” What we saw in Colorado last weekend didn’t happen in a vacuum. We live in a culture of objectification. We celebrate people on reality TV but really the whole point is about watching a train wreck. We don’t care about those people. We don’t love those people. They are objects to be enjoyed, not people to be valued. When they cease to catch our attention we toss them to the curb and pick up the next guilty pleasure.
How do guys like this grow into mass murderers? How does a guy go into a room full of people and start shooting like he was in the woods shooting at tin cans? Here is the elephant in the room – we live in an entertainment culture that has trained us to see the people around us as here for our pleasure and nothing more. If you don’t have anything to offer me you mean nothing to me…you are worthless. The ultimate destination of this kind of thinking give people and objects the same amount of value. We call it objectifying people. When you objectify someone you no longer see them as any more valuable to you than your laptop (in some cases, that might be too much value) or a can of coke. Once you assign that kind of value to others you have all the rights to be angry at others. You are in a position to lust after women. You no longer think of murder as murder because our society is telling us that a person and a tin can are worth the same amount and one could just as easily shoot a tin can as they could shoot a person. This is dangerous and this view is rampant.
People keep saying this is a gun issue. They saw the 300+ gun control laws we have on the books aren’t enough. They talk like we can legislate away what is actually an illness in the hearts of Americans. They act like guns carry the responsibility for this problem. Last I checked, guns are inanimate objects that cannot control themselves. People have the responsibility and people are the problem but not people alone…people who are being cultivated and inculturated to de-value life and to honor things like the objectification of others creates a heart issue that is most visibly displayed in shootings like the one that just took place in Aurora.
The solution is not about gun control. The solution is about changing the hearts of people. That is a big responsibility and the church needs to be front and center on the preventative side of helping shape hearts of people to be more Christ-like. I have yet to meet a Christian who was being faithful to God and a mass murdered at the same time. It is just not compatible. Unfortunately, we have created a culture where killings like this flow out of the culture in a more natural way than any of us would like to admit. It appalls us when it happens but it reflects the kind of people our society is developing.
I know there are a lot of strong feelings out there on this one and I more than happy to engage in a loving and respectful dialog on anything I have said here. Thanks for reading.