Some Thoughts About the Covenant School Shooting in Nashville
Was the Nashville christian school shooting a hate crime against Christians?
That’s the question a lot of people are asking now that more information has come out about the Covenant School shooting in Nashville.
Let me just say first that Nashville is where I lived when I was a little kid, and some of my fondest childhood memories are from there. I remember going to Opryland before they tore it down and put up a mall there. I remember driving by the AT&T building, which we called the Batman building back then, and I remember the time when my older brother was sleeping in our backyard and I walked up to where he was sleeping, grabbed his Mountain Dew can and took a big swig out of it only to find out that it was actually the spit can for his dip.
So when I saw the news about the shooting in Nashville, I knew I needed to at least share my condolences and let the families know that I am praying for them. So, let me say first-- if you are someone who is connected to this, let me just say that I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I have a young blond headed daughter, and seeing the picture of the pastor's daughter today was enough to bring me to my knees. So I just wanted to say that we stand in solidarity with you and that you ARE the victims here.
Now when something like this happens in a place like America, the battleground of ideas begins almost immediately, especially in the media and on the internet. It’s as if every person comes into the arena with a different narrative and fact pattern, ready to fight to the death, even if that means fighting dirty.
One side says, “Guns! Assault rifles are the problem. Can’t you see!? We’ve been telling you this for years. Why won’t you just listen and ban all the guns!?” Another side says, “This is because theocratic fascist states like Tennessee, with their anti-trans laws! They had it coming!” And another side says, “See, we told you transgenderism was a mental illness. We told you that the left hates Christians and wants to take away our life and liberty.”
So what’s the truth? It seems clear now that more facts have come out, that the shooter grew up in a Christian family in Nashville, attended the Christian school in question, and then went to college to study art. It seems that she was radicalized sometime after leaving home and then started to experiment with transgenderism and testosterone. It seems very clear at this point that the targeting of Christians was intentional, and that this was in fact a religious hate crime.
So how should Christians respond to this? Well, I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I’ll give you a few thoughts that I had today as I was processing through all of this.
First, we tell the truth. A lot of Christians don’t want to do this because it’s inconvenient. Everybody has a narrative they’re pushing, so to tell the truth necessarily means being confrontational. I get it, I don’t like confrontation either (of course if you throw shade at me in the comments I’m gonna throw it right back) but avoiding confrontation is way more dangerous than the opposite extreme of being in love with it. Most of the serious problems we have in our world today are there because good people shut their mouths in an effort to be nice, and said nothing. I was really convicted of this today. When I look at my own life, there are so many times when I just feel too lazy to deal with drama and someone emotionally throwing up on me, so I say nothing. But now every time I feel like I should say something and don’t, I’m going to remember the picture of the family that lost their beautiful little girl, when maybe that could have been stopped if more people had spoken truth to the disturbed person who took her life.
Second, we need to be discerning. It’s easy to allow ourselves to get sucked into narratives, and to fight with anger and to not be respectful to those we disagree with. Let me just say, we have enough anger and polarization in our world. Anger and hatred is what got us in this situation, and no amount of pumping ourselves up on our own adrenaline is going to give us the strength to get out of it.
We also need to understand the signs that someone is being radicalized. When people say things like “words are violence” and “stop trans genocide” they are painting a picture of themselves as a victim who is justified in responding to violence with violence. If words and different perspectives are violence, what that means is that you are not allowed to have or voice a different position to theirs, or else you will be punished.
We need to be able to distinguish between radicalized people and neighbors with bad ideas. Not everyone with bad ideas has been radicalized; radicalization happens when people have bad ideas AND are willing to hurt others who disagree with them.
Third, we need to build the counterculture. Talking about these things online is one thing, but if we, especially us men, aren’t stepping up and leading and building strong family lines that will combat evil ideologies in our world, we really are damned hypocrites. Our homes are THE most important training ground and we can be the nicest parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles in the world, but if we aren’t actually helping the upcoming generations prepare for these ideological battles, we might as well be sending them to football practice without a helmet on.
In closing, I want to ask that you would join me in stopping to reflect, and to pray for the community in Nashville and to pray for God’s mercy on our country, before God himself runs out of patience with us...