By Pastor Doug Bankson
How do we make sense out of such insanity?
Everyone is reeling over the inhuman massacre of innocent lives in Las Vegas, the latest in a string of attacks that seem to be worsening with each passing day. To say this was a sick act is an understatement. Heinous comes to mind. How could a man who was wealthy, successful, and to those who knew him an otherwise apparently normal person commit such an act? The even greater question is, what is happening to our nation and our world?
While no one simple answer explains every complex situation, there is an overriding and systemic issue that gives rise to a climate of the selfish and wanton taking of lives. Self governance was designed for a moral people, and fails without moral restraints. George Washington was famously quoted as saying, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” John Adams, our second president also warned, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
These statements denote something deeper that restrains society from falling into anarchy. But let me first make a few other observations:
Stricter gun control is an emotional and easy target that misses the mark. No amount of gun control laws have the power to police the inward dealings of a man. It is already against the law to commit such crimes and yet they haven’t stopped them, so more laws will simply take away the rights of law abiding citizens protected by the second amendment, and leave them even more prey.
Many point to the socio-economic problems, but obviously that was not the case here, nor is it in the millions of poor yet happy people that live decent and good lives all over the world.
We could seek to blame distraught situations, yet again there are many who face devastation and would never think of doing such a horrific act. Tragedies abound, and yet for many they display amazing acts of overcoming adversity.
Yes laws are necessary for the governing of any society, but they alone cannot solve the issue. Law is the delineating of standards of conduct for mankind to live in liberty with one another. Law labels crime and metes its punishment, and becomes a deterrent for an individual to understand that bad actions bring bad consequences.
But the true problem lies deeper than reason alone, which is why this insane act in Vegas makes no sense to the normal individual. It goes to the very heart and soul of a man. You see, God created us with a self governing tool called conscience. It is an internal knowledge of right and wrong, written into the heart of men, like a spiritual DNA code, that will ever separate us from artificial intelligence. It is not something you can merely educate into the core of a person or even force such action against their will.
Conscience is an innate control valve that is more tied to love than to reason. True love will work no ill toward its neighbor, thus demonstrating by intuitive knowledge what God’s law spells out.
All of God’s laws are the aforementioned standards of conduct that logically delineate what an uncorrupted and un-seared conscience knows. It was understood by our founders as universal law, aka the laws of nature and nature's God. These laws were expressed in written form and delivered directly to Moses on Mount Sinai. They are called The Ten Commandments, and are the foundation stones for human law. Uneducated people will argue scriptures about not eating shellfish and the like, not understanding the difference between law and ordinance, ceremonial Jewish law, and the effect of the Cross and Jesus' atonement. But our founders understood it, and built this nation and its liberties upon the Judeo-Christian foundation.
They knew that the first of the two tablets was off limits to government intrusion, and was the framework for the first amendment. But the second tablet of the Ten Commandments dealt with interpersonal relationships, and established the parameters for man-made laws and ordinances. We do not have the right to make any laws contrary to these universal parameters of right and wrong! Included are issues of marriage and family (both as God defines) as well as other commands that teach us not to lie, steal, or covet our neighbors wife or property.
Nestled in the midst of these is the clear command: THOU SHALT NOT MURDER. This is the accurate translation because murder is the taking of innocent life. This is the reason we all are angry, hurt, and bewildered today, because this law is written in our hearts by God, and it is our conscience that keeps us from crossing this line.
So now to the systemic issue that we are plagued with, and I fear we are only seeing the beginning of darkness. We have pushed God out of our nation and he is ebbing from public consciousness! Not only are we removing the internal law of conscience which brings moral restraint, but we are eroding the foundation of moral law itself -the second line of defense against a broken conscience. If there is no God, there is no universal law, and there is no eternal consequence!
Since 1947 when the initial errors of redefining the establishment clause began to shift at the Supreme Court level, the lie of secularism has slowly wrapped its fingers around our throats and is beginning to squeeze the life from us. Secularism and humanism are the big lies that are re-writing history, and removing the only true deterrent from our society falling apart. In 1962 we made a monumental move in the wrong direction by the process of outlawing prayer and Bible reading from schools, and we now have an entire generation indoctrinated in the glory of man with no mention of God. We are suffering the consequence of removing God from our culture, and consciences are getting seared to the point of animal instinct. We have proudly labeled Las Vegas “Sin City” and have now suffered the worst mass shooting in U.S. history there. We need God to deliver us from ourselves!
WHEN THE FORCES OF CONSCIENCE AND CONSEQUENCE ARE BROKEN DOWN, MEN PLUNGE INTO UNRESTRAINED EVIL!
This is the systemic issue that our founders warned us of, and we must turn back to the God who can save us from ourselves. If the government systematically silences the voice of the church from society, and interjects its own morality based upon the offense of others, we have already lost our liberty. Christianity does not seek to force belief in God, but we are duty bound to uphold the laws of the Creator who gave us our inalienable rights! It is the only form of government that actually protects everyone’s right to believe according to their conscience, however we must play by the rules or we lose the game.
So as we are all facing this unspeakable tragedy, may we also reconcile ourselves to the God who gave us this land of liberty. May we find ways to express our thoughts without destroying our foundation. May we honor our flag and stand for the ones who stood for our liberty while we find better ways to deal with the injustices we see or perceive. May we continue to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
May God cradle the hearts of those who have suffered such loss, and may we work together to bring healing and peace.
Doug Bankson is the Lead Pastor at the Victory Church World Outreach Center in Apopka and an Apopka City Commissioner.