Thoughts on Evil and why Millennials Are Taking Innocent Lives

I have no children… Not yet at least. I am, however, someone that loves my family, my friends, and all people dearly. I’m what most would call a “people person.”

So, like you, I’m left thinking about and wrestling through what happened Friday in Newtown Connecticut. With many more questions than answers, I thought I’d write about what I’m thinking… About what I’m feeling.

The truth is, I’m writing this post more for me than any of you. I do, though, think you’ll find it helpful in processing what the images, news broadcasts, and stories we’ve all heard over the last few days.

Why does something like this happen?

Why, in a world that is created by and impacted by a loving God, does evil like this happen? We’re always left with those questions after any horrific event or natural disaster.

The simple answer? We live in a fallen world. Since Adam and Eve, evil has existed. While God didn’t create the evil, he’s gracious and gives us all choice. Evil is really necessary because it allows us to choose… To choose right and wrong… To choose love… To choose God. Evil is real and can sometimes seem more powerful than love…

It isn’t.

But, when allowed to rule, evil can do ugly, ugly things… Horrific things. Evil displays itself in many ways and, whether we like it or not, a very real Enemy to God and to good does exist and operate.

Why are millennials often the predator?

Someone asked me why it seems like young people (people in their 20’s) seem to be the ones that are inflicting the evil in these tragedies like the one we all felt on Friday. My first inclination was that I thought age had little do with it, that evil people come in all ages. After thinking about it, though, I think there is something to the fact that our younger people are acting out in violence.

Some would blame the evil on violent video games that today’s generation has been raised on or the movies we’ve grown up watching. I think that has very minimal effect.

The reason many millennials are acting out in violence? They feel the need to belong.

The millennial generation has a deep desire to belong to something. That’s why millennials are willing to volunteer and participate in causes. Study after study proves that todays 20 somethings are a community driven generation. That’s why social media has risen to such heights in the generation. When not properly directed, though, this need for belonging can be played out in harmful and evil ways… In tragic ways.

Now, don’t misunderstand, I know that there is a lot more at work here in why someone would walk into an elementary school and kill almost 30 people, but I think failing to belong can explain some of it.

Church, we have an opportunity every week, every day to help them belong. We have the ultimate ‘belonging’ message. We MUST share it. We must live it with intensity and boldness. We must rise up for a generation and a people.

What do we do now?

We certainly don’t have to have all the answers.
We certainly don’t.

We don’t have to make it go away.
We certainly can’t.

We do what we can do…

Just because we can’t do everything, doesn’t mean we don’t do anything…

We can pray for the families in this tragedy.
We can pray for our country.
We can pray for our country’s leaders.
We can love our kids.
We can love our neighbors.
We can reach out to hurting people.
We can offer a hand rather than turning our back.
We can offer hope.

We can offer love.

14 Comments

  1. Yes Jonathan. May I add to your list….?
    – We can weep.
    – Weep over the effects sin has on this world, on our loved ones, on our neighbors, on those caught in its grip, and on us.
    – Weep with those who weep without any obligation to use words.
    – Weep with God … giving him time and permission to lay his heart over ours – to feel the pulse of his heartbeat – and greive those things that are broken in this wonderful world he created…knowing that his heart grieves even more so.
    – And finally…let us ask God his grace and boldness to engage our culture with a resolute commitment to do whatever Jesus asks of us …in the act of giving Gods love away in the places where we live and move and have our being- wherever that is…and may we do so freely…generously….hopefully…
    carefully…gently…kindly…and more. genuinely.

    Perhaps this is what the Christams phrase ‘prepare HiM room’ is all about.

    May we be more faithful to make more room for the love of Christ to fill us so that we have more of his love in us to give away to more of those in need …of The One who came to seek and save that which was lost and broken by the effects of sin…yes Jonathan…cause us to BELONG!

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  2. Bill

    Well said Jonathan, thanks for your wisdom and words of comfort. The Millenial issue is perplexing, no simple answers, but certainly the hope of the Gospel must be applied.

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  3. I think a part of it too is how isolated we are becoming as a society. There just doesn’t seem to be that connection with other people there that used to be. How many people know their neighbours other than to just say hi to them?

