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David Otten: Battling against violence with the love of Christ

By David Otten
Contributing writer
updated: 9/4/2019 11:53 AM

Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.

Another act of senseless violence occurred in Odessa and Midland, Texas, and as of this writing seven are confirmed dead.

People rightly want answers, they want this to stop. But we seem to want an easy and singular solution. Guns, mental illness and the current political climate are all blamed, but very few simple adjustments will cure it.

An Aug. 31, 2019, Washington Post article ("The Terrible Number that Grows with Each Mass Shooting") indicates that starting in 1966 there have been 167 mass shootings in the U.S. -- defined as a single shooter killing four or more people.

Most articles I have researched indicate that a singular solution is not going to be found. The question of the religion of the shooter is not discussed except in the case of a Muslim terrorist where religious beliefs are very much behind the shooting.

I found one Washington Post article entitled "What do Most Mass Shooters Have in Common? Hint: It isn't Politics, Video Games or Religion." (Sept. 14, 2017) indicating religion is not the problem.

What about lack of religion? The Daily Caller did have an article on this, but the Daily Caller has had serious accusations of "fake news" against it and I do not feel it wise to reference it. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made comments that suggest he believes lack of religion is a factor, but proceeding from silence or mere theory never wins court cases.

As a minister and Navy Chaplain I have experience in pre-marriage and marriage counseling. The number of first-time marriages ending in divorce is around 50 percent. But that statistic doesn't tell the whole story. Factors such as education, income, values and religion need to be sorted out to give a couple a true expectation of the chance of their marriage lasting. It has been shown that couples both dedicated to the same church and values have a much greater chance of their marriage being successful.

I suggest that a person devoted to Christ and His church is less likely to become a mass shooter.

From the beginning Christianity formed congregations, societies, fellowships and kept people on prayer lists. It's not just the ethical impact of rules that influences a person but the social impact as well.

Jesus taught us to love God and our neighbor -- turning the other cheek when attacked. Early Christians -- despite suffering, shame, poverty and execution -- would not rebel against the Roman empire. Instead they prayed for their persecutors.

Though there will always be violence in our world, I believe that if people become less isolated and private, reaching out regularly and caring for each other spiritually, physically and emotionally, there would be less violence.

Imitating Jesus, His sacrifice, forgiveness and compassion, has had an impact on others in the past. I believe it will today, too.

May each of us do our part in seeing that our loved ones do not slip into isolation, hatred and frustration but lead them to life in Christ.

• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.