Graham: In a society that craves violence, why the shock and awe?

REUTERS Balloons hang from the Sandy Hook Elementary School sign in Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 15, 2012. … Continued


Balloons hang from the Sandy Hook Elementary School sign in Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 15, 2012.

Amid the “most wonderful season of all” comes the tragic news of a deranged young man entering an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 27, including 20 children. Tragically, Christmas for these families will likely be the darkest of many dark hours to come. The days when parents could send their children off to school with confidence that they would be cared for and protected seem long gone.

Just this summer we watched a senseless shooting spree in a Colorado movie theatre take the lives of 12 people and injured another 59. The national premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” had Americans clamoring for tickets to be entertained by violent behavior. When tragedies like these occur, why do we respond with such shock and awe? Psychiatrist Keith Ablow said, “This kind of shock registers with people…because it seems like the unthinkable keeps moving into the sphere of our reality.”

The “unthinkable” first surfaced in mankind thousands of years ago when Cain killed his brother Abel out of mere jealousy and rivalry. God had warned Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door,” but Cain ignored God’s word and committed murder. God punished Cain for taking innocent life but the violent shedding of blood has continued for centuries. Why?


Members of the media interview neighbours near the secondary crime scene following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Sandy Hook, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Bible answers this question with certainty, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, the Bible gives clear testimony to just how evil the human race became. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord…was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).

Where do we go from here? We might start by looking at what we watch and listen to. For example, South Korean rapper sensation, Psy, who has gained worldwide acclaim by “singing” that Americans should be killed “slowly and painfully,” including, “daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers” was featured last weekend at “Christmas in Washington,” a charity concert attended by President Obama. Parents and children are feeding on entertainment that portrays violence whether through lewd television programs, violent movies, offensive music, vulgar video games and anything- goes Internet gaming sites.

Society craves violence as long as it comes in the form of entertainment. Our outlook changes when we become its victims. This is precisely why God did not stand by unconcerned. His love for mankind is so overwhelmingly powerful that His wrath against evil is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and the unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18). The Bible says that people suppress the truth through unrighteous behavior that begins in the mind.

During this Christmas season, we should turn our minds and hearts from wickedness and remember what God has done for the world He loves. He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Christmas Child to point us to the way of truth. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). His innocent blood was shed to cover our sinful hearts, and to those who will seek Him, He offers His abiding peace. He is the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The same God who gave the world His greatest gift, will also comfort the hearts of the grieving—in Newton, Conn., or anywhere else—for He understands grief. He became a curse for us so that His promise would be fulfilled through faith in Him (Galatians 3:13). This is the shocking awe, that God would send so great a message in the form of a child. Indeed, this is the message of Christmas.

View Photo Gallery: Shooter kills 27 people, including 20 children at elementary school, before killing himself.

Franklin Graham, a son of world-renowned preacher Billy Graham, is the president and CEO of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Related content from On Faith:

* Pace: Comfort the grieving

* Stanley: In tragedy we grieve; in God, we hope

* Thistlethwaite: God weeps: 27 children, staff killed in Conn. school shooting

* Md. pastors were searching for solutions even before mass shooting

* Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting shocks a nation

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  • Joel Hardman

    I have an alternate theory on why Cain killed Able: Cain was mad that the only women around were his relatives and didn’t know how to deal with his anger.

  • question1

    Whitewashed tombs come to mind.

  • Madtown

    Society craves violence as long as it comes in the form of entertainment.
    I wouldn’t normally agree with Franklin on a lot of things, but I do agree with a lot of what he’s written here.

  • tim_anderson44

    Palestinians: they love Jihad more than they love their children
    Americans: they love guns more than they love their children

  • arm320

    Well this guy fell in line quickly behind the NRA’s new straw man: VIOLENCE IN ENTERTAINMENT. Yeah, ok. Couldn’t possibly be the guns.

  • Cossackathon

    Go to bleep, you sanctimonious son of another sanctimonious bleep.

