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In Grimm’s Fairy Tales, there is a story called The Robber Bridegroom. Written in 1812, at a time when books were rare, the most common book was the Bible. The Grimm Brothers, primitive librarians, were trying to preserve tales of the storytellers in Germany. These fairy tales, which included some magic, had been propagated by mouth for hundreds of years partly because they contained teachings and advice for the common people.

Shock and grief at Sandy Hook (Washington Post).

The Robber Bridegroom is a story about evil. After a marriage has been arranged by her father, a beautiful girl is invited to visit her fiancée who lives deep in the forest. To show the way, the fiancee deposits a trail of ashes. The girl feels uneasy, and leaves her own trail of peas and lentils.

When she arrives at the large gloomy house, she finds the master is away according to the cook. She was an old woman who tells the girl the house is evil. Then, she hides the girl behind a barrel when the master arrives with his companions, who have kidnapped a maiden.

In a ghoulish scene, they strip off her clothes cut the maiden up with a meat cleaver, and prepare to cannibalize her. A finger wearing a gold ring spins through the air and lands behind the barrel in the petrified girl’s lap.

After drugging the villains’ wine, the old woman escapes with the horrified girl. They run through the forest by moonlight, following the peas and lentils which have now sprouted. The townsfolk are reluctant to believe the girl’s story until they see the ring finger. During the wedding celebration, the girl traps the robber by relating a dream in which she witnessed the maiden’s murder. When the ring finger is revealed and the robber exposed, the townsfolk convict him and he is hanged with his henchmen.

What are the teachings in this tale? First, that evil exists in the world and must be challenged and fought. Second, the old woman who knew the house and its inhabitants was able to plan an escape for the young girl who did not have that knowledge. Third, the trail through the forest was originally marked by the robber using ashes, a symbol of death. However, then the trail blazed by the girl became a pathway of pea and lentils sprouts, a symbol of life. Fourth, the townsfolk acted together to confront the evil and punish the perpetrator, the robber bridegroom.

I was intrigued by parallels between this fairy tale and the Bible. First, the entire Bible is about good and evil, starting from the oldest book of Job. Jesus talked a lot about evil, and the Lord’s Prayer ends with the words “Deliver us from evil”. Second, Jesus brought hope to struggling peasants. He offered a real escape from the delusion and ravages of sin. Third, the Bible talks directly about a broad road that leads to death but also a narrow road that leads to life. The fourth speaks of justice. At the end of time, perpetrators of evil will be held accountable to God for their deeds.

Mourning by people of all ages (Washington Post).

The awful senseless killing of twenty young children at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut reminds us that evil lurks close beneath the surface of our civilized society. Although bad decisions can be made by people whose soul is darkened by drugs, or mental illness, such as bipolar. Or because they do not feel loved. When a person plans and deliberately kills twenty young children, that has to be evil. While Jesus the Christ offers redemption from the degrading effect of sin in personal lives, we must be ready to live and show this hope and love that is in us. We may be the only Bible that some people read!

There are also occasions when we need to stand up and instigate changes that will help to deliver us from future evil. An obvious question that arises from Sandy Hook is about owning assault weapons. This is not to be confused with ownership of regular guns, which is a different issue. Would someone explain why this country allows people to buy semi-automatic guns such as the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle (similar to the military’s M-16)?

This was the primary weapon of Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook, and why so many kids died. He sprayed the children with bullets, first from a distance and then at close range. He hit some of them as many as eleven times. In contrast, in a recent attack in China a man with a knife attacked and wounded over twenty people, but no one died. A semi-automatic extracts the spent cartridge and loads the next cartridge into the chamber automatically, ready to fire again. One round is fired with each trigger pull. Note that various semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns are classified as “assault weapons” when they have certain combinations of features.

So what is the reason for the open sale of assault weapons? If it is for hunting, using a semi-automatic to bring down a deer or an elk doesn’t seem to be necessary or sporting. If it is to protect our homes from burglars, I suppose you might feel safer if you have a Bushmaster by your bed. But note that burglars commit only about 9% of violent crimes that occur in a victim’s home. Yes, 91% are committed by people you know against other people you know.++ And only about 10% of violent crimes committed by burglars involve a firearm.++

It may be hard to see now, but in the end love and justice are more powerful than evil. Meanwhile the tears we shed, thousands of miles across the country from Sandy Hook, are a tiny snippet of love and support that we send your way on the wings of prayer.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….

“Then little children were brought to Jesus that He might put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But He said leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or hinder them, for of such as these the kingdom of heaven is composed. And He put his hands upon them, and then went on his way” (Matthew, chapter 19, Amplified Bible).

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin – who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought – it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea” (Matthew, chapter 18, Amplified Bible).

“Beware that you do not despise or scorn one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always are in the presence of and look upon the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew chapter 18, Amplified Bible).

PS: thank you Neil and Kim and Mary Ann and Kim and Sherrie for editorial assistance.

^^ The Robber Bridegroom by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
++ From Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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7 Responses to Some Truths about Guns and Sandy Hook: Acts of Evil

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  2. Thank you for this article. I appreciate that fact that you give blame to evil, and not gun ownership per se. This is a gentle and well balanced article amongst the sea of strident knee-jerk articles.

  3. Good post, Ian. Wise words. Evil exists but so does God. I pray His glory is seen and as Jesus taught us to pray….. “deliver us from evil”.

  4. You are so right about the assault weapons; they should not be available. But the mass killings that have taken place in my lifetime have not all been from weapons of mass destruction and none of this senseless murdering should take place. It could be a bomb made from fertilizer that killed 168 or more people in Oklahoma City to airplanes flying into buildings killing and maiming so many in New York City and Washington, D.C. All murders are horrid and unacceptable; but, schools are the worst ones and they are mostly from assault weapons.