    In an increasingly urban society, that’s becoming less and less common. And I think that goes along with what you’re saying about the need to belong.

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  4. Jonathan, this is so well said. Unfortunately, so few people are willing to see evil for what it is. Rather, it gets labeled “mentally ill” or something less threatening. Granted, mental issues can play a role, but we have to recognize the enemy wants to inflict pain and suffering in this world.

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  5. I needed to read this tonight – thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am always telling people to focus on what they can do, and not on what they can’t change. I need to take some of my own advice – great list of what we can do to get me going. I was really struggling with the why of what happened on Friday…but I know that somehow we have to find a way to praise God in the midst of it.

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  6. Belonging….I think you have something there. We see more broken homes, too many single moms & dads raising kids. Kids left alone because the parent works, sometimes 2 jobs. We were to be a family unit. So many scars. Not anything like the way I was raised. Both my parents were there and I never came home from school to a empty house. Mom was always there. I knew my neighbors and could knock on any of their doors if I needed help. It was a different time. I’m a step-mom and can see what a broken home has done to these kids who now are in their 20’s & 30’s. None of them are married, and two have kids. One has a child who was so unruly and lashed out all the time, but has now calmed down somewhat…what does his future hold…I wonder.

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  7. I do agree that the need to belong is a big problem, and I don’t have a problem with the fact that he might have been mentally unhealthy in some way.

    However, I also think that a big part of what’s going on is the tremendous lack of parenting among many the Millennials and younger…

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  8. Josh Gadsby

    Evil begets more evil. Especially when veiled in deception, playing on man’s sinful nature.
    There have been some good points. I disagree that minimizing the amount and typed of media our kids are bombarded with has little affect. I have four daughters. The older two can disapeer physically and mentally if left unchecked.
    Studies have repeatedly shown the relationship between extended use of social media and severe depression.
    The machine offers no real interaction, no relational response. Images and text box’s are void and such, can suck the life out of the user.
    I agree that the millenials desire the connectivity and interaction of meaningful relationships and experience. This also poses a potential for pitfall. Since man is not neutrally minded and veers toward sin nature, without a regenerate heart, loving accountability, that need and desire easily draws our kids into a world of pain, of hurt and depravity we are helpless to rescue them from. Only a place that God’s sovereinty rules.
    I am a parent of this child. Where Cutting, Depression, Anorexia, Denial and Deception have all become ingrained in her DNA. Where real meaningful social experiences have not become easier but more difficult. Where endless resources are used to provide therapy, outlets, resolutions and other avenues. All met with a saddening realization that I do not choose, it is not my will in play.
    The Escapism of a digital world is robbing the sould of our society one “bit” at a time. What seemed to be a good reward turned into the cocaine of the 80’s and heroin of the 90’s.
    This was not the culpret all alone, just the cumulation of crushing blows unseen by our daughter and us as parents.
    Be intentional with your kids. Encourage real peer to peer relationships. This is a missional model seen throughout the Bible.
    Be involved with digital use and duration. It matters. More than you know. Model that digital use for them. Give them a good example to follow rather than denying use.
    I want to address “other” media. Specifically violence in movies and games.
    Repeated exposure to violence in any form desensitizes the brain. Prolonged exposure rewires the brains understanding and function in relation to an already biased moral compass. This is exactly the identical occurrence with pornography in terms of desensitizing and rewiring of the brain. For both men and women.
    Hollywood and big media have pressed this into our lives slowly, now having a firm foothold with sex and violence.
    While hypocritically taking postures against exactly what they are selling and profiting from!
    Satan only needs to continue with subtlety, playing on our proclivity for self and sin.
    There is no more time for compacency brothers and sisters. Our faith and stance should be bold.
    Bold in love, in understanding, in knowledge of our faith, ready to make a defense of that faith.
    Bold in rearing our children, in mentoring our youth, being accountable to each other; willingly.
    These are impossible problems in a fallen and dying world. Although death is certain, how we live and walk in our faith make the differance.
    So others may live,
    In Christ,
    JG

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