It happened again. :(
Once again, a story appeared in the national news that shocked even pagans and left Believers shaking with grief, pain, and rage. More victims. More lives devastated by sin, satan, and the world. AND IT DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.
Yesterday, an 18-year-old Pennsylvania boy accused of killing the parents of his 14-year-old “girlfriend” and fleeing with her to Indiana was arrested.
Sunday morning, police in Pennsylvania discovered the bodies of the young girl’s parents. Each had been shot once in the head. The 18-year old boy had brought the 14-year old girl home early that morning after keeping her out all night, triggering an argument between the boy and the girl’s father. The girl’s 15-year-old sister told police she saw the young man shoot her father. She then hid in a bathroom where she heard the shot that took her mother’s life. Her 9-year-old brother was also in the home at the time and ran to a neighbor’s house for help. The 18-year-old then called for his young “girlfriend” and fled the scene.
All the children mentioned in the above paragraph—including the alleged murderer—were from “Christian home schooling” families. In fact, the two fleeing teens had met last spring at a “home schooling” function. The 14-year old had a “web site” that talked about attending prayer groups and her interest in soccer and baby sitting. At the time of her parents’ murder, she was wearing a tee-shirt advertising a “Christian rock band.” The 18-year-old also had a web site on which he quoted lyrics from a “Christian band” and discussing his enjoyment of computers, volleyball, and deer hunting.
Of course the news stories were filled with quotes from disbelieving friends. Of the girl, a peer said “The way I knew her, she was very smart and she was like an amazing friend. She’s very Christian and I would have never thought any of this would happen.” She also called the deceased parents “the nicest people I’ve ever met.” The family’s “pastor,” quoted in the news with the title “Rev.” appended to his name, described them “a good family” dealing with “typical” teenage issues. “I think she loved her parents. I can’t comprehend any way in which she would conspire against her parents. It just is almost incomprehensible to think that she would be a part of something like that.” A neighbor added, “She seemed to be a typical all-American girl, just a sweet kid on the street.”
Then why did this tragedy happen? Where did things go so horrifically wrong?
If you’ve been paying attention to the last few paragraphs, you already know. These families were attempting to rear their children with a Christian lifestyle and Christian values—but it was clearly in an environment teeming with leaven and foolish building practices. Based on what you’ve already read, the following paragraph should not surprise you. Sadden and anger, yes; surprise, no.
Court documents made public in Pennsylvania detailed the relationship between the two teens. The couple had been “dating” since May, police said. A “close friend” of the young man told investigators Monday that he was “well aware” that they were “involved in an ongoing, secret, intimate relationship of a sexual nature,” according to an affidavit used to secure search warrants for their homes. The 19-year-old friend said he often spoke to the boy about the relationship, the affidavit said. The friend also told investigators the teens “often communicated via instant messages and text messages on the Internet.” Their communication, according to the affidavit, included “flirtatious messages” as well as “inappropriate images of one another via various electronic media” such as their computer systems and cell phones.
The girl’s parents, then, didn’t die simply of gunshot wounds to the head. They died of a lethal cocktail of poisons, including at least: (1) permission for adolescent children to run off in groups or pairs alone, with no supervision and no real accountability; (2) unmonitored use and abuse of the internet and electronic communication; (3) allowance for romantic relationships among children a decade away from realistically being ready for marriage; (4) fostering an environment in which children disciple other children; (5) disjointedness and independence on everyone’s part, with no safety net of daily relationships pressing in, asking questions, offering warning or encouragement or admonition, bringing God’s Word to bear in practical ways to lives; (6) attendance based “Christianity,” in which problems are preached at rather than resolved in real-time situations; (7) a priesthood of a man with a degree, rather than a priesthood of Believers; and (8) confusion of external “life style choices” of music and education with internal choices of genuine obedience and discipleship.
And here’s a disturbing question: How many times has virtually the same scenario been played out during the past twelve months, only it didn’t make the national news because the young man didn’t happen to have a gun with him and so no one physically died? How many, how many, have spiritually died by drinking the same lethal poisons?
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. I desperately do want to let everyone on the entire globe know that. I’m not sure how we will get that job done. But this I know: each of us can take responsibility for the people within our circle, our sphere of influence, and build differently ourselves. Not with regimented “programs” of accountability; not with harsh legal requirements. But the way Jesus and His apostles did it—by daily, “in public and from house to house,” loving and pressing in and taking risks—with the courage to look, act, and be different than the world around us. Our lives, and the lives of those we love, depend on it.