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'A Sickening and Heartbreaking Sight': Four Biblical Responses to the Capitol Assault and the Promise of Redemptive Hope


The US Congress early this morning certified the Electoral College vote making Joe Biden the forty-sixth president of the United States. Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Mr. Biden’s victory at 3:41 a.m. ET.

The historic vote followed a scene I never thought I would see: the US Capitol was breached yesterday for the first time since the War of 1812. One of the protesters, a US Air Force veteran named Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed. Three other people died of what Washington Police Chief Robert Contee called “separate medical emergencies.” Fourteen officers were injured in the riots as well.

President George W. Bush called the attack “a sickening and heartbreaking sight” and stated, “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic—not our democratic republic.” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a former CIA case officer, said, “This is what we see in failing countries. This is what leads to a death of democracy.”

My purpose today is to offer biblical context on this tragic moment in our nation’s history.

One: Violence against our Capitol and electoral process must be condemned.

Scripture says of our Lord, “His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Psalm 11:5). Solomon instructed us, “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways” (Proverbs 3:31).

I watched last night on television as authorities lit the US Capitol brightly, both to help police remove protesters and to illumine this beautiful building as a beacon to the world. The assault on our Capitol was an assault on our nation.

All Americans must condemn the mob actions we witnessed. Silence is not an option. Unless we respond proactively and redemptively, this senseless assault will only deepen the divisions in our nation.

Two: Election concerns must be handled through due process.

Many have alleged fraud with regard to the 2020 elections, from mail-in ballots to state regulations, alleged votes-for-cash schemes, and other corruption. The credibility of a democracy and its leaders depends on the credibility of its elections. As a result, all Americans should want our elections to be fair. As I have stated previously, this is not a partisan issue.

However, as I noted above, violence is not the answer. The assault on our Capitol did nothing to make our elections more secure.

The Lord calls us to “let justice roll down like waters” (Amos 5:24) and commands us to “seek justice, correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17). We need to ensure that all Americans trust our elections to be just, but we must use just means to do so.

Three: This attack will have long-ranging consequences.

Scripture teaches that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4) and warns that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). I have often quoted the maxim, “Sin always takes you further than you wanted to go, keeps you longer than you wanted to stay, and costs you more than you wanted to pay.”

We are already seeing global consequences from yesterday’s violence.

Michael Morell served as Acting and Deputy Director of the CIA. I heard him report on television yesterday regarding two responses by our adversaries overseas. First, they are showing footage of the Capitol assault and telling their people, “This is what democracy brings. Be glad you don’t live in a democracy.” Second, they are telling the rest of the world, “This is what the US is trying to bring you when it spreads democracy.”

I fear that the violence we saw yesterday will be repeated in the future unless we take proactive steps forward as a nation, which leads to my fourth observation.

Four: God can redeem this tragedy as a turning point for our nation.

As we close today, please join me in praying for God to redeem the Capitol attack.

First, pray for our leaders and people to seek reconciliation and peace.

We can move forward or we can move backward after this tragic event. God calls us to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

With whom will you start today?

Second, pray for Christians to respond with truth and grace.

I was grieved to see some who breached the Capitol yesterday carrying Christian flags. Some in the media are already blaming evangelicals for yesterday’s violence. Now is a time for us to redouble our commitment to “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We must not say about people what we do not say to them (Matthew 18:15). Slander is sin (1 Peter 2:1). 

Our Lord calls us to “let your speech always be gracious” (Colossians 4:6). Will you answer his call today?

Third, pray for more Christians to be engaged in our democracy.

Christians are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), but both must contact that which they are to change. Similarly, I have said for years that God is calling more believers into public service than are answering his call. You and I can participate locally and nationally on issues of biblical significance. We can be the presence of Christ in our culture, pointing others to the only One who can heal us, unite us, and redeem us.

When we were children, we put our hands over our hearts every day in school and pledged allegiance to “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

How will you fulfill your pledge today?

Publication date: January 7, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jon Cherry/Stringer

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes,,, and Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

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