On Monday, April 16, 2007, a student on the Virginia Tech campus went on a shooting rampage and killed 32 students before turning his gun on himself. On Monday, 33 lives were suddenly brought to an end.
The shooter was a senior English major of South Korean descent. He was a resident alien, and had been in the U.S. since he was 12 years old. He had been ostracized by his peers, become a loaner, and drawn attention from his teachers for his particularly graphic, morbid, disturbing essays, poems, and other writings.
I wonder if Cho Seung-Hui knew any Christians. I wonder if a Holy Ghost filled, Jesus name Apostolic had ever been in a class with him, or walked across campus with him, or eaten lunch with him, or had coffee with him. I wonder if any Christians had ever told Cho, "Jesus loves you. He died for your sins, Cho. He came that you might have life more abundant." I wonder if any Christians ever avoided Cho because he was different, or weird, or unpopular, or a little inaccessible.
Is there a Cho Seung-Hui on my campus? Is there a Cho in any of my classes? Do I know anyone who is pondering suicide, or is bound by depression or alcoholism or chronic drug abuse? Am I so wrapped up in myself that I'm unable or unwilling to or incapable of seeing the needs of the desperate souls?
I had an epiphany as I thought about these tragedies. I deserve to go to hell. In fact, no one deserves to go to heaven. Every single person on this earth, or who has ever been on this earth, from Adam to Moses to King David to John the Baptist to Peter to Paul to Hitler to Nathaniel Urshan to Paul Mooney to myself deserves to go to hell. What makes me different than Hitler? Nothing. We're both sinners. What separates Jim Sleeva from Timothy McVeigh? Not a thing. They both deserve to rot in hell. No one has ever done a thing to merit heaven.
The only way to get to heaven is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice and victory over sin gives all those who enter into His covenant eternal life. No sin is more or less bad in God's eyes - all sins lead to death. Therefore, if God can forgive the least of all sins, He can forgive the greatest of all sins. There is no sinner alive who is beyond the grace of God; only once a person ceases to live can he fall beyond repentance.
It is for this reason that I oppose any form of capital punishment. The human life is too precious to be snuffed out prematurely. So long as there is life, there is hope for grace and repentance. Who am I to forbid a man any moment of life where he may find repentance?