The Nashville Christian School Shooting and a Pastor’s Heart

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Can you remember the first mass school shooting you heard about? The news was so shocking, it seemed to pierce our hearts, and it kidnapped our souls. This is something so depraved, so evil, it should never happen. How could anyone kill innocent children? Once again, my heart aches over this yet another senseless attack.

There was another recent school shooting. This one occurred at a private Christian school. It was not my intention to comment on this national calamity.  However, after seeing so much coverage, and reading so many articles on the school shooting at the Christian Covenant School in Nashville, TN, I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to say something.  If you have not heard this awful news, an adult transgender individual broke into a private Christian school and brutally murdered 3 adults and 3 children before being killed by police.

There are three points that need to be addressed surrounding this school shooting:

1. The first point is “This murderous rampage is about the killer’s heart, not the weapon.”

2.The second point is “We should NEVER romanticize the killer.”

3. Finally the last point is “We need more prayer, not less.”

Point number one is that this murderous rampage is about the killer’s heart, not the weapon. This transgender adult broke into a locked private school, and mercilessly killed 6 innocent people. I have no desire to wax political, but certain politicians will try to use this horrible event to brow beat everyone into giving up their guns. Guns were used in this mass murder. But it may be pointed out that in countries that have outlawed guns, there are still mass murders involving knives, bombs, vehicles, or other methods of killing. A gun is an inanimate object. It can be used for good, or evil. There is nothing inherently evil in a gun.

The Bible is very clear in its condemnation of murder. The ten commandments, given by God, says “Thou shalt not murder.” This killer had murder in their heart. They left many written documents talking about how they were misunderstood by Christian parents, and how they wouldn’t let them take on the gender of their choice. This person wanted to send a message. They wrote to their friend that they were going to do something big, where they would never come back. So really, this was a hate crime specifically against Christians, that was well thought out, and carefully planned.

This transgender individual chose a lifestyle contrary to what their parents wanted for them. Living a self-disciplined life is difficult today. Our society seems to put a premium on doing whatever feels good to the individual, and the idea of holiness, or living a Christian life, would be anathema to them. Living a holy life, is actually a spiritual discipline or tradition according to Richard J. Foster. This is something that can change our heart. Foster writes in Streams of Living Water: “Holiness is bodily spirituality. It affirms the goodness of the human body and seeks to bring it into working harmony with the spirit. It utilizes appropriate Spiritual Disciplines for training the body and mind in right living. It is in this sense, ascetical – but never for the sake of the asceticism always for the sake of the

training” (83).

When a person submits their heart and life to God, God will begin to change that person. He will soften their heart,and lead them to become more like Christ. A person who rebels against God will find their heart becoming harder and harder. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV) talks about how a person can have their conscience seared, like having a hot iron burn them. Scar tissue from a burn has all the nerves seared to the point where they no longer work. This passage says “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” In other words, a person whose heart is hardened against God will be capable of doing things they would otherwise see as inconceivable. This transgendered person lashed out violently against innocent people. Their conscience was seared. They used guns, but it could have just as easily been a bomb, a knife, or a vehicle. It was the heart of this killer that was instrumental in murdering these innocents.

The second point is, “we should NEVER romanticize the killer.” This seems like a strange thing to say at first glance. However, while this horrible school shooting was still fresh, and the details just coming out there were certain trans-activists who were blaming the Christian school (and Christians in general). They made the killer out as a misunderstood hero. They say the Christians who disagree with them and don’t accept their behavior are at fault. i.e. they brought this on themselves.  These trans-activists wrote that the murderer was so desperate they had no other choice but to kill these people in order to draw attention. I’ve got news for them, there are a lot of better ways to get attention than to commit murder and then suicide by cop. This transgendered person was the monster, not the victim.

Let me explain my point about romanticizing the murderer a little more. There were many tragic teenaged suicides in my twenty five years of serving as a chaplain in law enforcement. What made them even more tragic was when there were copycat suicides. The schools wanted to do right by the teenager who committed suicide, so they would make a big deal about them. They would bring up how tragic their death was. They might talk about how they were misunderstood or had a poet’s soul. They might plant a tree in their honor and hold special assemblies to memorialize them. The unfortunate result would be other teens who would want somehow to have the same kind of attention by taking their own lives in the same way. If we make this transgender killer out to be some kind of tragic hero, there will be others who desire the same kind of attention who will do similar acts of violence. We need to call this act what it was. This was a cowardly act by a violent person who hurt innocent, defenseless people. If we want to prevent future school shootings, we need to show the world this was an act of cowardice against powerless innocents, not a brave act of a desperate person. Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

The last point is, “we need more prayer, not less.” There have many bold (or should I call them arrogant) reporters and politicians who try to shame and silence Christians. They say they don’t want any more prayers without action. They say our prayers are useless. My first thought when I hear this is “How much worse would things have been if not for our prayers.”

Prayer is central to the life of the Christian. Richard J. Foster wrote about the Christians prayer life in his book, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer. He quoted Mother Teresa saying, “Before she died Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘pray for me that I not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor” (64).  Action is important. But knee-jerk reaction is not the answer. We can act and make things worse by taking the wrong action. Outlawing guns because a gun was used, would be like outlawing cars because a drunk caused a fatal crash. We need to address the heart of the matter.

Unbelievers think that prayer is ineffectual and doesn’t do anything. They don’t believe in the power of prayer. But the Bible is very clear on the power of prayer. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Prayer connects us to the power of God. Those who are not Christians may never understand why we choose to pray. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) reminds us, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

        We can react the same way we have always reacted to school shootings. We can argue over gun control laws; we can talk with some kind of reverence about the murderers; and we can further isolate and push against Christians. But this has not worked so far.

We have pushed God out of the conversation in the United States. We have outlawed prayer in schools; we have outlawed the ten commandments; and we have embraced the religion of secular humanism. We have pushed back on the idea that we were created in the Image of God and therefore have human dignity. We have pushed back on the teaching of the Ten Commandments including the command against murder. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) tells us clearly, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

There are some alternatives we can take that can make a difference:

1. We can talk about what made the heart of the murderer so black that they could do such horrible things and how do we prevent it happening again.

2.  We can point out the cowardice in school shooters picking soft targets that couldn’t defend themselves. There is nothing noble or heroic about them.

3. We can bring God back into the conversation and seek his intervention.

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