Through a murderer’s eyes

Published 10:52 pm Friday, August 28, 2015

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

On Wednesday when I first heard of the shocking murders near Roanoke, I instinctively did what most people did — looked at the screen to see what was going on.

The video, which showed the murders in cold blood, was being played over and over. Once was enough for me, and I don’t feel good about that once.

Email newsletter signup

The narcissistic loser who committed these crimes wanted us to watch. In what is being called a “social media murder,” he fled the scene and immediately posted his own video of his heinous deeds on Facebook and Twitter.

He craved the attention his murders would generate. He wanted us to watch his crimes, wanted his name repeated all day on television screens across the land, and wanted his picture posted across the world. And we gave it to him.

I will not speak his name in this column, and I will never watch that video again. The video has generated much debate about whether it should be shown at all, and it is a debate that needs to happen.

Let’s quit giving these murderers the fame they crave. Don’t speak their names, don’t look at their pictures and by all means don’t look at their crimes. If they are deprived of their 10 minutes of fame, perhaps murder will lose its allure.

And here is something else to consider: Does showing a video like this honor the victims as humans created in the image of God or turn them into objects?

Russell Moore has argued that videos like this are a sort of pornography. Pornography turns people into objects of lust. Videos of murders turn the victims into objects of sick curiosity.

So lots of us looked at the video, and lots of us looked for something else, namely the “cause” of the murders. And here things went badly wrong.

Immediately, there was talk about guns and gun control, as if more gun laws would have somehow prevented what happened. But if some evil person is this bent on murdering people, are any laws going to prevent it?

Talking heads also babbled on and on about the psychology of the murderer, and his pent-up anger and frustration. But again, this badly misses the point. It only scratches the bare surface of what was actually going on.

None of the commentators stated the real cause, which is sin within the human heart.

While none of the analysts came remotely close to the real cause, the apostle Paul hits the nail right on the head. In Romans 1, he speaks of the fallout from humanity’s rejection of God.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventers of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:28-31)

This world desperately needs the One who allowed himself to be murdered on our behalf, and who rose from the dead, so that life abundant and life eternal are given to all who repent and trust in the Savior.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.