The Boston Marathon bombings and the image of God

People embrace during a candlelight service at Arlington Street Church in Boston on Tuesday that honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. (PHOTOl Reuters/Shannon Stapleton).
People embrace during a candlelight service at Arlington Street Church in Boston on Tuesday that honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. (PHOTOl Reuters/Shannon Stapleton).

By Joseph G. Mattera — Originally published in Charisma News

[notice]A New York church leader reflects on the root cause behind incidents like the terror attack on Monday in which  two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 170, including two South African spectators.[/notice]

In light of the horrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, many pundits on both sides of the aisle are voicing their opinion regarding the root cause of the incessant societal violence we face. One of the more salient liberal responses came from stand-up comedian Jay Mohr, who tweeted Monday night, “What bothers me most about today is that we’re getting used 2 it. ENOUGH. 2nd amendment must go. Violence has 2 stop. Culture MUST change.”

Blaming guns, though, overlooks the fact that the Second Amendment has been part of our nation since its founding—so the change in culture this actor alludes to has to have been birthed out of something that changed in the past generation (which is obviously not the Second Amendment).

Genesis 9:6
In my opinion, Genesis 9:6 gives us the root cause of our culture of violence. It says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (ESV).

Essentially, this passage is teaching us that when we shed human blood, it is a direct attack on our Creator because humankind is made in the image of God. (Read Genesis 1:26-27.) This is why human murder is so serious.

Consequently, the more we remove God from the public square, the more respect for human dignity as the highest form of all creation is diminished, because God’s image and respect for human life are inextricably connected.

Furthermore, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, it pushed our nation as far from the biblical worldview and image of God as possible and desensitized society to the shedding of innocent human blood. Jesus called His followers the “salt of the earth” in Matthew 5:13 because the church has been commissioned by Jesus to disciple nations as His representatives (Matt. 28:19). Since salt acts as a preservative, the more society marginalizes Christianity and Scripture, the more likely society will self-destruct because the basis for valuing human life is found in the teachings of Scripture (John 3:16). Even Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we have all been endowed with the unalienable rights given to us by our Creator!

You can get rid of all the guns in the world, but until humanity connects itself back to the image of God, people will continue to abort babies and find ways to degrade and murder their own until whole societies and people groups collapse under the weight of their own sin.

The only way to reverse this culture of death is to move our nation back toward its Judeo-Christian roots and to embrace a high value of Scripture in public schools and homes. Only then will narcissism and the self-centered ideals that objectify fellow humans be eradicated from mainstream culture so that young people will value loving their neighbor as they love themselves as one of their highest ideals in life.

  • Joseph G. Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, NY.


  1. Absolutely right on target! I have been saying for years that the increased violence we face in our nation is due to her moral decline and cannot be remedied by taking away the basic rights outlined in our constitution. How can we expect our children to know good from evil when our own government declares it to be wrong to use the Bible, perhaps man’s greatest testament to good, in schools? How can we expect the generations to follow to understand the Christian heritage of our great country if we ban public displays of historical Christian documents? It has been said that all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. Isn’t it time for Christians everywhere to raise their voices in unison and proclaim, “I will no longer stand by and remain quiet as evil seeks to rule our country”. I for one proudly say, “God Bless America!”

  2. When John Wimber and his ‘power evangelism’ team finally came to South Africa in 1988, the Nasrec Center in Johannesburg was filled with thousands of church leaders from almost every denomination eager to tap into what God was doing through the Vineyard movement at that time. In Wimber’s opening address at that week long conference, he said that they had delayed coming to this country until they had received a very clear word from God to come. Their concern he said, was that the “anointing to heal and perform miracles might be released upon racists”. I was astounded by this comment, not because I disagreed with his debatable theology, but because I felt he had wrongly discerned the mostly white people represented in that conference. We were all Spirit filled Christians after all, hungry for God’s will, not racists. Racists were people who voted for the National Party. A couple of weeks after this conference, and with Wimber’s opening remarks still much in my thoughts, I eventually got it. Up until then I had lived in three major SA cities, and had attended or visited many of the leading and popular churches in those cities but had never once heard a preacher condemn racism or apartheid. I had even attended many church leader’s conferences around the country, and had never once heard racism or apartheid mentioned from either the podium or around a cup of coffee. Maybe the more liberal churches were talking about our country’s glaringly obvious wound back then, but the evangelical and charismatic churches were largely not saying much. For most of us charismatic and evangelical people, racism was something other people did, and apartheid was part of our country’s culture! Thankfully, our Christian brothers and sisters around the world did not just see a culture, they also saw a demonic stronghold of lies, and they challenged us. They challenged us not because we ourselves were racists (most of us in that Wimber conference were probably not), they challenged us because we had believed the lie that this was our culture, and therefore this was who we were. I concur with Bishop Mattera’s sentiments and conclusions regarding abortion, and the “shedding of human blood” when it comes to the unborn, but would remind him that this is a world wide evil and problem, not peculiar to the USA. Abortion is ‘pandemic’ throughout Europe and amongst most first world countries, but it is the USA that stands head and shoulders above them all when it comes to the death of innocent human lives through the use of guns. Claims by Christian leaders in the USA that “guns are part of our culture and will therefore never change” are both astounding and horrifying to those of us who can clearly see the demonic stronghold and lies in these statements. And the lies continue. I have been closely following gun control arguments in the USA on both sides of the debate, and absolutely no-one I have heard is calling for the scrapping of the second amendment, or the right of anyone to defend themself with a gun, or even multiple guns. The opposing arguments to the current laws are merely for better background checks because nearly 40% of gun sales in the USA are made without any identification being asked. That means that even I, as a SA tourist in that country, can go to a gun show and buy a weapon of my choice without any questions being asked. The opposing arguments to current laws are also questioning the types of weapons needed for someone to defend themselves adequately. As a tourist, or as a legal or illegal USA citizen, I could also buy a semi-automatic assault rifle with a hundred bullet magazine without any questions being asked. These weapons are more sophisticated and lethal than those which some armies in Africa use. A further lie is that because it is the Democratic government who is proposing these changes, a liberal government who legalizes abortion and gay marriages, then any change they propose to the gun laws has got to be evil as well. It’s alarming that USA law enforcement officers and military personnel are subject to stringent background checks and training before they are allowed to handle a weapon, but anyone else can so easily purchase one. The Boston Marathon bombers may not have used guns with their initial heinous acts, but there is no doubt that they were emboldened by their possession of guns as their later evil deeds showed. I hope that USA citizens, particularly those who support keeping the current gun law status quo, are not fooled into self righteous complacency should these murderers be found to be influenced by some radical Jihad group. They will do well to remember that any radical or extremist group can only arm themselves if the law allows them to. Something is so terribly wrong with all this and the vast majority of Christian leaders in that country are also believing the lies, and remaining silent. If we love our Christian brothers and sisters in the USA we also have an obligation to speak the truth to them. This is not who they are, and this is not the type of army Jesus envisioned when He ushered in the Kingdom of God. When Christian leaders in the USA begin to recognise the lies they have believed and begin to see the demonic stronghold that has held them in bondage, they will also begin to truly influence politicians and society as a whole. But right now, the National Rifle Association is doing just that.