Sutherland Springs, TX: The Ancestry of Evil
by Rector Jim Murphy
One of the societal rages of recent years has been a growing interest in family histories. Ancestry information and other assorted “family tree” web sites have exploded in their popularity. Tens of millions of folks have paid a hefty price to have their DNA researched. All of this in an effort to find out where, in terms of parentage and country of origin, etc., did this or that individual come from. Why does this and such a person tend to look, sound, behave or think in the way that they do.
Not a few folks have been “bitten” by the ancestry bug. And that’s understandable. It can be useful information to have so as to predict or explain various traits or tendencies. However, what is surprising about the ancestry phenomenon is that we seem to resist going through a similar process when it comes to considering evil. In consideration of the most recent example of man-made violence, this past Sunday in Sutherland Springs, TX: why don’t we go deeper, looking into the ancestry of evil? Why do we prattle on about surface issues that may describe or perhaps affect the evil but do nothing to alleviate it or solve it?
We’re quick to blame guns or broken homes or inadequate education or associations with sordid people-groups or whatever combination or additional contributing factors there might be. But all of this is done while we mindlessly fail to consider the origin of evil. Why do we consistently neglect the ancestry of evil: the evil heart of mankind? God lays it out plainly in his Word. We see it played out daily in our lives. Why do we occupy ourselves with pronouncements and condemnations while dancing around the problem of evil with no real hope of getting to the heart of it and or eliminating it?
Evil entered Creation when Adam and Eve, on behalf of us all, committed the Original sin. It didn’t take long for evil to take control. Genesis 6:5 teaches, “Then 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.” (NKJV) Every intent and thought! Continually! By the time of the prophet Jeremiah things had become worse. At verse 7:4 he recorded, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear [to God], but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah speaks in the particular situation to give evidence to the general condition of the hearts of men. Ignoring the ancestry of evil leads us away from a solution and further from God. Indeed, the almighty Father is the only one with the answer. Have we, generally speaking, become the classical “idiot savant.” Highly skilled in one realm while mentally-spiritually deficient in another?
Jesus, the Son of God, understood the human propensity unto evil. Consider his words that Luke records at 6:43-45. Those hearts that are given to evil, not given unto God, can only produce one kind of fruit: evil, bad, rotten fruit. That is why the author of the epistle to the Hebrews cautioned the early church and society: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” (3:12) That is also why evil events like Sutherland Springs, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Charlottesville, VA; and the like are only a foretaste of what is in store for us if we continue to ignore God, walking in the dictates of our own evil hearts.
The ancestry of evil leads back to Original sin. Unless and until that is dealt with, through belief or faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for sin, the problem will not, indeed, cannot be solved. As the Book of Common Prayer says, “We have no power in ourselves to help ourselves,” because every tendency of our hearts is evil. We’ll continue to be lost in a vortex of deluded human self-sufficiency until we honestly examine the ancestry of evil. But, we can change hearts, one at a time, through the power of the Christ and thereby set ourselves on a path to stop this madness. Know Jesus, know hope; no Jesus, no hope.