    However, mental health has to be addressed at this point. If we take all the guns, all the bombs, all the airplanes away – these mentally ill people will find a way to kill. If we have heavy security at airport, school gates, government buildings, the evil ones will find a way inside. I have no answers except to pray to God for protection and the turning back to Christianity instead of away from it. These last few days have broken my heart as we read, watch, and listen to the theories on Sandy Hook Elementary School. Sweet baby faces and wonderful adults, young and old, were taken before their time.

    I do enjoy your writings, Ian. Keep up the good work.

  5. Ian, once again you bring up a subject matter which deserves mature, adult, meaningful discussion. God has chosen to bless me on this side of Heaven with your friendship. We have hiked different parts of New Mexico, and sat for hours discussing various subject matters. With that said, let me begin with a real story in my neighborhood…….a home down the street. Last spring the owner was in her bedroom in the afternoon, when she heard a commotion in her living room. She exited her bedroom armed with a weapon (shotgun or rifle, I do not know which). Two low-life’s had broken in, midday, to obviously do harm to her or her property. They weren’t there to deliver Girl Scout Cookies!! She shot one perp, they turned and ran out of the house. The one who was shot died in the front yard, the other was captured that evening by our law enforcement agencies. To this day, no matter WHAT time of day you drive by this home, EVERY exterior light is turned on. She is forever a victim!!! Now, what happened in Connecticut was a horrible tragedy, perpetrated by satan who is out to “kill, steal, and destroy”. My neighbor was in possession of a weapon which surely alleviated additional harm being perpetrated upon her or her property. A weapon in the proper hands (hers) was appropriate that day, a weapon in the hands of a troubled young man in Connecticut had the most horrific consequences imaginable. It wasn’t the weapon, it was whose hands it was in which produced quite different results. I support more stringent controls pertaining to access and training for the weapons many are criticizing, but don’t blame the weapon. We kill 100’s, no 1000’s daily with drugs, alcohol, even scalpels in abortion clinics….. where are the politicians and public figures calling for corrective response in those areas? Yes Connecticut was an inexplicabable horrible tragedy, no words could sooth the pain and suffering experienced here. However, there is only ONE real answer to events such as this……and His Name is Jesus. His shed blood, death, burial, and ressurection, and accepting Him in your heart as your personal Lord and Saviour is a first step for those who may not have accepted Him to date. For the rest of us, His Holy Spirit can minister to us, guide us to comfort, and impress each of us as to what direction we must go in response to these kinds of horrors being perpetrated upon society. I sure don’t have the answers to this tragedy, but I know a Lord whose Hand we are being held in.
    You might disagree with me vehemently here, but I would ask you to attack the message, not the messenger. We can agree to disagree. May the Lord richly bless you.

  6. In Australia, the Port Arthur massacre was 16 years ago and 35 were killed and 23 wounded. The killer was a 28 year old from the suburb of New Town in Hobart. As a result Prime Minister John Howard instituted much tighter gun restrictions, where people have to apply for a permit to acquire a firearm. Hunting, feral animal control, collecting, and target shooting are acceptable reasons, but self defence as a general rule is not an acceptable reason. Now, only 5% of Australians own a licensed firearm. I guess criminals still possess unregistered guns.

    I find the ‘gun’ problem in the US quite amazing really. Since John Howard instituted a gun buy-back scheme after Port Arthur, we haven’t had an incident of multiple killings with guns. However, it has meant that the average guy like myself cannot justify having a gun even for hunting purposes, and the controls on those who still have them are very strict …. locked cabinets with ammunition stored elsewhere. In Australia though, we still have stabbings.

    In the USA, the gun lobby response seems to be that there should be more guns everywhere, rather than removing them from the community. Where does this end? Shopping centres, cinemas, churches, schools, sports arenas all need more people with guns??

  7. Dale Bryant |

    Ian, although I know it must be the truth, I still have a problem with having to wait till the end of time for perpetrators to be penalized. But oh well. Anyway, outlawing the assault rifles seems the logical solution, but there is such opposition to this from every direction. When I hear opposition is it most comes from those politically Conservative and much of the time from Christians. They emphatically say that the government wants to take all their guns away and its like they don’t even hear the part about it only being assault rifles that would be illegal, just like it was under Bill Clinton. They seem to think we are in either the Tribulation or the Wild West. lol. How do you get through that wall of opposition to where things were sensible enough to ban assault rifles? I don’t know. Regarding the mentally ill, that angle is exasperated by those who want to constantly cut all taxes, which takes funds away from mental health services. Having been employed in mental health industry for a while, a problem exists in the overboard pushing of patient confidentiality to the point we aren’t allowed to know if a person is dangerous. I even did a graduate research paper on patient confidentiality and felt it was being pushed beyond reason. I was once taken to a mental hospital with my work and watched a co-worker interviewing a man who was wanting get out of the mental hospital, back into society. He had killed his father, his wife’s dentist, and tried to kill his mother as well. No one is really allowed to know about any of this except mental health! They were discussing how, if released, he was going to be relocated to a small town about 40 minutes from where I live. Is that fair to people of that community? I think not. Anyway, I noticed on many of these mass murderers, reading between the lines in the news, that the dangers of these people were known but no one outside of mental health was allowed to know. Thus, we do need to outlaw assault rifles and to allow the proper authorities outside of mental health to know what is going on with those who can be dangerous. I love the way you can relate these real life stories to Bible principles, Ian.

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