This past Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada, we received word of another mass shooting that took the lives of 59 people. There are no words that can adequately respond to such horrific carnage. Mass shootings in our country have become all too common, and we can never allow ourselves to become anesthetized to these killings that are taking the lives of people from all walks of life. We must begin to address these complex issues in thoughtful and meaningful ways. There are no simple solutions, but these killings continue to cast a heavy cloud over the gun violence that is rampant in America. We cannot pretend that this is not happening or that we are safe from these dangers.
As I read some of the responses by our denomination, I came across the Pacific Union Conference’s response from this past Tuesday, written by its conference president, Ricardo Graham. I want to share his comments regarding this matter:
Pacific Union Conference President Responds to Las Vegas Shooting
Oct. 2, 2017, Westlake Village, Calif.: As a church, Seventh-day Adventists reject violence and we are appalled at the tragic loss of life last night in Las Vegas. We grieve with those who have lost family and friends, and add our voice in mourning and sorrow. We stand against anyone who causes death and injury, and are heartbroken for those who are suffering such pain and anguish.
The scriptures condemn those who use violence, saying that “those who love violence, he hates with a passion” (Psalms 11:5, NIV). He says very clearly, “Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right” (Eze. 45:9, NIV).
As believers, we are called to stand for what is good and true and right, and most of all to show the love of God in the way we live. We will help those affected in their suffering, and continue to pray for all those who mourn. Instead of returning evil, we stand with all those who wish to do good. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-21, NIV).
We believe that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18, NIV). May this be true for all those grieving and saddened at this time of loss.
-Ricardo Graham, D. Min, president, Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists