“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dylann Roof was sentenced to death yesterday for the murder of nine innocent people. It’s possible that he could be sentenced to death again in the future if found guilty in his federal trial. Does he deserve to be killed for what he did? Most of us would say yes. Is it our place to kill him? I would say no. That’s God’s call and God’s call alone.
Let’s talk about what we deserve.
I don’t deserve what I have in this life. I won the lottery jackpot when I was born to parents who loved me and had the capacity to provide everything from new shoes to braces to summer vacations. They had the emotional and psychological abilities that caused me to attach to them in a healthy way so that I could connect with other people easily. They encouraged me to get a college education and they supported me financially as much as they could. And because of those early years, I had other opportunities that paved the way for me. And I was born with white skin in the United States of America – an enormous advantage.
I have made life mistakes that might have capsized a different person’s life. I have fallen short of the glory of God in some ways that everyone knows and in some ways that only God knows. I do not deserve what I have in this life.
But by grace I have been saved – and not merely in cosmic, eternal terms. Grace saves me every day.
Dylann Roof committed an evil. ignorant, unspeakable, punk crime. He deserves to die for this crime. Not one of his victims’ family members should have to have endured what they endured over the past months and days. But killing him is not our call.
And allowing the government to kill someone in our name ruins us as human beings just a little bit. Or a lot.
Image of the victims of the June 17, 2015 shooting in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC: Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54) – Bible study member and manager for the Charleston County Public Library system; Susie Jackson (87) – a Bible study and church choir member.Ethel Lee Lance (70) – the church’s sexton; Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49) – a pastor who was also employed at Southern Wesleyan University; Clementa C. Pinckney (41) – the church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator; Tywanza Sanders (26) – a Bible study member; Daniel Simmons (74) – a pastor who also served at Greater Zion AME Church in Awendaw, SC; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45) – a pastor; also a speech therapist and track coach at Goose Creek High School; Myra Thompson (59) – a Bible study teacher.
Quote from the sermon “Loving Your Enemies” (Strength to Love, 1963)