The cover of the Boston Glob (note: I originally meant to type “Globe” but then realized that my typo is oddly appropriate, so I’m leaving it) today features a big, scary gun and the words “Make It Stop.” The paper calls for a ban on “assault weapons” in order to “stop gun violence.” The left is hailing this as “courageous,” as if it takes courage to engage in meaningless and popular platitudes.
The Glob’s stand is not brave and it’s not unprecedented. It is merely echoing the sentiments of many people in our culture. We need to stop bad things, they say, and the way to do this is to pass another set of laws. It’s explained that we will place these laws on top of the 1,000 layers of pre-existing laws, and finally this last layer will be the thing that “makes it stop.”
Of course, this country’s original law – the Constitution – is contradicted and ultimately erased by many of the laws on top of it. This is by design. The left views the law as the problem, and in order to rectify it they pass additional laws. But, you’ll notice, they never attempt to officially amend or abolish the original laws. They just create laws to compete with the ones they don’t like, and then leave it up to the judges to side with whichever law they personally prefer. This is how the left plans to “make it stop.”
I’d like to go beyond the particulars of the gun control debate and deal with this idea that laws – or any other human effort – can make evil stop. It’s a silly and immature notion, but it’s also quite common, and I believe it does come from a sincere place in the human soul.
Indeed, we all want to “make it stop.” We all recognize that evil should not be happening, and we simply cannot bear, and refuse to accept, that it will continue right along no matter what we do. Although we all see that the world can be an ugly and brutal place, we still have this odd and fanciful notion that the ugliness is an aberration and the brutality doesn’t belong. Even though there seems to be far less goodness than there is badness, it seems we instinctively recognize the badness as a mutation, and the goodness as the way things ought to be.
Anyone looking at things purely scientifically and objectively could not possibly reach these conclusions. Based on all available evidence, we should not even attempt to “make it stop” because “it” appears to be the primary function of the universe. A look at current events or a study of any point in human history reveals that bad men are always doing bad things. And they do them so often and so consistently that it doesn’t even make sense to call it bad. It seems we should call it natural. Trying to take all of the violence and hatred out of the world is like trying to take all of the water out of the ocean. Not only is it impossible, but even if you succeeded, it wouldn’t be the ocean anymore.
That’s how it would seem, anyway, if you’re approaching this from a secular and materialistic perspective. But hardly anyone will admit that world is naturally and fundamentally and intrinsically bad. It’s interesting that even secularists and materialists do not approach this question from a secular and materialistic point of view. Everyone still sees evil as a usurper, an unwelcome guest; something that can, and ought to be, destroyed.
And we’re right. Evil is a parasite that has attached itself to the world. The world was not built to house evil. People were not created for the purpose of doing evil. The world was assembled for goodness and beauty, and so were we. We have had to contort and pervert ourselves to accommodate badness. That’s why there is no harmony with evil. Evils cannot even reach compromises and agreements among themselves. They’re constantly warring with each other and fighting over the same stolen land.
Evil was never meant to be here. The world was never meant to be used like this. We were never meant to do the awful things we do. The world was never meant to be the awful place it is. The world is like a great structure designed to be a cathedral but converted almost immediately into a whore house.
The trouble is that once you allow the evil into the world – once you open the door to it and say, “Please, come in” – you cannot so easily expel it. Once you have the cancer, you cannot suddenly demand that it leaves. You need a doctor for that, and even when you go to the doctor, you have to accept that the process of destroying the disease will be long, painful, and costly.
The question becomes: Who is the doctor? Many people in our culture think the government can play that role. Or sometimes they think actual doctors can be the doctors. They turn every act of evil into a medical or psychological condition and expect the “medical community” to come up with the solution. But doctors and politicians do not have the cure. They are just as sick as you, maybe even sicker. We have to keep looking.
The fact that we are looking at all should, in itself, tell us that there is, somewhere, something to find. As C.S. Lewis wrote, if we have a desire for something, it means there must be an object. There must be a way to satiate it. We cannot desire things that do not exist. So hunger is evidence that food exists. Thirst is evidence that water exists. And, I would say, our desire for a great doctor, a force that can come and solve evil, is evidence that such a force exists.
His name is God.
We are made by God and for Him. We were made to love, to hope, to give. We were not made to hate, to envy, to lie, to destroy. These are unnatural acts. The more we do them, and the more everyone else does them, the less the world can function. It’s like trying to fuel your Jeep with urine. It was not made to run on human secretions just as the world was not made to run on sin. And it can’t. It just stands stands still and rusts gradually away.
We were made to live in a beautiful and loving world, and then finally to be reunited with Him in an even more beautiful and loving one. But there is no love without freedom. There is no love that is not chosen. Love cannot be compelled, not even by God.
God did not stage some giant puppet show for Himself. He did not build robots or computer systems. He built powerful and sentient creatures and gave us the ability to choose right or wrong, virtue or sin, good or evil. He made us to go in a particular direction, but because he wanted us to love, he also gave us the ability to go another way. Humanity very often chooses the latter. And that’s where all the trouble arises.
The good news is that God did not just build the world and then retire to his room to take a nap for several thousand years. He is still here, trying to help us get back on the path He paved for us. If He were the sort of God who gives up and says, “To hell with you ungrateful brats,” He would have walked away after the whole debacle with Adam and Eve. And who could have blamed Him? But God so desperately wants us to come home to Him that He went to Earth Himself and willingly paid the price for our sins. And He remains with us now, trying every moment to guide us in.
Remember, the father in the Prodigal Son parable did not stand at his door and wave to his son as the young man walked up the pathway. He ran down to him. He met him on the road. He embraced him, and forgave him, and said, “Let’s go inside and celebrate.”
That’s where we belong. At home with Him. We were made for joy. We were not made to live amid these horrors. Even less were we made to contribute to the horrors ourselves. So the solution – the solution that we all desire, whether we recognize it or not – is to drag our sick bodies back to God and give ourselves over to His healing and His mercy.
Want to make it stop? You can’t. Neither can the government. Neither can anyone here on Earth. Only God has the cure, but we must accept it, and we must follow the prescriptions he gives us, even if they’re painful and difficult. We have to focus first on stopping the evil within ourselves. I cannot hope to help treat the epidemic if the disease is already inside me and wreaking havoc on my body. I have to go to the doctor, go to God, and ask Him to put me on the road to recovery.
And then, finally, at a time unknown to everyone, the Lord will come and make all the evil stop. He will cure the whole outbreak all at once. He will snuff it out at the source. The final battle will be waged, and evil will die its final death. Until that moment, there will be evil. After it, there will be none. It will all be over. Everything will be restored to its original design. The whores will be driven out of the cathedral, and only beauty and holiness will remain.
There will be no more time for choosing between good and evil at that point. We are the whores in the cathedral – if that wasn’t clear from my analogy – and when God shows up at the entrance and starts clearing out the riffraff, it will be no use to say then, “Oh, actually I changed my mind.” Our choice will already be made, and we will have to live or die with it.
He will make it stop all right. We better just make sure we are not among the ones He stops.
So, in the mean time, if we want at least to fight the evil – not to “stop” it entirely, but to struggle against it – and if we want to protect ourselves and our families from it, then we should follow Him. We should pray relentlessly. We should go to church. We should read the Scripture. We should follow the prescriptions the doctor gives us. We should live healthy spiritual lives, so that we can be sure that we are more a part of the solution than the problem. We should be people of faith, courage, and hope. We should stick close to God.
And, on a practical level, it probably wouldn’t hurt to buy a gun.
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