By Elizabeth Prata
Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a 28 year old woman from Nashville, packed herself with two assault-style rifles, a handgun, and lots of ammunition, drove to a Christian school, parked, and exited her vehicle. She shot out the glass on the side doors to the school. Entering the hall, she looked for people to kill. And kill she did, slaying a substitute teacher, a custodian, the head of school, and three nine-year-old children.
She apparently identified as a boy. She was a biological female, but preferred to think of herself as a male. She used he/him pronouns on her now defunct social media, and gave herself the name Aiden. She also dressed as a male, including a tie.
This tells us that she was on the far end of sin. As Romans 1:18-32 describes the process of deepening sin in both an individual and a society, we see that Hale was toward the end of the sin-spectrum, having a mind so futile she couldn’t figure out her own gender.
When a person is that deep into sin, Romans 1:28-31 says,
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to an unfit mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 having been filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, violent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;“
Hale’s choice to look a 9-year old in the face and shoot her dead, along with 5 others before being killed by police herself, is evil. But sin is something that is inside each one of us.
I want us all to understand something.
In a sense, we are ALL capable (before salvation) of such evil deeds. Hitler might be seen as an anomaly but he wasn’t unusual. Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Timur, Bloody Mary, Lenin, Stalin, Idi Amin…all just as evil. History is littered with ruthless, evil leaders possessing a penchant to kill.
As for run-of-the-mill individuals, ABC News states that “There have been 131 mass shootings with four or more people wounded or killed so far in 2023.” John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, the Hillside Strangler, Skid Row Slasher…and I could go on with naming serial killers and murderers.
King David was a murderer. So was Saul/Paul.
We learn other things about murder in the Bible. For example, we learn that murder is a crime authored by the devil himself. John 8:44 says the devil is a murderer. And murder is basically authored by Satan.
John MacArthur, “Who is a Murderer?“
Hale’s decision to mass murder isn’t a fringe event (thanks to police’s swift action or there would have been many more victims, said the Metro Police Chief). Murder is a sin that is sadly in each one of us. The very first human-to-human crime was … murder. Cain slew Abel.
We tend to think sin is an abstract. We like to think it’s something that can be handled. We toy with it. We indulge sin, sometimes for a long season. Post-salvation, we respect the Bible’s stance on sin, but do we, really? Do we understand how strong sin as a force is?
Even Christians tend to overlook some sins. Ligonier Ministry wrote: “Have you ever found yourself so caught up and concerned with the rampant sinfulness of our culture that you forget about the subtle sins in your own heart? If so, Jerry Bridges has written a book for you. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress, 2007) takes aim at the sins many Christians consciously or unconsciously consider “acceptable” behavior.”
NO! Sin is powerful and a HUGE PROBLEM.
If we are saved, there is blessedly one direction we will go- and that’s toward sanctification, holiness, Christ-likeness. We resist the sin that is in us, every day, a little more. The Holy Spirit sees to that. But just as we cannot fathom how much the Lord loves us, we cannot fathom how evil sin is.
But if a person isn’t saved, the direction they will always go will be deeper in sin. That’s the other direction. Sometimes the Lord calls some of them home before they reach the level of evil murder. But remember, Jesus said that,
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be answerable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22).
Jesus is saying that yes, murdering a human is bad. Slaying a body is breaking the Law. But the human heart harbors such evils (Galatians 5:20-21) that we can’t even know (Jeremiah 17:9). Yet, the scope of God’s commandment not to murder isn’t restricted to solely the fleshly demise at the hands of another. The commandment not to kill encompasses more that just that. It concerns the glory of God, divine judgment, God’s holy character, and a person’s inner attitudes. John MacArthur explains the Matthew 5:21-22 verse,
And that’s why Jesus goes on in verse 22, and says this, “But I say unto you – ” Let Me tell what God really meant by that word in Exodus. Let Me give you the right interpretation. “ – whosoever is angry with his brother… “Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Jesus simply says, it isn’t the issue of murder alone, it’s the issue of anger and hatred in your heart. You cannot justify yourself because you don’t kill. Because if there’s hatred in your heart, you are the same as a murderer.
Allowing sin to linger causes problems for the saved person-
If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; (Psalm 66:18).
Sin is evil! We are all sinners! It is heinous to think of Audrey Hale gunning down sweet little children. Our minds recoil from that. Our hearts grieve over acts like that. But do our hearts and minds mourn and recoil over the 2 biggest sins in history? Sins worse than shooting a small child? Such as: Adam’s rebellion in the Garden, and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus?
If our mind hates that sweet innocents like the 9 year olds in Covenant Christian School were killed by Hale point blank, what about life in a perfect earth, personally knowing God, dwelling in a state of innocence, yet choosing to disobey God? What about a man like Judas, living with Jesus, seeing all his miracles, absorbing all His teaching, for three years, yet selling the most perfect and beautiful person in the universe, for money? Does our mind recoil from THAT?
This is why we all need the Gospel. We all need it, pre-salvation and even after salvation. Sin is THE most pervasive and most evil force upon the earth. Not gravity, not solar flares, not magnetism, SIN.
Our hearts might be angry with a mass shooter of children, but our hearts should also ache for the sins we ourselves perpetrate. The respectable ones, the subtle ones, the overt ones. All of them. Jesus came to die for us so that we might be saved from His just wrath.
Audrey Hale wrote to a friend just before she shot up the school. She said she wanted to die. She said she’d see her friend in another life. Audrey Hale did die that day. Police shot her. She died, but sadly, her pain didn’t end then. It only began.
I grieve over the unsaved living in this ever-deepening cesspool world of sin. I grieve over their death and headlong plunge into hell and torment forever. Such was I before grace came. Be grieved or even angry over evil. But aim your anger over the true culprit: sin. Such were some of us- angry, confused, emotionally disturbed. And drunkards, addicts, homosexuals, liars, filthy beasts. The Gospel is the answer.
THANK YOU Jesus for living on earth as God-Man, a perfect life, and unjustly dying and rising again. Thank you for solving the world’s worst problem- sin and our separation from You. Thank you for giving us a right worldview and hope and peace.
Share the reason for the hope that is within us. No doubt Audrey Hale had been given the Gospel. Her parents were devout. Audrey Hale rejected it. Some will reject. But some won’t. And so we persevere, sounding forth His GOOD NEWS, until the Lord comes back –
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of an entrance we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10)