How Romans Chapter 7 provides choices in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
Horror of gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School
The mood of the country after the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings calls to mind Paul's comments about the law in Romans chapter 7. There is no doubt that the easy to acquire, and access of weapons in this country is unmatched anywhere in the developed world. We might add too that the level of mental illnesses is equally disproportionate.
Those two factors are potentially dangerous in any society. Add to that the culture that glamorizes violence – in movies, video games (and real games, like football), in the media, language and vocabulary - and the mix is inflammable. What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School could happen anywhere.
As we wrestle with the reality of the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School the question we must ask ourselves is; How is the law going to be helpful in addressing the underlying brokenness in our society? Indeed the number of weapons out there is astonishing. The media is actually reporting increasing gun sales right now, in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Yes, there ought to be laws to regulate acquisition and possession of weapons. Some have argued that there are many laws already, but laws are passed in response to a demanding situation, like the endless rampage in public places.
Yet this is a country that boasts of the rule of law and the size of the legal profession in the United States manifests the legalism of this society.
In chapter 7 of his Letter to the Romans, Paul points out that the law is good. There is nothing wrong with it. Indeed, the law is like a mirror which shows us the dirt on our face. The problem is that the mirror cannot remove the dirt. The more we stare into the mirror, the more dirt we discover but the mirror is powerless to remove it.
The brokenness and illusions in our culture cannot be repaired by laws. Laws will produce more criminals just as Paul demonstrates that sin is aroused by the law.
Think of the Prohibition which was enacted in response to alcoholism and the problems associated with it. Instead of combating alcoholism, Prohibition corrupted the legal profession and created criminals and gangsters like Al Capone. In contrast, look at Alcoholics Anonymous and how much it has helped heal shattered lives which the law and prisons could not rebuild.
There are four things we need to prioritize as a society
1. Let us look at the whole culture and come up with ways to eliminate the promotion of violence.
2 Let us address the issue of mental illness, from its causes to care and treatment of the sick
3. Let us find ways to inculcate into the minds and lives of the youth to value life and to build rather than destroy.
4. Together as society, let us find ways of promoting peace and peaceful ways of resolving our differences, frustrations and disagreements, as individuals and nations.