Thursday, December 13, 2007

Matthew Murray

As you're probably aware, last Saturday evening, a young man, Matthew Murray, murdered two young people at the YWAM base just north of us, here in Colorado, and two young women at a church not so far south of us. In case you had not heard or realized: he was a homeschooler.

Shows how my mind works: "I hope he wasn't a Sonlighter!" (It turns out he wasn't .) . . . But it is unnerving nonetheless. Especially since we know many people involved in YWAM and in the church down south.

Yesterday, someone directed me to a collection of posts Murray made during the period between the shootings in Arvada and the ones in the Springs. From the initial collection, I found additional posts. And they are disturbing.

I think there is little question Murray was suffering some kind of severe mental derangement. How much of the derangement was unavoidable--i.e., completely physiologically based--I cannot say. I think there is little question that he had made decisions over the past several years that intensified the dark state of his mind. (Having found myself "on the edge," emotionally, psychologically, when I was a young man (very young--say, about 12); having been closely associated with at least one person who had to be hospitalized for mental problems--indeed, having been so close to the situation that I had to sign him in to the hospital; and having read or heard the stories of many others; I think I can testify: we humans are able both to improve our mental states through careful self-disciplined mental exercise (think of a person like Corrie ten Boom); we are also able to cause ourselves great mental and emotional harm thro! ugh foolish--shall we call it--"wound-picking": calling to mind, over and over, all the insults to our dignity--insults real or imagined--that others have caused us.)

Murray obviously chose the latter route, constantly bringing to mind the ways in which he believed his parents had wronged him.

That, in itself is disturbing. And as a result, I would like to urge you: if you find yourself having been wounded, or if you find yourself being wounded, even right now by someone you know: I urge you to pursue the path of forgiveness, the path of yielding vengeance to the Lord, the path of speaking blessing upon your enemies rather than curses, etc., etc. --These behaviors, I believe, are at the root of the Gospel. Of course, they arise from an understanding that, as Jesus said, you yourself have been forgiven . . . "forgiven much" (Luke 7:37-50).

I have no doubt many of my readers need to hear this message. And, as I said, if you're one of them, I urge you to meditate on the Scriptures that call you to such forgiveness, to such "giving up of your rights."

But there is something else Murray wrote that disturbs me possibly even more. And it's a second direction for which I sense Murray's comments might offer a useful path to follow and which some of us parents in the homeschool world may need to hear . . . possibly even more than the message of forgiveness.

Murray wrote, "Growing up, TV, Internet/computers, video games, music, Christian contemporary music, movies and books were all extremely restricted. All those things carried this . . . mystique about them. They were like these mythical things imbued with incredible power straight from Satan." One example: "[W]e were told that The Simpsons was a very evil and Satanic TV show with the intent of causing people to leave Christianity"--and, therefore, he would never be permitted to watch it.

Now, I have to admit, I have never watched The Simpsons. I really have no interest. From what little I've seen or heard about the program, it seems quite low-brow and a waste of time. (But then, I have pretty much the same attitude toward most TV. In general, as far as I'm concerned, I have better things to do with my time.) HOWEVER, . . .

I was talking with the president of an international mission yesterday morning about some of these matters. As we spoke, he suggested we (parents) might reduce the "incredible power" of so much of the media if and as we interact with our maturing children about these things rather than simply and solely declaring them "off-limits."

This was the path that Sarita and I followed. As I've written in our catalog over the years, we wanted to be there with our children as they confronted the more difficult issues of life. We tried not to "protect" them so much that they would never be exposed to non-Christian media, to the arguments (or satire or sarcasm or . . . ) aimed at Christianity. We didn't want to keep them from seeing the uglier sides of life.

Instead, we wanted to be able to help them think through the implications of what they were seeing or hearing.

As the ministry leader told me he has said to missionaries who, he thought, had been, perhaps, overly protective: "When would you rather your daughter first saw an 'R' rated movie--after she has left your house, or while she is still with you and you can talk about it?"

I'm not advocating that you seek out rotten movies or degrading literature, music, websites or video games. All I am attempting, here, to say is that an extreme, fearful, complete censorship can actually create what Matthew Murray described: a mystique about these things that actually increases the perception on the part of our children that they must, indeed, hold "incredible power"--more power, apparently (to our kids' minds!), than anything that He Who is within them (1 John 4:4) is able to withstand. . .

So. Rather than, as it were, declaring by our actions that these things do, indeed, hold an "incredible power straight from Satan," may I suggest that we demonstrate how completely foolish and weak they are? At the appropriate time, let us take the initiative and mock them, these "weak and miserable principles," the "beggarly elements" of the world (Galatians 4:3, 8-9).

Do my comments, here, cause you discomfort? . . . I invite you to reply via a comment. . . .

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