On November 10, 2015, Amanda Blackburn, 3 months pregnant, was shot to death in an Indianapolis, Indiana home invasion. Blackburn’s killer, Larry Jo Taylor Jr.,18, and his accomplice, Jalen Watson, 21, have been charged with murder and a host of other crimes.
Amanda Blackburn’s husband, Davey, is the pastor of Resonate Church in Indianapolis. Last Sunday, Pastor Blackburn told the church that he plans to step away from the pulpit to grieve and to figure out, going forward, what’s best for him and his son, Weston.
According to Leah Marieann Klett, a reporter for the Gospel Herald, Davey Blackburn wanted to make sure his wife’s death is not in vain. Blackburn stated:
“I don’t want this tragedy to be wasted, so I want to capitalize on seeing more and more people coming to know Jesus as their personal savior.”
Blackburn went on to say:
“It’s difficult to process through everything right now. One thing I do know and that I’m confident in is that through this entire season, what the Lord wants us to do and what Amanda would want us to do is not give up any ground. I wholeheartedly believe that God has still called me to Indianapolis, that He called our family to Indianapolis, and Amanda gave her life to see Indianapolis changed.”
It’s been four weeks since Amanda Blackburn was murdered, and I think I can safely say that her husband’s aforementioned words were not uttered in a moment of extreme grief. While I’m sure Pastor Blackburn is still grieving, his words reflect the calculations of a preacher who doesn’t want to waste an opportunity to use his wife’s murder as a motivational tool or a “teaching” moment.
Evangelicals are taught to always look for the bigger picture. When life turns on them, Evangelicals are expected to divine God’s purpose and plan. This is why Davey Blackburn said, “I don’t want this tragedy to be wasted, so I want to capitalize on seeing more and more people coming to know Jesus as their personal savior.” Blackburn believes there MUST be some sort of greater meaning or purpose for his wife’s murder. Pastor Blackburn hopes that, like Jesus’ death, his wife’s death will have a salvific effect on sinners.
My wife’s Evangelical family responded in similar fashion to her sister’s 2005 death from a motorcycle accident. If one soul gets saved through this, it is worth it all. “This” being the tragic death of a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, and grandmother. Several months ago, I wrote a post about Kathy’s death. Here’s what I said then, about the value Polly’s Evangelical family put on her sister’s death:
No, it’s not. How dare we reduce the worth of a life, this one precious life, to that which God can use for his purpose. A husband has lost his wife and his children are motherless. Her grandchildren will never know the warmth of her love. Her sister and parents are left with memories that abruptly stopped the moment their sister and daughter hit the pavement.
No, I say to myself, I’m not willing to trade her life for anyone’s salvation. Let them all go to hell. Give us one more day when the joy and laughter of family can be heard and the family is whole; one more day to enjoy the love and complexity she brought into our lives…
And I say the same thing now to Pastor Blackburn and Resonate Church. Using Amanda Blackburn’s death as a motivational tool cheapens her death, reducing her to little more than a prop to be used in the evangelization of sinners.
Blackburn’s death is a tragic waste of precious human life. There’s nothing redeeming about her murder. There’s no possible way to turn this tragedy into rainbows and fireworks. While I certainly understand, as a former pastor myself, the need to comprehend some greater cosmic purpose in senseless tragedies like this one, I can’t think of one redeeming aspect of Amanda Blackburn’s death. In fact, to put Davey Blackburn’s theological pronouncements to the test, I suspect that Pastor Blackburn would be quite willing to let all of Indianapolis go straight to hell if it meant he could once again wake up in the morning and find his precious wife busily doing her hair and makeup as she prepares to face another day.