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Commentary: Free will brings with it free choice — for good or evil

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Published Friday, August 3, 2012, at 11:10 p.m.

A young man was shot in a movie theater and died on his 27th birthday. In the newspaper, the sorrowful face of his father, seeking his son — before realizing the boy was dead — is enough to make you weep.

Such events boggle the mind and burden the heart.

They spur some people to look skyward and shake their fists. Inevitably the question is “Where was God?” The anger is understandable but misplaced. It is tempting to point the finger at God when tragedies happen, but it’s wrong.

In the case of the horrendous massacre at the opening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., God didn’t show up carrying weapons. He didn’t start shooting randomly at theatergoers who were there to enjoy themselves.

The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the man who planned the hideous deed and then carried it out.

Some would say only an insane person could do such a thing, but that perspective denies the reality of true evil. There are monsters lurking out there, and they take a perverse joy in causing suffering to others.

In short, there really is sin.

And theologically, the problem is not with God. He created us with free will, and it can lead to disasters, but also to wonders.

In this case, it was the mass killer who selected the weapons, planned his outfit and decided on the time and place for the attack. This means the blood is on his hands, and the stain on his soul.

Let’s not play the blame game with God. Yes, God could have created human beings who would never choose to stalk and kill people in a theater. He could have created us so that we always embraced his commandments.

But then we wouldn’t be human beings at all. We would be robots.

It seems that the price of our freedom is very high. With freedom comes suicide bombings and massacres in movie theaters. With freedom come terrible wars, drive-by shootings, rapes, robbery and a host of other horrors.

But with freedom also comes many things that are notable and lovely. These actions rarely make the headlines, unfortunately.

Think about parents sacrificing to put supper on the table for their children, or a husband sitting at his dying wife’s bedside. Think about neighbors cooking meals for grieving families. And all the people worldwide praying for the families in Colorado.

And let’s not forget the heroic young men who lost their lives that night when they threw themselves in front of their girlfriends in the movie theater.

On the whole, do our heroic deeds outweigh our hideous ones? Only God can determine that. As for the monsters preying on innocents, they may escape the hands of justice in this life, but they will surely serve their time in the next.

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