Reflections on Newtown: In Adam All Sin
Once again the American people, Christian and non-Christian alike find themselves rightly mourning a terrible tragedy while foolishly asking “How could this happen?” The left is at best hinting and at worst demanding further or complete gun control. The right is at best arguing to arm teachers and at worst insisting on better government tracking of the mentally ill. Everyone is looking for systemic sources and institutional solutions, because we don’t know who we are. We want to blame guns, drugs, video games, anything but the real cause—our darkened and evil hearts.
The gospel truth is that changing policies won’t change anything. We can’t educate, legislate, pontificate murder away, because when the lectures, the laws, the sermons end, there we are. We cannot wash it away, because under all the filth and grime is just us, filth and grime. Adam Lanza gunned down the principal, his mother, the little children, himself, every one of his victims because he hates God and His image bearer, man. Which is true of every man, outside the grace of God.
The bereavement over Adam Lanza’s sin makes perfect sense. The surprise over it does not. When we rightly affirm, “There but for the grace of God go I,” when we have enough self-awareness to know that there is no sin we are not perfectly capable of committing on our own, we are not merely saying “God keeps this from happening.” We are also affirming that the GRACE of God keeps this from happening. When we understand how wicked we are in ourselves we come to understand that each of us, indeed the little children who died, wake up each morning under a just death sentence from God most high. The surprising thing isn’t that so many were killed, but that any were spared. Because each of us, each and every one of us, is the kind of person that would kill strangers, our mothers, little school children. Those who are hoping Adam is burning in hell are right, he deserves it. As do we all.
We want to believe that Adam Lanza is a bizarre anomaly, his rampage a freak occurrence. But the truth is on the very day Adam took so many lives, there were in cities across the country three thousand mothers who did not race to their children fearing they were in danger, but instead took their children to an assassin. The next day three thousand more mothers, having heard the news from Newtown, carried their babies to town that they might be exterminated. And the rest of us, if we gave those three thousand murders a thought at all, never stopped to ask, “How could this happen?” It was just normal.
Which is just what it is, normal. We are child killers. We are murderers. We, each one of us, would if we could, climb up to heaven and kill God Himself. Since we can’t, however, our bloodlust is satisfied by snuffing out the lives of His littlest image bearers.
The answer is Jesus. We need Him not just so little children won’t be murdered, but so that we won’t be murderers of little children. In Adam, we are all murderers. In the Second Adam, we are made alive. May we be given the grace to tell the world as our Lord did before us—Repent, lest you likewise perish.