Young Adult Blog

Tragedy in Newtown: Who’s Really to Blame?

Tragedy in Newtown: Who's Really to Blame? (illustrated by crying, grief-striken woman)After the brutal mass murder of 20 first graders and eight adults in Newtown, Connecticut, everyone wonders, Why? Who is really to blame?

The tragic school shooting last Friday, Dec. 14, in Newtown, Connecticut, was the latest in a long history of violent tragedies to befall America. But there’s something different about this particularly atrocious act of violence.

People around the nation sense something is terribly amiss in the country. The fact that someone could wantonly and systematically target the most innocent in our society, little children, appears to be not only insane but, quite frankly, inhuman.

Inhuman

The aftermath of these types of events usually plays out in a certain order in our news media. There is the initial shock and horror at the ghastly details and graphic images. Following this is the massive outpouring of sympathy for the families of the victims. This is usually followed by trying to recreate the events of the days leading up to the tragedy, while trying to psychoanalyze the perpetrator. Then various experts try to assign blame for the heinous act.

The word inhuman may be used to describe the act itself, but our media and society in general rarely give any thought to the fact that there is a truly inhuman being behind all this. In this irreligious time, the name Satan is avoided for fear of appearing unscientific at best and extremely superstitious at worst.

Satan is real!

One thing I’ve found quite astonishing is the number of Christian sects that don’t take the Bible’s revelation about the existence of Satan at face value. As large portions of the Bible are being treated as of no value even by the religious in our society, its teachings on Satan also seem to be largely disregarded as mythology.

But not only do various Old Testament passages claim Satan is real, the very words of Jesus warn His followers about Satan and explain that Satan is the ultimate influence behind all of man’s violence and tragedies.

Notice what Christ had to say about this very real spirit personality’s aim for the disciple Peter:

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31, emphasis added throughout).

Christ was conveying to Peter that a very real being had asked for permission to test him in every way. Other passages bear out the fact that Satan wants to get all of us to fail.

The book of Job contains a description of Satan’s direct involvement in the tragic affairs of humankind. The first few chapters show us that, although God has dominion over Satan, the devil has been given current dominion over this world’s daily activities. And his goal is to wreak havoc upon havoc (Job 1:11-2:7) in our personal lives, as well as this world’s international affairs.

Satan has a taste for afflicting the righteous and innocent

As we can see in the account of Job, Satan particularly desires those whom God considers righteous. Notice in the book of Revelation where John is given a glimpse into the future of Satan’s continual assault on the innocent and righteous people of God:

“Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. … And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:12, 17).

Satan’s war against humanity (particularly the innocent, young and helpless) has become extremely gruesome. Warfare and conflicts around the world are notorious for claiming the lives and maiming civilians, both young and old.

God will end this assault and rightfully assign blame

The Scriptures can clear things up for us and show us who is ultimately behind the senseless acts of assorted violence woven deeply into the fabric of our society. The Bible also gives us understanding of how Satan is able to use human beings to do his bidding through “random” acts of violence (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Ephesians 2:2-3).

Most importantly, it is the Bible that gives us the precious hope that this senselessness displayed in evil acts around the world will come to an abrupt halt in the very near future:

“He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:2).

Later in the chapter we see that Satan’s banishment will be made permanent (verse 10). Finally God’s holy reign will take full effect:

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

These hopeful and inspiring passages round out the pages of the Bible, but they are not isolated verses. These scriptures are backed up by earlier passages such as Isaiah 25:8—“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces”—and 1 Corinthians 15:25-26—“For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”

We can be reassured that God is just and true to His word. He will avenge the innocent and show all who is really to blame.

In the midst of mourning the young and tender lives lost in this most recent hideous and unthinkable act, let us take comfort in these scriptures of hope and salvation.

The Bible answers many important related questions. See “Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?” “God vs. Satan” and “What Is the Meaning of Life?”

Peter M. Gabriel is a member of the Houston North congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He is married and is the coordinator of the local congregation’s newsletter.

For related blog posts about the tragedy in Newtown, see: