Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Evil and Its Motivation



Whenever we experience a tragedy like that at Sandy Hook, we ask ourselves, what could motivate the perpetrator. Was it mental illness? Was it just another manifestation of man's incorrigible nature as we have been taught religiously?


Are acts we might consider evil the result of the behavior of willfully and knowingly evil minds or the result of a mind which sees that "evil" as a justified act of righteous indignation or retribution? This may seem an unimportant difference in determining how we react to what we perceive as evil, but I think it is actually vitally significant to that response.


If we are candid and honest with ourselves, I suspect that most would admit that, when angry, our minds can justify all manner of violence against the cause of that anger. I certainly have experienced that mental justification process. If that tendency is noted and duly considered, then I think we are led to conclude that in resorting to violence in response to feeling angry or fearful, any of us could end up doing something which could later be viewed by others as irrational and disproportionate. Perhaps this is why Jesus condemned anger as equal to murder in the Sermon on the Mount.


The question of the motivation behind perceived evil should lead us to ask whether society's insistence on retributive violence against evil provides the mental process by which the evil behavior we perceive in others is justified by them. Assuming that violent force is the only logical and therefore proper response to evil, guarantees that anyone raised under that assumption will be able to establish their own, personal right to violence, even if others perceive it as evil. One man's righteous retributive response is always another man's atrocity, flip sides to the same moral argument.