The Word — New laws are not enough

Published 4:59 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

The brokenness of our world has become painfully obvious for all of us recently. On May 14, a young man walked into a Tops Supermarket outside of Buffalo, New York and killed 10 people. Ten days later a young man killed his grandmother and then walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where he killed 19 children and two adults. From May 14 to June 8, there have been 58 mass shootings in our country. There is no doubt that something is terribly wrong.

These horrific events rouse people to action and they should. Some want to restrict access to the guns that are being used. Others blame the problem on a mental health crisis. It is encouraging to see lawmakers working together on a solution. While we should search for answers and new laws may offer some benefit, none of these go far enough because we refuse to acknowledge our inherent brokenness.

God’s Word is clear. King David cries, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) Jeremiah proclaims, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) In Romans 3:12 Paul writes, “No one does good, not even one.” Every one of us is born in sin and struggles with sin every day.

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The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought they could solve the problem by creating new laws. They added 613 to the 10 commandments and it didn’t solve the problem. When Jesus is asked why his disciples didn’t wash their hands in accordance with Jewish traditions Jesus offers this explanation. “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:17-20) Simply put, we have a sin problem in our heart.

In Luke 13:1-3 Jesus was asked about a similarly horrific event that occurred in his day. The questioners wanted to know if that “mass shooting” happened because of a mental health crisis or missing laws. Jesus said, “No, I tell you; unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The only answer to the brokenness of our hearts (and the world) is to turn to the one who took our sin to the cross and died for it so that we no longer need to be a slave to the sin that is at work in our hearts. (Romans 6:6-7) So that you can rise to new life in Christ. So that you can be a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus is the only real answer.

Rev. Matthew Sorenson is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at