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Our world is awash in violence. Consider the California man dressed as Santa and accused of a murderous shooting spree. Police report that he began by shooting an innocent eight-year-old girl in the face and then shot at least nine people before killing himself (CNN.com, December 25, 2008).
The FBI reported more than 1,408,000 violent crimes in the United States in 2007. This number included more than 855,800 aggravated assaults, nearly 17,000 murders, and more than 90,400 forcible rapes (US DOJ, "Crime in the United States").
But the US is not the most violent nation. "The Caribbean region suffers from the world's highest murder rates, some 30 per 100,000 annually" (UN Office on Drugs and Crime Annual Report, 2008). When overall violence is measured, The Economic Times reports that "Central and South America are the most devastated by armed violence, where killings outside war zones are four times over the world average" (September 11, 2008). Other nations such as South Africa, Russia, Iraq, Brazil, Lithuania, Pakistan, Mexico and Venezuela all report more murder per capita than the U.S. (Wikipedia, "List of countries by intentional homicide rate").
Of course, violence is nothing new. From the spectacles of gladiator matches and gruesome public executions at the Roman Coliseum, to the even more ancient biblical record of the earth being "filled with violence" in Noah's time before the flood, humanity has always lusted for violence. But, sadly, many who profess to be Christians share in this fascination.
Christians must not be murderers. But further, if we claim that "Christ lives in" us (Galatians 2:20), then we must also seriously consider the ramifications of our entertaining violent thoughts.
Violent movies, computer games, books or music immerse our minds in images and sounds of death and hatred. If we choose to meditate on these images, then how are we bringing our "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5)?
If our leisure is spent watching, reading about, or "playing" fighting, war or murder, then are we focused on "turning the other cheek"? If our pleasure is to dwell on bloodshed or violence, if we want to "get inside the mind of the killer" as one popular television show promotes, then are we aligning our minds with God, or with Satan who was a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44)?
No Christian can deny the Bible's condemnation of hatred, which is the spirit of murder. Those who immerse themselves in media violence are being flooded with that ungodly spirit.
Some will attempt to justify violent entertainment as simply an enjoyable pastime. Do they consider the sobering warning of Isaiah 33:15, where God describes the person He will protect in times of danger: "He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil."
God certainly recorded in His word examples of violence and death from this present age of Satan's power and influence among men. But notice that He does not give us slow-motion, high-resolution, violent details. Instead, notice as an example the fearfully blunt but simple statement in 2 Kings 19:35 where God delivered Jerusalem from the massive Assyrian army: "And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses – all dead."
Christians are admonished to grow to become more like Christ. This takes work. And, shunning violent entertainment is a major step toward that goal. Reading What Is a True Christian? will provide much more detail on this broad subject.
There is nothing good in taking pleasure in violence or being entertained by violence. A critically wounded little eight-year-old California girl is sad testament to that.
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