  • vzepijdu


  • chilly1

    Maybe violence didn’t just appear with man. The whole universe was created in violence. God of the Bible killed tens of thousands of people. However, each individual is born innocent. We learn violence through our society and this includes the entertainment industry as well as in church.

  • jonatron

    Violence in entertainment is NOT the same as violence in the real world. People may crave violent entertainment, but that does NOT mean they crave the death of themselves and other human beings. This is a simple, obvious distinction.

  • Madtown

    It’s a simple distinction for some people. For others, who may have some emotional issues, the distinction isn’t so clear. The saturation of violence in this society may also desensitize us to a degree, making it seem like a “normal” course of action.

  • Joel Hardman


    On the level of theorizing, what you say makes sense. I’d need to see some evidence that violence in entertainment leads to more violence before I accept it.

  • SDGeoff

    Coming from an alleged man of god who spouts ignorant, hurtful (at the very least) comments about people he hates, this is about the biggest load of self-righteousness one can expect.

  • WhittRak82

    Hog wash.

  • cdmcl3

    the ancient romans had their Circus Maximus–we today have about the same thing in “real life.”

    shame on us for being entertained by gratuitous violence!

  • stevetunley

    Idiots like Franklin Graham are the reason that religion, thankful, is on the win in the world. Anyone who actually believes the crackpot fairy tales he peddles should have their heads examined. Where is Christopher Hitchens when you need him most?

  • stevetunley

    “Required the judgement of death”? Like that whole Noah’s Flood thing? Drowning every living man, woman and child in creation? Innocent children? Sound familiar? That’s what a “loving God” does? Keep your idiotic fairy tales to yourself.

  • stevetunley

    Scott….you must be a real man to need an assault rifle to feel secure in your masculinity. Big tough guy. Probably own a pit bull too.

  • stevetunley

    win = wain in the above…..

  • cdmcl3


  • cdmcl3

    (yet actually, “religion” is evolving and waxing.)

  • cdmcl3

    (…in various, often conflicting/confounded ways.)

  • cdmcl3

    my–to suggest that gore isn’t cultural bankruptcy! what a bad joke, and such…begs the question at issue.

  • cdmcl3

    the good news is that at last Franklin understands that we should not think of bloody violence as entertainment. yet there should be far more common ground.

  • cdmcl3

    *at least

  • Skyline1

    As a child I got as far into the Bible as Abraham being willing to sacrafice his son, Isaac, and thought Christianity might be too violent for me. Add a God who punishes non-believers with an eternity of hell-fire and brimstone and I knew it was.

  • Joel Hardman

    I’m still not hearing any evidence that violent, fictional entertainment leads to more real life violence. This is a question that has been studied.

    cdmcl3, Your post is a textbook example of begging the question!

  • RnmnW

    Well, the military uses “first person shooter” games to de-sensitize recruits to shooting people in real life. They wouldn’t do it if it weren’t effective.

    Violent games, movies, etc. may not increase rates of violence, but I do think that they gradually make people more callous to witnessing others’ suffering and erode their feelings of guilt at causing suffering. That kind of personal effect, if widespread, becomes a cultural characteristic. I feel that it affects everyday life in subtle ways.

  • ckw

    I can not comprehend either logically or emotionally why we make such a big deal out of some wackos who go on a shooting spree. Yes it is very sad and I have empathy for what the families of the victims must go through. The mass media coverage only makes it more difficult for them, and it is not a national crisis. Then to rub salt in the wound of the national psyche we pretend passing laws for more gun restriction will somehow reduce the occurence of such incidents. It Won’t!

    On a more religious note, I wondered what an atheist parent tells the young sibling of one of the victims. I guess they say some crazy guy shot them, they are dead, and now they are worm food.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    They would probably say something along those lines, only they would couch it with a bit of empathy as well as the courage required to know that the only way to get through life is to understand the worst things about it. I suppose that you, on the other hand, would parade the great white lie in front of the children, assuring them that they will see their departed friends and siblings again in some theme park above the clouds. I also suppose that you fancy yourself a good candidate for heaven, so do most of the abjectly unpleasant and tactless people that I know.