(From 1999) Kendall Harmon on the Columbine High School shooting and the Judgment of God

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the tragedy...[at Columbine High School] continues to grip the nation, real answers for the reason behind it have so far proved elusive.

You have heard the voices. Youth culture is the problem, Hollywood is to blame. Where were the parents? What about the school officials who could have, should have, known sooner? Maybe gun availability is the culprit.

Others point the finger at the devastating impact of peer pressure, and on and on it goes.

But amidst this din of stories, analysis and commentary, there is one thing which is not being said. Its silence has become deafening, yet it begs to be heard because it points the way to a more painful, yet more hopeful answer.

Can you think of what is not being said? What is nearly always blurted out in other situations but has not been articulated in this one?

Judge not. You remember this one, don't you? Jesus said it, right? What is fine for you is fine for you, but I have a different take on it. You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to, you say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.

But suddenly the cat is out of the bag, because the one thing everyone is doing is judging.

. To say Hollywood is showing too much violence implies there is a standard of decency which Hollywood has violated. If people are upset that the parents did not know, that implies an idea of an effective parent (involved) and a bad parent (uninvolved).

Strange word, that, BAD. Opposite of GOOD (not effective, as misused above - did you notice?)

We do not hear these words, good and bad, very much anymore, do we? What happened to the so-called "post-modern" world? I thought we were to speak of values and preferences. I thought we were not supposed to judge.

Our reaction to Littleton says volumes more than even the tragedy of Littleton itself, because it exposes our hypocrisy about judgment. We claim to live in a world of taste and lifestyle, but the moment anything of real import occurs the game shifts to be played on another field. On this field, words like God and goodness, the satanic and evil, beg to be used, because they are the only way in which to begin to wrestle with the magnitude of it all. "Anger management" classes just are not enough.

But then the guns went off, and not only our judgments poured forth, but God's did as well. If Littleton means anything, it means God's judgment upon an America which is losing its moral and spiritual vocabulary and imagination.

When Jesus said "judge not" in Matthew 7:1, he did not mean what he is often alleged to have meant, that we are not to judge. He calls for his followers to judge "with right judgment" (John 7:24) which is how we, like him, are able to distinguish between true and false prophets (Matt. 7:15-20).

What is at issue is what is being judged and how. The human heart and a person's ultimate spiritual condition is something God alone can judge, but we can judge people's behavior and words - "you will know them by their fruits" - and render partial verdicts when appropriate.

The full verse, the second half of which is frequently left off, is, "judge not, that you be not judged," by which Jesus means we are to judge with the awareness that the standard we use on others is one which we will also be judged by.

So we are called by the judgments about Littleton [the community in Colorado where Columbine High School is located] to hear the judgment we are bringing on ourselves, and the far more important judgment God is making and will render upon us. We are indeed one nation under God.

As applicable today as when I first wrote it--KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchEducationViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheodicy

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