A shooter says, All the Christians stand up.
Would you stand? Would I?
I’ve lived long enough to learn a few things about myself. One of them is that when I am under physical attack, I tend to freeze. I do really well if the situation requires moral courage. But physical courage, not so much.
I’ve had a couple of life-threatening experiences in my life where I was attacked from out of nowhere. Every single time, I froze.
So … would I stand if a shooter walked into a room in which I sat with other people and said, All the Christians stand up?
I honestly don’t know. I do know that this happened to real people yesterday in Oregon and a number of them did stand up. The gunman told them Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second. Then, he shot and killed them.
The irony in this is that he didn’t lie. These brave Christians went directly to God. They are martyrs, and their blood cries out from the ground the same as Abel’s, with the distinct difference that theirs is a cry of victory.
I cannot imagine what demon-possessed hatred inspires people to kill other human beings. But I do know that Christians are subjected to an extraordinary amount of hate speech and bashing in these United States. The internet is full of Christian-bashing, hate-mongering blogs and commentary. Even the mainstream media plays host to it.
How much did this constant drum beat of Christian bashing and hate speech directed against Christians feed into the way this particular shooter targeted Christians in yesterday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College? I don’t know.
But I do feel that the way he approached these people is reminiscent of some of the hate comments I’ve deleted from my blog at Patheos. It is also consistent with what happens when any group of people is consistently bashed and attacked the way Christians have been.
I don’t want to overload this line of thought by implying, even accidentally, that internet Christian bashing inspired this man’s attack on so many innocent people. I don’t know that. Furthermore, we are suffering a national epidemic of young men who go into various public places and shoot innocent people for no apparent reason at all.
These shootings are not usually motivated by either politics or rage at a specific group. There are exceptions, such as the shooting of the Amish girls a few years ago, and the Fort Hood shooting. But more often they appear to be the manifestation of something else.
What I see is a society that has become awfully good at raising up mass murderers. I think that our cultural disintegration, in particular the destruction of the family, has created an incubator for shooters like the one who killed people yesterday, and all the others of his type.
I also believe — and I know that people are going to laugh at me about this — that these killings are demonic, as are the constant attacks on Christians and Christianity. We are dealing with more than just bad people and a fractured society. We are dealing with what St. Paul called “powers and principalities.”
We are dealing with the darkness that hates the Light.
A shooter walked into a room and said, All the Christians stand up. He mocked those who stood, saying that they were going to see God. Then he murdered them. This shooter was channeling more than internet haters and his own sick rage.
I ask myself, would I stand up? I freeze in violent situations. I hope that if I’m ever faced with something like this, the answer would be yes. I hope that I would unfreeze long enough to stand up.
These young people are martyrs. The shooter who murdered them, even though he was mocking them, spoke truth. They are in the presence of God. He didn’t know it. He certainly didn’t intend it. But he gave them the gift of the heaven.