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Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Biblical look at gangs

Gangs are plagues in the large and small cities across America. In Chicago some are calling for the National Guard to be called by the Governor because of the increase in the number of murders so far this year in the city. Gang members are often cited as being responsible for high rates of crime where they inhabit the area. The gang hierarchy is constantly on the lookout for new people to bring into the organization as gang members. Large cities and poor neighborhoods are prime locations to recruit new members.

Various forms of activities are used to recruit new gang members. In an account of a personal journey into the street gang, Dr. Mike Carlie presented five (5) ways a person is sought after to join: Seduction, Subterfuge, Obligation, Coercion and Self Recruitment. (From Into the Abyss: A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs, by Mike Carlie, Ph.D.)

Gangs will create a myth about how great they are and how great it is to be a part of the gang. This tends to draw young, impressionable people into the ranks. The gang will misrepresent what the gang actually stands for, and the new member does not discover the real reason until it is too late. The gang will often do acts of kindnesses to young people in an effort to draw them in to a feeling of obligation. Physical harm is sometimes perpetrated upon a person along with threats to force them to join. Finally, according to Dr. Carlie, people will decide to join through their own efforts.

Gangs have been around for as long as people have roamed the earth. It is little wonder that King Solomon, a Hebrew King, wrote in his Proverbs to not be enticed by the gang's methods and fall prey to their lifestyle. Solomon wrote in the first chapter of Proverbs,

"10My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

11If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

12Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

13We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

14Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

15My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

16For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

17Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

18And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

19So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof." (Proverbs 1:10-19 (King James Version))

Remember that Solomon was writing to extol the virtues of Wisdom and understanding, a moral understanding. He is now contrasting the righteousness of Wisdom to the diabolical practices of gang behavior. He uses the word "sinners" as a person who is missing that moral mark. Indeed, the implication is that this sinner is one who has not only missed the moral mark, but one who is in revolt against authority and demands to continue to live in rebellion against that authority. This sinner is likely a member of a gang of robbers, thieves and murderers.

Solomon used the word entice to mean that this sinner is trying to have the person engage in the same kind of sin. Up to that point the person may not have committed the same sin, but with the help of this sinner the person can fall into the same lifestyle of sin. The obvious path of action for the person who is confronted by a gang member who uses enticement methods is simply not to go with that sinner.

These sinners are entwined together to plot some evil activity and want the person to follow in their footsteps and "lie in wait" as the evil plan is carried out. The plan looks like a misadventure of violent bloodshed that will be carried out exactly as the plan has laid it out. The person who follows the sinners through the enticement will be ensnared in the murderous activity and be as guilty as the original sinners.

Innocent people are caught up in the sinner's trap. As they lie in wait, secretly remaining hidden until the trap is sprung; the person who is caught in that trap is a harmless person who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This activity will ensnare the follower of the sinners and lock into place a permanent position in the gang. Bringing harm to the innocent person through this act is "without cause" except as it is an act that cements into place the sinner's follower, and makes it difficult to ever leave the gang in the future.

Verse fifteen (15) is the pivotal verse that gives the clear warning and plea to the would-be follower of the gang's sinners:

"15My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:"

The path that Solomon describes is the path of a life-style of living a life of crime, murder, robbery, kidnapping, killing, and destruction of others' lives. Do not even start down that pathway because once moving in that direction with the sinners, each evil deed will solidify the hold the gang will have on the life of the follower.

In the end the gang members will simply become blinded by the evil they inflict upon others. The life-style will become so embittered with evil and heinous acts of harm against others in the community that they will eventually devour themselves. They will become like hungry ravens that fail to see the danger of a net or trap, but are so hungry for the food they fly directly into the trap. The gang will become so hungry for the evildoing that it becomes ingrained into the fabric of life, and the company kept, that they too will dive headlong into the trap of misery and destruction.

Hundreds of years before Jesus came to the earth Solomon, a wise King of the Hebrew nation, saw the effects of gang sinners and urged those who sought Wisdom to avoid associating with gang members. In our modern age those who are considering joining ranks with the gang sinners would be wise to turn their eyes toward Christian living and avoid stepping on the pathway to gang membership.

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