Much has been written and said in recent days about the tragic events in Orlando, Florida where a man declaring himself aligned with ISIS murdered fifty people in a gay nightclub. As important as it is to determine what happened and why, it is even more important to have a biblical perspective on such events.
In the thirteenth chapter Of Luke’s gospel, Jesus is asked about a similar tragedy in His day when Roman soldiers apparently murdered several people in the act of worship:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. – Luke 13:1
We can learn much about what our response should be to such tragedies by looking at how Jesus responded:
And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. – Luke 13:2-5
We notice two important things here:
First, we cannot draw a straight line between what happened to the men and women in Orlando and their personal sin or even the sin of homosexuality in general. Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 that death entered the world because of sin. So, at a macro level, all death is a result of sin. However, not every tragic death is the direct result of the victim’s sin. We cannot rule that out, but neither can we say definitively that God used a certain event to punish someone directly. Only God knows that. There were men and women in nightclubs all over Florida that night engaged in both homosexual and heterosexual sin who made it home safely.
Secondly, Jesus’ primary concern is with with the souls of the living. The book of Hebrews reminds us “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). We will all die whether in the prime of life as a result of tragedy or peacefully in our beds at ninety. Jesus’ point is when that time comes, unless we’ve repented and placed our trust in Him it matters not the manner of our death. If we die without Christ we will face the judgment of God and “perish” in the eternal sense.
So while I am concerned about the culture we live in and what can be done to prevent such things happening, I must remind myself that ultimately we all die and my job as a Christian is to warn the living as did Noah (II Peter 2:5) calling them to repentance lest they all likewise perish.