Here we focus on the two primary causes that contribute to violence.
How do you explain the growing crime and violence in our world? The senseless street killings, rape and assault in so-called civilized societies? Why has the rate of violence surged skyward during the unparalleled prosperity of the post World War II period? And much of it is not between strangers but in family units between husbands and wives, parents and children or between social acquaintances. Child abuse, mate beating, suicide and murder — violence in all its forms — now is the United States' No. I public health problem, says U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Coop. But he laments that criminologists and sociologists are confused as to why.
Do You Know?
No significant genetic, chromosomal or hormonal differences can be shown to exist between those who frequently commit violent and aggressive assaults and those who do not. Medical examinations admit that organic defects, at most, account for only a negligible portion of human aggression. Violent physical and verbal assault can be found in all classes — in upper-class white collar levels as well as in downtrodden ghettos. And confounding the experts further, numbers of societies — some poverty stricken by Western standards — experience low levels of crime and violence. Why have the sciences of sociology and criminology failed to discover the root causes of violent behavior and the nature of human nature? Because they have rejected the Source that reveals those causes! They are not able to recognize or are unwilling to face the reasons why human nature is what it is!
First Cause of Aggression and Violence
There was a definite beginning of violence and aggression. How many today believe the scripture, "He who commits sin is of the devil" (I John 3:8, RSV)? The Bible reveals the originator of sin — of hate, conquest, aggression and murder. This great spirit being, an archangel, was named Lucifer in Latin. The name means Lightbringer. This being was put over the earth by the Creator to administer the government of God. But he wasn't satisfied with his high position. He wanted the top position of power and riches for himself. He reasoned the "get" way — get for self even if it means taking away from or hurting others — was the way to acquire what he wanted. God's laws, by contrast, are based on love, concern and respect for others. But Lucifer began to reason the way of love wasn't the best way. Lust perverted his mind. "You [Lucifer] were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity [lawlessness] was found in you," reveals God in Ezekiel 28:15 (RAV). Lucifer decided to be a competitor with God. "I will make myself like the Most High," he said (Isa. 14:14, RSV). Lucifer was able to draw away one third of God's angels with him in his ultimate rebellion (see Revelation 12:4). He did it through subtle defaming of God's character, God's laws and purposes. Lucifer, his name now changed to Satan, meaning "Adversary," attempted by aggression and conquest to boot God off his throne over the universe. But Satan miscalculated the awesome power of God. He and his violence-bent army of angels, now demons, were flung back down to earth. "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven," said Jesus (Luke 10:18). Jesus said Satan was a murderer from the beginning of his rebellion — and the father of lies (John 8:44). Jesus also warned that human beings from birth could allow Satan's attitudes of deceit, lying, false accusation, hate, lust and rebellion to enter their minds if they permitted it (see verses 38, 41 , 44, same chapter). How many today have been taught or know that an invisible spirit being is broadcasting wrong attitudes throughout the atmosphere into the minds of unsuspecting humanity? A humanity that in many instances does not even believe a devil exists. How many realize humans in varying degrees have absorbed Satan's attitudes into their minds? Some individuals and cultures absorb more than others. There are reasons why! Scripture reveals Satan has deceived and influenced the whole world with his corrupt attitudes. Read it for yourself in Revelation 12:9. Yet, many today deny the existence of the very source of evil that sways their minds into wrong feelings and reasonings.
Satan Broadcasts His Attitudes
Notice what the Bible says about Satan's deception. Writing to converted Ephesian Christians, the apostle Paul mentions why they were once spiritually dead because of the sins "in which you once walked" (Eph. 2:2, RSV). They had been "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." Grasp that! Satan can broadcast his evil nature and attitudes through the air and unsuspecting human minds can pick up such moods and attitudes, nourish them and develop them as a very part of their human nature. "Among these [children of disobedience] we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind," continues verse 3. What are the "passions of the flesh" that come from yielding or following Satan's ways? "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness [physical and moral], licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders [hatred is the spirit of murder — I John 3:15], drunkenness, revelries, and the like ... " (Gal. 5:19-21, RAV).
