Islamist terrorist, Omar Mateen, is responsible for the deaths of 49 people and the wounding of 53, some of whom are still struggling for their lives in critical condition. The Orlando community and the families of victims are in our prayers. The shooting is one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history. Law enforcement is working hard to piece together the facts.
For now, the investigation is focusing, interestingly, on Omar’s wife, Noor. Why? Because investigators want to know what she knew and when she knew it. They believe, at the very least, that she was aware the attack would take place and did nothing to stop it. In fact, a federal grand jury will likely be convened to consider bringing charges.
In America, we have several laws that require us to say or do something when we think a crime may be committed. And those laws aren’t a new idea. As far back as the days of Moses, those who had foreknowledge of a crime or witnessed any aspect of a crime, were required to tell the authorities. And they were culpable, whether complicit or complacent.
For example, Leviticus 5:1 told the Israelites, “If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.” Certainly, the “if you see something, say something” world we live in today would require us all to let the authorities know if we are aware of an impending terrorist act.
But the New Testament principle reminds us of our greater responsibility. James writes, “to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Knowing that mass murder of civilians is wrong shouldn’t take much thought. At the very least, regardless of radical Jihadist beliefs, one ought to know that murder is against the law!
So Omar’s wife is being investigated. And if, as it appears, she knew beforehand, she will likely be held responsible in some way. And my guess is that most people would agree that she would deserve punishment if she did know. In fact, you might get very angry at the idea that someone could know of impending doom and say nothing.
But I wonder if we, as Christians, see the larger context and implications of such an idea. What if we are aware, what if we are witnesses, what if we have special knowledge of a coming disaster that will take out millions, possibly billions of people? And what if we do nothing and say nothing?
Will God ignore our complacency? It is worthy of consideration. Let’s remember our primary mission: preach the gospel…in season and out of season…warn others and let them know of the available salvation in Christ. Like the hymn says, we don’t ever want to be in the position where someone could say, “you never mentioned Him to me.”
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)