The Newtown tragedy hits me hard for several reasons. My home state is Connecticut and I grew up in a town very much like Newtown. As a pastor celebrating Christmas I cannot help but see the similarity between Newtown and what happened after Jesus' birth. King Herod ordered all children in Bethlehem under two killed because he wanted to kill Jesus and scholars tell us that 20 young children were killed that day the exact number as Newtown's young children. I also feel a responsibility as a moral leader to speak out about this tragedy. Piers Morgan said on his CNN show that it is time for moral leadership and I couldn't agree more though his version of it and mine may be different
What is the answer to this madness? What can be done to stop such senseless violence? Would that the answer was as easy as gun control. How great it would be if that could change such a systemic problem.
The issue is much deeper and more pervasive. We have created a culture of violence and sex for that matter. We glorify evil in our entertainment and then we expect young people to differentiate between fantasy and reality. The Bible puts it clearly when it says, "Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind." I spent this past weekend in New York City. I saw a police presence like I have never witnessed in my life. I suppose one way to avoid these tragedies is to put police and security in just about every conceivable public place though that seems incredibly expensive. Or we could try something else. Stop glorifying violence in movies, television, music, video games and everywhere else. We could send our children and young people a message that these types of behaviors are not worth emulating. I raised two sons. I limited their television to one hour a day. I refused to allow them to purchase or play violent video games. I discouraged music that had a message of violence or mistreatment of anyone. I did it so they would not think violence was normative.
While I was in New York I went to a Christmas pageant. It was uplifting to see children singing, acting and telling the Christmas story. It was especially poignant considering Newtown and it helped some to deal with this heartbreak. I have written a book to help people have comebacks but even I wonder how a parent can come back from something like this. I believe they can but it will take time, support and God's healing. In the meantime there are different approaches we can take and all have some legitimacy but only one is comprehensive. Only a change in our cultural appetite for violence, only a change in our glorification of it can really change these tragedies from continuing.