Spectrum of Violence
Notice the attitudes and acts just described. They are common not only to many who are violence prone but to noncriminal citizens who don't always do right. "All have sinned," says a scripture (Rom. 3:23). Sin is defined in your Bible as the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4). But in humans there are differences in the types of aggression and severity of violence individuals will allow in their lives. There are differences in human responses to situations and stimuli that trigger anger and aggression. There are differences in emotional self-control. Humans, from training, or from unfortunate personal experiences or from Satan's invisible influence on their minds, learn to hate other persons. The objects of their ill feeling may be those of their own race or of other races or nations. They also learn to be aggressive and intolerant when certain obstacles, challenges or threats to self-image or security arise. God created the human mind with capacity for anger and aggressiveness and love and mercy. There can be anger and aggressiveness that's not sinful (Eph. 4:26) — to resist evil and to overcome personal weaknesses of character or to overcome obstacles to development. Just as there can also be misdirected love and mercy. These capacities can be misused when wrong social values or wrong moods or attitudes are allowed to take root. Uncontrolled anger and aggression or tolerance for evil bear the bitter fruit of violence — physical and verbal. Experiments by social scientists have induced aggressive behavior in human beings by stimulating certain areas of the brain with electricity. They have discovered aggression needs a stimulus. What they admit they don't understand are the underlying factors that can stimulate aggressive responses. Differing cultures, and individuals within those cultures, develop different triggers and sensitivities. Some societies culturally tolerate, or even expect, acts of aggression under certain circumstances — not only in warfare but in personal social circumstances. We may call it the macho culture. Other cultures, for religious or social reasons, discourage such expression through heavy social stigma or swift punishment. Such societies can limit the influence of Satan's influence even though they may not understand his existence. Growing crime and violence are a measure of the increasing lack of respect and concern citizens of a society have for others. Through permissive child rearing, through wrong social and peer influences, or outright rebellion, youths and adults open their minds to more of Satan's attitudes than do those of other cultures who exercise restraint and better judgment. The apostle Paul warned Christians of the primary source of the harmful attitudes ignored by most today: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers ... against wicked spirits in high places" (Eph. 6:12, AV, margin).
The Second Cause-Physiological Factors
Yet it is also important to recognize that physiological factors may be involved in sensitivity to aggressive or irritable moods. Some persons with strong emotional temperament or high mental physical energy levels may be quicker to respond to irritating situations with anger or aggression. They need to learn to develop more self-control. Also, the state of the neural systems that transmit the signals that govern aggressive behavior can be altered by the health and chemical balance of an individual. Changes in blood chemistry influence the sensitivity of the aggression system. Studies have shown that changes in hormone levels from premenstrual periods (in women) or from stress can alter moods and make one more susceptible to irritation. Inappropriate use of drugs, alcohol and other ingested chemical compounds can alter a person's control of emotions and feelings. Certain chemicals reduce control of inhibitions. Or make a person's nervous system more irritable. Humans differ in their responses to drugs and the presence of chemicals in their environment. Some health conditions such as hypoglycemia or food or chemical allergies can alter metabolism and blood sugar levels and affect emotional and mental self-control. Such persons may need to seek professional help to learn what physical factors in their diet or environment need to be changed to help control their mental and emotional state of mind. The sciences are regularly learning more about such physical factors. Yet while man's physical knowledge rapidly increases, his troubles double. Now, in the nuclear age, all human life is threatened with the ultimate violence — extinction. The Bible reveals how mankind jumped the track into this tragic state of human affairs.
