Last Monday police in suburban Boston discovered the body of Olin Lloyd, 27, who had been shot to death. Evidence led to the investigation of Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots star tight end, and police searched his house multiple times and even sent divers into the pond adjacent to his home. Early on Wednesday morning, Hernandez was arrested and later charged with murder as well as multiple gun-related crimes. Reports indicate he had been seen with Lloyd in the hours preceding Lloyd’s death, and that shortly after the time of death, Hernandez disposed of his cell phone, had his house professionally cleaned, and deleted several hours of security footage from his home security system.
While there is evidence pointing to Hernandez as a prime suspect, he has been convicted of nothing. Of course, this has not stopped numerous members of the media from postulating as to what could lead him to commit such a crime. The NFL is a culture of violence. Players lack accountability, especially in the off-season. Young men can’t handle so much fame and money so soon. Hernandez had a rough background and was involved in drugs in college, and his sins caught up to him. (The part about drugs in college is true.) He ran with the wrong crowd and chose friends poorly. Any or all of these statements might be true, or partly true, but really they’re mere attempts at creating a narrative. Such sweeping statements of causality are the best efforts of story writers to give reason to evil, to explain that which is heinous. They want to find the story that makes sense out of such senseless violence.
Narrative is the foundation of all that makes sense; it is the combined threads of history and reason that help us understand the whats, wheres, whens, whys, and hows. So, of course, those in the media covering this story want the narrative behind it, but even if any or all of their proposed versions are correct they will still be left without the reason behind the crime. That dates back to a story that started in a garden, led to forbidden fruit, and built to one brother killing another.
We will never be able to “reasonably” explain violence like the murder of Olin Lloyd without knowing the narrative of sin that began in Genesis 3. Even then, there is no good explanation for it because sin is reason and rightness turned upside down. Sure, there will be story lines that point to triggers, causes, catalysts, and accelerants of violence, but none of them make sense of it. As Christians, we must remember this, especially in a world looking for narratives to cling to for hope and to make sense in the face of evil. We know the nonsense of sin, but we also know the hope-giving end of the story. And it is only this full narrative that provides any understanding when violence happens.