"We may never know why this happened."
That's the usual reaction when another "senseless" shooting leaves its trail of death and heartbreak. Not this time.
The vengeful gunman in last week's horrific rampage near Santa Barbara, California left a hate-filled, 141-page manifesto to explain it. Three were stabbed to death, three sorority girls shot to death, 13 injured. It was one student's self-described "day of retribution."
"My Twisted World" is, in part, a journal of growing romantic and sexual frustration. Girls went for other guys but not for him. Others were having sex while he was an unintentional virgin. Frustration morphed into loneliness, then desperation, then a hellish personal agenda of destroying what had hurt him.
In the midst of the subsequent discussions about gun control and mental illness, few are addressing his convoluted ideas about love and sex and women. Lies that permeate our culture. Our hopes. Our expectations.
They're lies I'm all too familiar with. From knowing so many who've bought these lies. And feel worthless and rejected. Often driven to withdrawal, bitterness, or self-pity. Some lash out. Some just decide to die.
They're wrong ideas that need to be exposed. They're hurting too many.
1. Sex and love give you worth.
That seems to be what the California mass shooter believed. Along with millions of people who've been bombarded with a Hollywood story line that holds up romantic love as the ultimate happy ending. The ultimate validation that you're worth something.
But, as many can attest, they got used, not loved. Like the teenage girl who called for advice about whether to give in to her boyfriend's pressure to have sex. She hadn't dated much...she was a virgin...but she really didn't want to lose him.
I told her she'd probably lose him anyway once she gave in - and lose something she could never get back. But he made her feel valuable. She gave him what he wanted. He moved on. She said, "I thought I'd feel worth more if I did it. I don't. I feel more worthless than ever."
If you're counting on love or sex to give you worth, you're pouring your money into a vending machine that can't give you what you paid for.
2. A man proves his manhood by conquering a woman.
The Bible says we're all "made in the image of God" (1). It commands young men to "treat the younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (2). So using them - for your pleasure, your ego, your satisfaction - diminishes both you and her.
A guy doesn't prove his manhood by conquering a woman. He proves it by being a man women are safe with. Respected. Protected. Unviolated.
3. Love and sex will make you fulfilled.
Just ask the countless people who believed the lie. The most passionate love, the greatest sex still leave you with that haunting whisper in your soul.
"Someone's missing." Someone is. That's Someone with a capital S.
A boyfriend...a girlfriend...a lover...a husband or wife - they just don't fill the hole in the human heart. They can't. Because God says He has "planted eternity in the human heart" (3). And nobody on earth can fill that eternity vacuum.
That takes God Himself inhabiting the human heart. The One who gave you your worth before you were born. The One who restored the worth our sin had stolen by sending His Son Jesus to build a bridge to get to Him. A bridge in the shape of a cross.
The deep hunger of a restless heart can only be satisfied one way.
By the Love that heart was made for.
(1) Genesis 1:27 (2) 1 Timothy 5:2 (3) Ecclesiastes 3:11