Why Do We Kill Each Other?
How can the American family not grieve the killing of George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota? It is a difficult video to watch because we now know that a man’s life was draining into a dirty street while a man wearing a badge of public trust hovered over him.
When the ensuing anti-police protests turned violent, the killings of federal law enforcement officer Dave Patrick Underwood and retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn became part of our national heartbreak.
Why did Cain murder his brother Abel in the book of Genesis? Was it because of their differences? One was a keeper of sheep and the other a tiller of the ground. It is amazing that murder came so quickly into Adam and Eve’s little family — the human family.
Why do we stab, shoot, and slaughter each other?
What Does Psychology Say?
Dr. R. Douglas Fields wrote an article in Psychology Today titled “Humans Are Genetically Predisposed to Kill Each Other.” That is a scary thought!
Based on a study of 1,024 mammalian species, Dr. Fields concludes that humans “are the most relentless yet oblivious killers on Earth … our violence operates far outside the bounds of any other species. Human beings kill anything. Slaughter is a defining behavior of our species. We kill all other creatures, and we kill our own.”
Dr. Fields adds, “The enormous industry of print and broadcast journalism serves predominantly to document our killing. Violence exists in the animal world, of course, but on a far different scale. Carnivores kill for food; we kill our family members, our children, our parents, our spouses, our brothers and sisters, our cousins, and in-laws. We kill strangers. We kill people who are different from us, in appearance, beliefs, race, and social status. We kill ourselves in suicide … We kill friends, rivals, coworkers, and classmates. Children kill children, in school and on the playground. Grandparents, parents, fathers, mothers — all kill and all of them are the targets of killing.”
This topic interests me because my great-grandfather was murdered by a neighbor. The killer set it up to look like a suicide. He got away with it for twenty-five years, or until he confessed his great sin on his deathbed. My great-grandfather had owned a grove of timber that his neighbor wanted.
What Do Theologians Say?
Some theologians teach the “inherited guilt” view that we humans are sinful and guilty because of the sin of Adam. Thus, we are born guilty according to the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition.
Other theologians teach the “inherited sinful nature” view. This view teaches that we each “receive from Adam a sinful nature but later become guilty due to our own sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions.”
Both views see human depravity as a consequence of sin, that is, all of our human nature has been corrupted by sin. Without God’s grace, we will stay separated from God and our rebellion will only get worse.
Our sinful nature makes sin deadly. Every daily newspaper proves it.
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible presents man as a created being, made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Man is a free moral creature having the ability to choose right or wrong. In the beginning, mankind sat at the pinnacle of all God’s creation and could enjoy a personal relationship with the Creator.
Early on, though, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s command. Death was the result as they were cast from the garden and barred from the tree of life.
Adam and Eve died spiritually with this sinful act. The parade of history proves the sinfulness of all humanity. Even the best of the best born into this world have chosen to sin; therefore, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
Sin brought suffering into our fallen world. Murder is the result of sin and our human depravity.
Is There Hope for Humanity?
If we are genetically predisposed to kill each other, then apart from God’s grace we will figure out a way to destroy the entire human race and act upon it.
Dr. Tony Evans points to the reason of our hope in his book Life Essentials: “Now if our problem is a defective, corrupt, and ruined nature, then we need a brand-new nature implanted within us to fix the mess. That’s exactly what God does for us at conversion.”
God’s plan of salvation is not based on me trying to nurture my nature from naughty to nice. God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. Jesus’ resurrection proved His power over sin and death. As the Holy Spirit helps us hear and respond to the message of the Gospel, the power of God makes us new creatures in Christ.
Only a Great Awakening of these Scriptural realities will save this generation from itself.
Ron F. Hale is a freelance writer, retired pastor and serves as an interim pastor and guest preacher when invited. Ron serves on the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee in Nashville, Tennessee. Contact him at [email protected].