The deadly shootings at the Atlanta massage parlors were horrifying. A 21-year-old man has been charged with eight counts of murder in connection with the March 16 attacks. It was the worst mass killing in the U.S. in almost two years.
Despite the fact that seven of the eight people who lost their lives were Asian, the shooter told police that the attacks were not racially motivated. He stated he “frequently visited those places [parlors] in the past” and claimed to have a “sexual addiction” problem. He also said he was striking back at sources of “temptation.”
A former roommate told Reuters the shooter spent months in a halfway house for sexual addictions and felt deep remorse and shame for his repeated sin.
It was also reported that the shooter had been re-baptized three years ago at a Baptist church he and his family have been a part of for many years.
In light of those confessions, in short order columnist David French wrote, “The shooter’s stated beliefs and deadly actions represented a hyper-violent and extreme manifestation of a toxic theology that long corrupted a slice of Evangelical Christianity.”
Several commentators began referring to the shooter’s actions as a display of “white Christian terrorism.”
Let’s be clear, The New Testament has some distinct instructions on dealing with temptation. One of those states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).”
Nowhere in Scripture are followers of Jesus taught to bring harm to those they perceive as being sources of temptation. Temptation is always quite personal. It’s between you and God.
The smears of Christianity we’re seeing are uncalled for – and seem to be growing. Some on the left are describing those who believe in biblical morality to be part of a judgmental “Purity Culture,” which they contend is dangerous to society at large.
The “Purity Culture” is also being blamed for opposition to abortion, standing in the way of the demands from the LGBTQ movement and opposing passage of the pending Equality Act in Congress.
And, that same so-called “Purity Culture” is being blamed for the tragic massage parlor deaths.
Given that we’ve just celebrated Easter, I’m reminded of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he was about to be arrested by Roman troops, one of his disciples, Peter, brashly pulled out a sword to defend Jesus. In the process he sliced off a man’s ear.
The Bible says Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Jesus then turned and compassionately healed the man’s ear.
As Christians, we’re not called to violence, but to witness people healed – inside and outside – via the almighty power of God.
Yes, Jesus was resurrected from the dead to bring healing to all – even those who oppose his will. And yes, there are distinct moral standards in the Bible, some of them quite challenging to uphold. Yet through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we are able “to do all things through Him who gives us strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Let us pray for those terribly impacted by tragedy in Atlanta. May all come to personally witness the power of God’s healing power.
As for purity, consider these lovely words from the Apostle Paul, a man who, prior to becoming a follower of Jesus, was an effective persecutor of Christians:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
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