Written by Lydia D’Ross, Ordained Minister and Outreach Chaplain for Renewal at Brookhaven Hospital
We have had several incidents of violence in Oklahoma, and, more broadly, in our country recently. Of course, there is no simple cause, but rather a combination of factors leading to what seems to be an increase in violent incidents. Can a person be redeemed from violent behaviors?
Cain was the first murder recorded in biblical history. He was fighting an emotional war within himself feeling strongly that he needed to have Abel’s birthright at any cost. Hate drove Cain to kill Abel. If Cain could have resisted the hate he had for his brother seeking God’s wisdom, the murder could have been avoided.
Scriptures says, “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7
The Spirit of violence builds up over time, and can begin with a simple conflict, or a thought. Those thoughts if not treated, can lead a person to be a threat to themselves or others. God has given us gifted hands to build, not to use to destroy. God gave us a mind to create, not to hate others but rather to love one another.
We need to build a bridge of hope and clergy leaders of the community must learn to identify and recognize symptoms of patterns of violent behavior. According to Bent-Goodley (2006) some “…clergy missed opportunities to stop violence in the home ..” based on their own “lack of preparation, denial and minimization, solo ministry, and theological confusion .“ (Fortune 1991) It is important to note that most individuals with mental illness will not perpetrate violence against others. The suicide rate in our country is double that our the homicide rate.
The prophet Isaiah shares this insight: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8–9. This passage is foundational to understanding violence undertaken by God.