As the country stirs in the wake of the Arizona shooting rampage, where Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and injured thirteen, to include U.S. REP. Gabrielle Giffords, I am left with more then a few thoughts to contemplate. First, please allow me to say that I think what happened in Arizona is reprehensible. Many are asking “What could make someone do such a thing?” and quick to chime in is psychologist and sociologist alike; both with proclamations of Loughner’s environment as a conditioning factor to this horrid act. However, I am not so naive to believe that this action had anything with an oppressive child rearing or the like. Rather, this was the product of SIN and an individual who loves his sinfulness and hates the only true God YAHWEH. With that said, Loughner is not the individual that I would like to speak of in this article. Rather, I would like to speak of Gabby Giffords, who is a victim of the very worldview that she supports.
Running rampant in this country is the idea that there is no absolute and ultimate standard of righteousness; a by-product of a nation that has forgotten God. Rather then the absolute standard of righteousness as found in the Bible, an immutable Law that is the reflection of the character of God, modern America has chosen a different route; the route of autonomy and moral relativism. Spending a great deal of hours per week engaged in apologetic endeavors, I have seen first hand how this attitude has affected the culture. However, one need not be an apologist to have witnessed such an attitude, as is evident by a simple ten minute block on the nightly news. In these days, sinful man wishes to play the role of God and that attitude is seen at every turn of his life. As C.S. Lewis so rightfully stated;
“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock.…The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the bench and God in the dock.”1
Such is the case with the modern American and so it has been with Gabby Giffords. Such a cold “seeming” statement is made because of the political positions that Giffords has upheld over the years of her governmental service. One look at Giffords positional perspective on issues of ethics relays to the reader that Giffords herself upheld not a Biblical worldview based off of the revelation and law of God; but rather, an autonomous worldview based on her moral relativism and subjective opinion. Notice the text below which is a summation of Giffords ethical positions on the issue of abortion and human life;
• Abortions should always be legally available. (Nov 2000)
• Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Jan 2007)
• Provide emergency contraception at military facilities. (Apr 2007)
• Ensure access to and funding for contraception. (Feb 2007)
• Focus on preventing pregnancy, plus emergency contraception. (Jan 2009)
• Endorsed by EMILY’s list for pro-choice Democratic women. (Sep 2010)2
Taking into account Giffords view on abortion as seen above, one may rightfully ask on what absolute basis was Loughner wrong regarding his actions? Why should Giffords, given her worldview, be provided with an exemption against violence and murder? Why should she be granted something that she was not willing to grant to unborn children? Why should a person who has voted to allow the murder of innocent persons (innocent per the law of the land), not be the subject of murder herself, given someone else’s opinion on the matter? The point is this; if a person is willing to adopt an ethical position that is devoid of the Triune God of the Bible, devoid of ethical absolutes and devoid of the image that all persons are made in (the image of God – Gen. 1:26), then there really is no basis to call what Loughner did, EVIL. A person could rightfully proclaim that in their subjective opinion, what Loughner did was wrong, but there is no objective appeal. By what objective standard was Lounghner wrong?
In the culture surrounding us, the evolutionary mind set is drilled into middle school, high school and college student alike. Within this worldview, man is said to be a non-unique, random, chance bag of proto-plasm that has no inherent worth or purpose. “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (Prov. 26:4) – of course, we know as Christians that this is not true because we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) in the image of God. “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 26:5) – however, if this is not the case and if we are not made in the image of God…if there is no Heaven above and Hell below…if there is no moral law from God that is invariant and a reflection of His character, then what Loughner did was not wrong, evil or the like. Rather, what Loughner did was simply the spreading proto-plasm. What Loughner did was “right for him” even though it may not have been “right for them” the victims. Different strokes for different folks, right? After all, we only go around once and a person must live for all of the gusto. So what if an action like this happened if we live in a morally relativistic society? Why should it matter that Loughner gained his pleasure in the pain he inflicted on others? What is the standard that he was to follow; the ultimate standard that can describe what is right/wrong, good/evil? Where in a morally relativistic society is the “ought” derived from? Now, I grant that society can offer a “will” – why “will” I not shoot my neighbor (jail, fines, death penalty and so on). However, without the moral law giver of the Bible, there simply is no “ought” and no absolute standard to call something objectively wrong. Granted, there is always the appeal to society. However, society is nothing more then the collective sum of subjective opinions. Hence, a majority vote by society cannot offer the objective standard that one would need to call Lounghner’s actions evil or wrong. He (Lounghner) was simply against the societal norm.
Finally, let me close by saying that what happened in Arizona was indeed evil and sad. However, I can proclaim such a thing because I have an absolute and universal standard by which to judge such actions. That standard is the immutable Law of God; a standard that is the reflection of His perfect, holy and immutable character. The question has been asked over and over again in this article; “By What Standard”? The Answer: by the only objective and absolute standard that exists…the immutable Law of God which is found in the Bible. We as a Christian community should pray for REP. Giffords for her full recovery. Likewise, let us pray for the other victims of a tragedy such as this. May the Lord, according to His perfect will, bring souls into His Kingdom by this act of violence. However, let us not forget that this is the world that is fostered by those who reject the Law of God (as did we prior to our gift of faith). Like Eve in the Garden, REP. Giffords and others have decided to choose for themselves what is good and what is evil…and so did Lounghner.
“The atheist can appeal to nothing absolute, nothing objectively true for all people, it is just mere opinion enforced by might. The Christian appeals to a standard outside himself/herself in which truth and qualitative values can be made sense of.” – Peter Huff
1C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. W. Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 244.