So I made the mistake of clicking on the video posted by Elliot Rodger. In case that name does not ring a bell, Elliot is the young man who decided to travel to Santa Barbara last Friday, May 23rd, the day he referred to as “The Day of Retribution,” and execute as many young women and co-eds as possible. Before taking his own life Elliot fatally stabbed his three roommates and gunned down two young women and another young man in Isla Vista. Six young, promising lives snuffed out on one man’s desire to repay society for the injustices he claimed to suffer. In a YouTube video, the last he ever posted, he shared his hatred for women because in all of his 22 years not one young woman ever responded positively to his romantic or physical advances. He lamented in his loneliness and apparent jealously for others finding companionship with someone of the opposite sex.
While watching and listening to his rather lengthy, meandering, and misguided thoughts it became apparent that Elliot believed he was entitled to happiness and the lack of ever being with a woman caused him unhappiness. There was much more to Elliot’s video, but I could not get past this young man’s sense of entitlement. To him happiness (or lack thereof) was obviously of paramount importance, and that perceived happiness could only be found in the conquest of any woman who would respond to his advances. Mind you this was a young man who seemed to experience a fairly lavish lifestyle. His parents were both involved in the Hollywood entertainment machine; he walked red carpets, rubbed elbows with celebrities, drove a BMW. From an outsider’s point of view he seemingly had a lot going for him. But he was not happy and in his mind he deserved to be. So in his mind, because he was not any, all, and every woman must pay.
So, was Eliott correct in his belief that he deserved to be happy? Really, does anyone deserve to be happy? Is happiness in life the end goal of the human existence? Did God put humans on earth for the sole reason to find and experience happiness? I do not know if Elliot believed in God or not, but it seems safe to presume that his spiritual beliefs notwithstanding, he believed happiness was the prized goal of human existence and source of worth.
So, is it? Is God’s purpose for our lives ultimately measured in our individual happiness? Did Jesus leave his father’s side, come to earth, experience life as a human being, and die a horrific death, so you and I can be happy?
No. At least that’s not the message I get when I read the New Testament.
Happiness is something we as humans get to enjoy. To Elliot’s point happiness may be found within the relationship with a person of the opposite gender. However, Jesus tells us happiness is found in a life well lived in accordance to God’s will (Matthew 25:21ff) and in the repentance from sin (2 Corinthians 7:9). In the Old Testament men and women were happy in the birth of a child, a victory in battle, and God’s deliverance and protection from calamity. Clearly happiness can and should be experienced, but it is not our ultimate goal in life.
Even though the announcement of Jesus’ birth was a joyful announcement (Luke 2:10) he did not come to make anyone happy; he came ultimately to make us holy (see Ephesians 4:24; 2 Timothy 1:8-10). Hebrews 12:14 encourages all who believe to, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (NIV).” Notice what this verse does not say, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be happy; without happiness no one will see the Lord.” Our happiness is very much dependent upon our external circumstances, but our holiness is dependent upon Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and the resulting grace therein. This is why the apostle Peter, who was one of Jesus’ best earthly friends, could write, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16).”
The clarion call of the gospel message is to a life of holiness made possible only in a life with Jesus Christ. In fact, once we find our way to come to grips with God’s ultimate desire for us is holiness and we begin to live our lives under the authority of God through Jesus as revealed through the Holy Spirit then and only then will we experience true happiness; that happiness that is unencumbered by our external circumstances.
Do not fall for the lie that happiness is the key to life. It is not. Jesus did not emerge on the scene in order to make people happy. He emerged to bring them life; life eternal and abundant. He came to offer lost souls a new, better way than the world offers. He came to demonstrate that there is so much more to life than what we currently know and experience. He came to make you holy so life as you know it has purpose and your destiny is firm and secure in the hands of a faithful, just God.
Happiness is great. I admit, I long to be happy. I like to make people happy. But, when the pursuit of happiness supersedes one’s pursuit of holiness it can and will only lead to destruction. Unfortunately last week we all saw that play out. One man’s unstoppable pursuit of individual happiness drove him de-value the lives of women in general and to destroy any human life that crossed his misguided path.
Seek holiness and find true happiness.
5/27/2014 09:43:04 am
I agree with your point that people seem dangerously entitled to personal happiness. Be it through sexual conquest, wealth, or fame, all such roads eventually lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and personal darkness.
5/27/2014 11:00:55 am
Thank you for writing this Jeremy. It is getting so hard to understand the thinking of these people, not that I can even now. But it helps to see a viewpoint from someone I respect. I guess praying is the most we can do in the face of the "whys/"
5/27/2014 02:27:32 pm
As I watch and read excerpts from his videos I continue to be struck by the incredible pain that resulted from what I can only describe as a very ego-centric mentality. It's clear that he was deeply troubled, but I can't help but look at the countless influences in my own life that try to convince me that everything exists for my joy, my pleasure, my happiness.
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