Our Love Affair with Violence


We are a culture with a strong affinity for violence.  Look at our sports and see if it isn’t so.  The debate on guns is only a side aspect of this insatiable interest.  We have an incredible appetite as a society for violent stories, games, movies, and television shows.  What does it say about us, as a culture, that two of the most popular TV shows are one in which zombies eat people who are only stopped by the most violent means or a medeval fantasy which is ever so rich with blood flowing?  Walk into a video game store and see how many games are devoted to killing in some manner or form.  Think of the number of television shows that revolve around rapes and murders.  Walk through Barnes and Nobles and see how many books you can find on the top seller list that do not deal with some kind of violence.  

Jesus taught us that what is in our heads is as important as what we do.  My opening questions are: where does this hunger originate for violence?  What are we really trying to feed as we gulp down the ravenous portions of violence?  What is it about violence that fascinates us?  Why do we find it so – entertaining?

What do you think?  Do we need to change this?  How can we change this?

Until next time,



11 thoughts on “Our Love Affair with Violence

  1. Sure is a complicated issue and no one cause can be blamed.

    I do not believe the video games are the major problem. When I was growing up we played cowboys/army/gangsters, etc. with play guns – difference was we did not act out our games, just as the majority today do not. In my opinion one major factor among the many is lax and gutless parenting that give in to the seemingly innocent whims of children which escalate as they grow up. You can see this in schools, churches, and many other institutions. Parents want the kids to be involved in all manner of activities but do not spend time with them to reinforce the positive values that school, recreation groups, scouts, youth groups, etc. provide. That is left up to the leaders of those organizations.

    What can we do? Try to save one kid at a time. There are many, many really good kids out there that will be running things in the future. I feel good about the future generation being able to run things – it is just unfortunate that a few bad apples ruin the rest of the story for the others. Nothing new – it’s been that way forever since Cain and Able and Moses.

    Speaking of violence – things were pretty violent in Biblical days and throughout history. Lots of thieves, lots of beatings, lots of stoning, beheading, crucifixions, lions, and so forth. Our own Christian faith has had its violent moments in the name of the church. So this is nothing new – just new ways to do harm. I think things are not nearly as violent as we think – the internet, Facebook, twitter, and 24-hour news just constantly throws it in our faces.

    If we let God deal with it and we try to do our part – I have to believe that things will improve.

    1. I agree that it is most complicated and that, as you note toward the end, it has been going on since Biblical times shows you how rooted it is in our nature.

      I also agree that the video games, or the movies, or the tv shows (etc) are not the problem, they are all a symptom.

      And I agree with have to solve it one kid at a time. But I do believe the church is going to have to be more and more counter cultural to make a difference. One of the big problems today is if Mr. Smith is a believer and Mr. Jones does not, there often isn’t a great deal of difference in the way Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones are living today (or what they are watching, reading, or playing).

      We have to encourage folks to take in better input than the average person is getting in our society today.

      Thanks for the comments Chuck,


      1. I think violence is a display of power and ultimately an attempt at enforcement of the will. Our basic will is to survive, and we ”fight” in many ways to ensure it. I think if we extrapolate from fighting for survival all the way through our more complex situations in life, it provides a natural explanation for why we fight and compete over most things. Violence used to determine who ran the tribe, who survived attackers, and who caught the food. The threat of violence also prevented usurpers, law breakers, attackers, and offered a sense of protection. I understand there are negative aspects too, but I think these other reason are partly why we value it. Even the image of angels with fiery swords at the gates of Eden inspires awe, respect, and fear at the same time. God, it seems, is partly the source and inspiration. We are made with violence in our DNA, and I think that’s ok to some extent. However, it begs the same treatment we give to fire, anger, and other sources and expressions of power.

        Perhaps some ”playing” with violence through reading,watching shows, or gaming is a form of catharsis or even a way to learn about or experience that part of our humanity without evil intent or hurting others.

  2. Hi Tom!

    Thanks for raising this question in this way!

    Are you familair with the work of Rene Girard? Girardian theology (and anthropolgy) provde the best answers to this from a Christian context. You can get a good introduction from Paul Nuechterlein’s Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary, which may be found on the Text This Week.com. He has an introductory essay, plus another overview called “My Core Convictions.” Again, this is the most insightful understanding of violence I have ever encountered! It puts the cross and resurrection in a whole new light.

    Blessings and Peace,
    John Blewitt

  3. During my teaching career, I saw the accepted thought of violence do a 180 turn. I was greatly disturbed when I saw children gradually change their response to any conflict. The violent response has become the accepted choice. This is what concerns me the most. Our culture has a big job ahead if they will ever have a social atmosphere of respect. We have got to replace the gangs with the churchl. We are living in a world that is highly influenced by the gang mentality instead of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Did we take all that we had for granted and become so complacent that our Christian values are now in the background?

  4. you really dont have to go too far in the bible to see that violence is a part of human nature. Its all over the new and old testament. A better question is what can we do different that the leaders of the past have not done?

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