Christian Response To Tragedy Should Include Love

Paula Mooney - Author

Jun. 12 2016, Updated 9:04 p.m. ET

When Hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans in August 2005, causing widespread devastation, whispers in some Christian circles couldn’t help but mention the lifestyles of New Orleans residents and visitors as the potential cause of the tragedy. Mentions of witchcraft and black magic and loose living were bandied about among believers. In 2004, when the Indian Ocean earthquake struck off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, the same whispers about belief systems emerged. Now that the largest mass shooting has occurred in the U.S., it appeared those same Christian leanings were emerging once again, since the tragedy happened in a gay club.

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As reported by Newser, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick seemed to have sent an inappropriate tweet that used Scripture in a bad and hurtful way. Hours after the mass killings in Orlando, a tweet about God not being mocked and men reaping what they sow appeared on his Twitter account. However, Patrick quickly cleared up that he did not send that tweet as a message from God about the Orlando shootings. Instead, Patrick revealed that his Bible quote was something pre-scheduled from Thursday. By Sunday, a more appropriate Bible verse appeared on Twitter, with Patrick’s press release stating that he took down the original post because of bad timing, not because God’s Word is false.

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Unfortunately, there still exist some online — such as the infamous Westboro Baptist Church — that continue to use Bible verses in a way that attacks others at their worst and darkest moments. A recent offensive tweet from the Twitter account of the “church” spoke of hate and claimed that God sent the shooter to Orlando.

The long list of sins listed in the tweet were pulled from Galatians 5 — something that Christians cannot shy away from, but probably not in the manner expected. Whereas many Christians might be apt to point out the sins of others, plenty of news reports have been filled with revelations whereby Christians have quietly tried to hide their own sins.

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Simply plopping the word “pastor” into Google News reveals the latest news about inappropriate behavior engaged in by a man of God. And why shouldn’t it? Turning one’s life over to Christ and letting “Jesus take the wheel” means, according to the Bible, that eternal damnation is escaped. It doesn’t mean a perfect, sin-free life on Earth is gained.

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While Christians and non-Christians alike are having a healthy discussion about the topic on social media, the general consensus has been that terrorism is not a good tactic no matter what anyone believes. Since the greatest love spoken of in the Bible was of Christ giving up his life, that symbol of love should be the focus when tragedy strikes, not finger pointing and blame.

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“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

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How does love translate in modern life? It could mean Christians standing in a long line in order to donate blood — or issuing silent prayers for the list of shooting victims and their loved ones. It doesn’t mean clucking down holier-than-thou Christian noses about sinners getting what they deserved. It means falling on the grace of God and praying for mercy. After all, whereas many Christians are quick to point out the Bible’s mentions of homosexuality as sin, other issues like adultery or gluttony or selfishness or greed are many times overlooked by Christians practicing those very things behind closed doors.

As the victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting and their loved ones are brought to mind, perhaps the best Bible edict to remember in times of tragedy is to weep with those who are weeping and mourn with those who are mourning.

[Photo by AP Photo/Esteban Felix]


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