Crime Is A Moral Problem

Cutting Edge Magazine 
October 1991
Tom Terry

What causes more people to solve their conflicts with deadly force? During 1990, a report by the Justice Department outlined the trends in crime from the previous year. Some types of crime were up, some were down. What the Justice Department did not emphasize in its report was something this report noticed. Crimes for “things” decreased. Crimes to “hurt others” increased. Crimes with no purpose but to physically harm others increased by 10 percent. Crimes Involving theft to acquire something belonging to someone else. or cause damage to those things decreased. Property crime went down by one percent. Burglary decreased by four percent. Larceny stayed level.

It would seem that the more violent emotions are getting out of control. However, anger, is not a factor in many violent crimes. Drive-by shootings, gang warfare, shooting sprees and the like, don’t have “personal” vengeance as their core motivation. What used to be a crime of passion has become a crime of fashion—killing for fun.

Congressional liberals have cited the most recent report and others to support their positions on gun control. By reversing the second amendment right to bear arms and making more powerful firearms hard to acquire, it is said that these more violent crimes will decrease. It is a false assumption. The same report from the FBI says only one percent of all homicides are committed with semiautomatic rifles. What many citizens are not aware of is that many ordinary pistols are legally classified as semiautomatic weaponry. Passage of such legislation would restrict a lot more than just big guns that can blow bullets through walls. If the possession of firearms is the cause, or a motivating force behind more violent crimes like murder, then why hasn’t less violent crime also increased? Since guns make murder easy, wouldn’t they also make other crimes easier, thus contributing to an increase of equal if not larger proportions than violent crimes? Clearly that is not the case.

For hundreds of years Americans have been carrying guns. But people didn’t begin shooting each other like a carnival game until the last 30 years. So guns aren’t really the problem, are they?

Jesus Christ defined our problems in terns of what we think. If we lust, we commit adultery in the heart. If we look at one another with hatred and anger, we murder in the heart. If we covet, we are thieves in the heart. The only thing that keeps us from committing the acts buried deep within our hearts is the ability to control ourselves. To bridle our passions with a knowledge of right and wrong and the desire to do right for the sake of right is part of the answer to rising crime. When television makes revenge look cool, when education refuses to address behaviors as morally right or wrong, when popular music reflects rebellion, when parents abdicate their children’s minds to the present techno/liberation culture, then a rise in violent crime is to be expected.

As a nation we are coming to a violent crossroads. We sympathize if a poor man steals for food. We chastise the man who steals for a living. We revile the person who murders at a passionate moment. But these kinds of crimes are decreasing. Crime for the sake of committing the crime, crimes for fun—for the fun of killing, and the fun of hurting—these are the crimes on the increase. We not only could care less about whether something is right or wrong, the wrongness of something is becoming irrelevant. So, it’s wrong, so what? Let’s do it anyway.

To solve our crime problems, we need a dramatic return to the values Jesus taught—as dramatic as our rate of murder.