Does God Wish Adam Lanza Had Never Been Born?
We all watched the news in horror on December 14, 2012 as details emerged about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The man who unleashed his fury on innocent schoolchildren and the people who taught and protected them was soon identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Perhaps no one watched with greater horror than his family. Last week, his father, Peter Lanza, spoke out for the first time about his son and the atrocities he committed.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Lanza made a number of statements about Adam, including revealing the depth of his mental state as the years progressed and that he had not spoken to his son in the two years prior to the incident. In the most startling quote, and the one that has received the most press, he said he wished his son had never been born. The article states:
Peter declared that he wished Adam had never been born, that there could be no remembering who he was outside of who he became.
Usually, when we hear that phrase—"wish you'd never been born"—it comes as dramatic threat, like a line from a movie. But this time, with 20 kids and seven adults murdered by Adam in cold blood, we get the sense the Peter Lanza actually means those words, that he wishes he could take back his son's life.
On the one hand, we think of the parent-child relationship and our defenses rise: How could he say something like that? Doesn't he love his son? On the other, maybe his response is justified. Adam Lanza attacked children, the most vulnerable members of our society. He was not a good man by any means. The depth of this father's grief is unimaginable to most of us. While the recent interview may be part of processing the tragedy, Peter Lanza will likely remain in a state of grief, pain, and regret over what has happened for years to come.
Still, as Christians, when we hear a statement that expresses regret over a person's very life, it should give us pause. Should we regret a person's existence? Does a particular sin, as atrocious as it is, warrant wishing he'd never been born? Or to quote Adam Lanza's father, can you separate a person's final actions, however horrible they may be, from who they were their entire lives?
There is biblical precedent for such a desire, for wishing someone had not been born. In fact, even God himself has made such a statement. Early in Genesis, right before the flood, the evil of humanity was running wild. God looked upon his creation was "sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart" (Gen. 6:6, ESV). Even Jesus makes a similar statement regarding Judas, saying that having never been born would actually be better than the coming judgment on his betrayer (Matt. 26:24).
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