Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guilt by Parenting

     Some of the best discussions take place in our office.  The other day we began discussing the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado and what could have motivated someone to do such a deed.  I piped up that I hoped people would be praying for the parents of this young man who killed and wounded so many.  I also added that I felt empathy for them as this had to be a terrible time in their lives.  Immediately, someone spoke up and said that they didn't feel sorry for these parents.  The reply continued, "Surely they must have known something was wrong with their son, and they could have intervened sooner.  After all, the mother told police they had the right man."
     Later, on the news that night, it was clarified that the mother of this man was merely identifying her son for police.  She was not making a statement about his guilt or innocence.  How easy it is for us to grab onto information and make a quick judgment about others without knowing the full story.  Certainly, no one knows the motives behind this evil attack, and probably, least of all, the parents of this young man.
     How quickly do we jump in and condemn parents for the misdeeds of their children?  Yet the Bible tells us that we are not to judge others:  "Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you used it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:1-2).  In the heat of the moment after a horrendous crime, the first thing we hear is that the parents must have known that something was wrong.  Of course, no one knows that but the parents themselves.  However, even if they did know that something wasn't quite right, what could they do?  The child was an adult and had left home.  
     Most parents pour their efforts into raising good citizens.  No one plans to raise a mass murderer or even a serial killer.  Think of their horror, their shock, their heartbreak when the child they raised and loved did such a terrible deed.  For the rest of their lives they will ask why or query themselves as to what they could have done differently.  This is why they need prayer.
     By all appearances, the young man who killed so many was a high achiever and no one could point out anything which gave a clue to his intent.  Some people are like an enigma.  Look at Ted Bundy.  He was accomplished as a student, good looking and worked in a crisis center next to an ex-cop (Ann Rule).  She had no clue about Bundy's crimes.  In fact, she thought he was a great crisis counselor on the phone helping people.  They worked side by side and she never knew till later.
     On the other hand, think of all the individuals that come from troubled homes or a past of abuse and still grow up to be good citizens.  This is why I contend that it is wrong to blame parents for every failing a child may have.  Instead, we should once again  turn to God's Word for the answer as to why someone so young, so intelligent, with a bright future ahead would kill and injure others.  
     In the book of James, he writes:  "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death" (James 1:13-15).  This is the reason behind terrorist attacks, murders, torture and all manner of evil.  It is the sin nature.  Unless or until, each of us is drawn by God through regeneration so that we can respond to the call of Jesus Christ, we are dead in our sins and capable of  breaking all of God's commandments.  This is a terrible realization isn't it?  Along with Paul I say "but thanks be to God who leads us to victory through Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 15:57).  Without His sacrifice on our behalf, we would still be in bondage to sin which leads to death both physically and spiritually.  Therefore, who are we to judge?  He has given us such grace, and we are to extend that grace to others.
     Our justice system is working to sort out all the details in this case, but as they do, let us remember to pray not only for the victims and their families but also for the family of this young man.  Parents everywhere need our prayers because the job of raising children is not easy, predictable, or perfect.  We do our best and leave the rest in God's hands praying we have done a good job.  May we also remember that but for the grace of God we could have been like the young man that killed so many dreams.  The sin nature brings death but Christ brings life everlasting!  Selah!


Christina said...

First of all, thank you for the heads up on the broken link on my page. 2nd time I had to fix .... oyy!!!

Second of all, great article! I can think of a few parents who would be greatly encouraged to read what you've written. And you nailed it well -- the reason for all evil in the world is because of sin. And were it not for the restraining work of the Holy Spirit (something I've been thinking about all day and Lord willing will write on) we would all be subject to the consequences of man's depravity.

Your post also brought to mind Ezekiel 18:20 which says, "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." We will all stand before a Holy God one day and there will be no excuses.

Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful posts.

Barbara Thayer said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful verse. A lot of people look for reasons everywhere except in God's Word as to why evil takes place in our world. We all need to recognize that but for the grace of God any of us could fall. Good subject to write on Christina. I heard a message on Alistair Begg's site today which he gave after the Columbine shootings. It applies to the current situation. Again he pointed to the sin nature. Great message! Thanks for sharing my friend. I love the conversation.