The Sin That Led to Criminal Behavior
In Genesis, chapter 2, we read that Adam was taught essential knowledge by God. He could freely eat of every tree in the garden of Eden, but — there was a special warning" the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it" (verses 16-17). Few understand that Adam was given an opportunity to administer God's government and to replace Satan as ruler over the earth. In Genesis, chapter 3, we read how Adam failed the test by yielding to and following his wife, Eve. She decided to believe Satan's lies that God misrepresented what was good and evil. Satan, appearing as a serpent, injected into her mind the idea that God had not told the whole truth. Eve rationalized, like so many do today, that what God said wasn't reliable. Adam and Eve both chose to take what was not theirs. They rebelled against God's commands and decided they would experiment to determine for themselves what is right and wrong-what is good and evil. For their hostile, rebellious act God drove them from the garden of Eden. He cut them and their progeny off from contact with God, except as God chose to intervene and reveal himself to a select few. God allowed humans to go their own way since that is what they wanted to do. He has allowed humans 6,000 years to experiment under Satan's sway-and see the results. Man has developed his own systems of government, his own religions, laws and morality based on what he thought was right and good. Men and nations are still deciding for themselves. They are still experimenting with all kinds of ideas of how to solve intractable problems apart from divinely revealed knowledge. Now look at a critical lesson in emotional control and personal responsibility from the first two children raised in this world under essentially the same environment, parentally and culturally.
A Lesson in Self-control
In Genesis, chapter 4, we read that Cain and Abel — Adam and Eve's first children-each brought an offering to God. We learn from Scripture that Abel was "righteous" (Matt. 23:35). Abel disciplined his mind and character. He feared and submitted to God. Abel resisted the influence of Satan. He saw what happened to his parents and chose to resist similar evil attitudes and actions. But Cain let a different attitude, spirit and outlook take root in his mind. He wasn't living right. That's why his offering was not accepted by, God. Cain became indignant against God. Notice what God said to him: "'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'" (Gen. 4:6-7, RAV). Cain was face to face with why he had a wrong attitude. He was not told by the Creator that his lack of educational surroundings was justification for his evil attitude. He was not told he was in no way responsible for his attitudes. He was told it was his responsibility to master and control wrong impulses or evil influences of mind, whatever the source. Cain's poverty was not material or physical; it was spiritual. Too many today are like Cain. They excuse their failure to live uprightly. They do not resist evil thoughts and practices. They blame others for their feelings. Cain chose not to resist the attitudes Satan was pumping at his mind. He built a habit of resentment. He soon rose up and murdered his brother, Abel. This is how crime and violence among men began! Scripture warns us today to avoid being "like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous" (I John 3:12, RSV).
Some personalities let themselves be more responsive to Satan's wavelength. We are each responsible for guarding the doors of our mind! "Train up a child in the way he should go," commands the Bible, "and when he is old he will not depart from it." "Discipline your son while there is hope . . ." (Prov. 22:6 and 19:18, RSV). Sound child rearing is not merely punishment or dealing with childhood infractions. It is positive, yet firm instruction in right values and attitudes, coupled with much expression of' love and affection, along with proper discipline. Some youthful personalities need more guidance than others. But parents are not the only bulwark against criminal and violent behavior. Misbehavior and evil actions should be quickly recognized and dealt with appropriately in all levels of society. Today, however, we witness loss of respect for law and enforcement. Why? "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11, RAV). When increasing numbers of humans reject their responsibility to be accountable to God and society for their actions, crime, violence and aggression increase. This is precisely what your Bible prophesied for the days in which you are now living. You can read this cause and effect relationship in II Timothy 3:1-5. From the beginning God has revealed the causes of evils and of how we ought to live. He also reveals the good news that Satan is going to be forcibly thrust from his role of god and deceiver of this world. Jesus Christ is coming to restore the government of God over the earth and change human nature. Meanwhile, in today's world you need spiritual weapons — spiritual help — to counteract the power of Satan. "For the weapons of [a true Christian's] warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds [of Satan's attitudes and temptations]" (II Cor. 10:4). "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," reveals James 4:7. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," says I Peter 5:8. Are you vigilant? Are you in contact with God for the spiritual help you need?