By Dan Madrigal
Recently, pro basketball star Michael Jordan’s father James was murdered by two young men. Needless to say this event became the impetus for much talk and analysis about a great many things. I want to take the opportunity to do the same, but also to make some biblical observations as well.
The Rise of Violence
Many people have grown concerned about the rise of violence in our society and rightfully so. No one with his eyes open could deny that we live in a time where becoming a victim is a very high possibility no matter where you live. Mr. Jordan was murdered while resting in his car on a rural North Carolina road. I don’t know what it’s like generally speaking in rural North Carolina, but I do know what it is like in Chicago having worked with an inner-city Chicago church for the past four years. I know that there is no way in this world that I would pull my car over and park it to rest on any Chicago street. I don’t even like stopping at some street corners for the red light because of what could happen. Yet, I would probably be comfortable doing so in rural North Carolina. At least I would have been a few weeks ago. Murder, car-jacking, and general all around mayhem is par for the course these days. You probably already know what the lead stories were on this evening’s local news. You got it, murder. If you think car-jacking is bad consider that the twelve-year-old son of one of our members was approached at gun point the other day by another boy, who demanded that he give up his bike.
We know that it is no surprise to us that more crime exists in this country now than at any other time. It is probably no secret as to the root causes. The philosophy that we must use non aggressive methods to deter aggressors has become the practice of choice by many sectors of our society. For example, during the recent basketball championship games in Chicago, Chicago Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez went on television in public service announcements pleading with the fine citizens of Chicago not to do bad things when the Bulls win the final game. Rather, he should have demanded peaceful celebrations and strongly warned that offenders would be prosecuted swiftly and decisively. Then he should back it up with swift and decisive prosecution. The problem is that even the Superintendent of Police is constrained by legal technicalities that handicap the police.
Consider that God said, “For, the lips of a ruler are to speak the Word of God; and his mouth should not betray justice” (Prov. 16:10). Judges are rulers who are to “detest wrongdoing,” for government is “strengthened through righteousness” (Prov. 16:12-15). “When a ruler, executes judgment, he scatters away all evil” (Prov. 20:8). In the New Testament we are told that “governors … are sent . . . to punish those who do wrong” (1 Pet. 2;14). And rulers do not bear the sword in vain (Rom. 13:1-4). That is if they use it at all.
The Sanctity of Life
There no doubt will be countless people asking the age old question of “why?” Why did this have to happen to Michael Jordan’s father. I have had to do so too. I also wonder if these two young men who snuffed out Mr. Jordan’s life would have actually done so had they known who he was. I have to believe that these young men were probably Michael Jordan fans. They probably have Michael Jordan paraphernalia, or at least Chicago Bulls souvenirs in their homes. Yet, when they were able to detach and disengage themselves from the person that they were killing, it made it easier to carry out their evil deed. It seems that we are increasingly attempting to put a price tag on life. If the person is popular, rich and attractive it is a worse crime than if the person was obscure and unattractive.
The act of random murder, as it contributes to the rise of violence is in itself symptomatic of something very wrong in our society. When we do not punish by death those who snuff out another’s life, as a society we are sending the signal that human life is no more valuable than a loaf of bread. When we as a society begin to marginalize the value of human life, it sends the signal that some human life is more important than other human life. Which is exactly what has occurred with abortion, and now euthanasia ala Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian. The arguments used for abortion often take on monetary terms. It costs less to abort than to support another person on the public dole. At this rate, we may well improve our economic mess by euthanizing the children that are on public assistance. The devaluing of human life is at the center of the storm of violence and until we as a society repent and turn back to the Bible as the basis by which we view life, things will not improve much. Job stated it well while praising God, “Have you not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? You have clothed me with skin and flesh, and have fenced me with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and favor, and your visitation has preserved my spirit” (Job 10:10-12).
Perhaps the most talked about aspect of Mr. Jordan’s death was his life; particularly as he influenced his son Michael. There was immediate commentary by most people in the media about how influential he was in shaping and molding his famous son. The Chicago Sun Times reported how Mr. Jordan years ago built a half basketball court and later a whole court to provide a place for his son and other neighborhood boys to play where he could “keep an eye on him.” What I believe is significant about this is that you just can’t argue with what works. I wonder how careful the parents of Mr. Jordan’s killers were in watching them? I believe that it is safe to say that they didn’t give the same care and attention to their sons as Mr. Jordan did to his. Can we not agree that this is one of the major causes of rising crime. Parents are just not engaged with what their children are doing, and are ignorant of what influences are at work in their children’s lives.
Many social engineers have for years ridiculed parents who are too much of an influence on their own children. They say that children should be reared with as little parental manipulation as possible. According to the “Educators” children need to become autonomous. You see, according to the “experts” too much parental “control” can stifle psychological growth. Parents who strongly influence their children are labeled as misfits. They call this “indoctrination.” One of Donahue’s shows last fall at-tempted to do just that. He had several families on, all from deeply religious and traditional backgrounds. One family was orthodox Jew, another Mormon, and still another “Fundamentalist Christian.” Of course he also had avail-able his expert who normally deprograms cult members. During one of the exchanges Donahue’s expert asked the Fundamentalist’s son to name him one area in which he was different than his dad. This exchange was preceded by footage of the father preaching, and then the son preaching on a street corner. The intent was obviously to suggest that something was “dysfunctional” in this family if the son was just like his father. Yet, the comparisons between Michael Jordan and his father waxed eloquent. Recently, the cable channel VH 1 has been urging its young viewers to “Don’t Be Like Your Parents.”
Brethren, we can be doing everything that is within our power to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We can be striving to heed Leslie Diestelkamp’s warning to “Be careful, you’re bending that twig.” We can be striving to mold our children into responsible, God fearing people, but there are other forces working in the opposite direction. Do not fail to consider your children’s classroom either. Nevertheless, we must be true to God in our responsibilities as parents. We must be vigilant in this responsibility, even if it means being viewed as radical. We must take the reigns of influence away from the humanist and social engineers and educators of our children and become godly parents.
My children may never grow up to be superstars. They may never succeed at obtaining great wealth and popularity either. I only pray that my children will grow up to be super in the eyes of God. I pray that they know God and that God knows them. I pray that they are rich toward God and lay up treasures in heaven. And if this is what becomes of my influence over the heritage that God has blessed me with, then praise be unto God and not unto men.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 5, p. 1
March 3, 1994