Another senseless act of inhuman cruelty and we again find ourselves looking for answers in all the wrong places. The answers we agree and disagree on do not solve or touch the heart of the evil. Instead, like a runaway locomotive, the freight train of opinion is filled with the promises of pundits and politicians who faithfully push their private doctrines in order to get everyone on board for the next set of elections.
Nothing changes. Nothing heals. Soon enough the indignant masses move beyond the moment with an haunting expectation of more evil down the track. Somehow we know that we are swatting at flies instead of confronting the brokenness that is the root of our dysfunctional society.
Full disclosure. I am a proponent of greatly expanding our non-existent mental health care ability. As a counselor and a pastor, I can speak from a place of seeing the great need as well as the total lack of considerate care from our society. When someone is mentally ill, they are seldom in a place to care for themselves. We have a societal obligation to care and we do not.
I am also not opposed to meaningful review of our gun laws. As long as we only stick to polar positions, no solutions will be provided. I am an avid hunter, shooter, collector, conceal carry operator as well as a hobbyist with weapons. But the answer is transparent honesty, not screaming polar opinions. Let’s talk, not scream and threaten Armageddon.
The problem is that those two issues solved will still not touch the root of the poison plant. One, the mental health issue, deals with the mind. The other, gun control, attempts to control behavior. Neither touches the soul or the spirit of our human condition and that is the problem.
Long ago our nation drifted away from morality and now we are riding the high tide of depravity. When life becomes valueless it is not because of a lack of rules or programs. It is morality that has been removed which is the underpinning of any great society even though the rules and programs have increased.
Here is the problem in a nutshell. All human beings have three primary motivations.
- We think. This is the cognitive ability to reason, plan and execute judgement towards a goal.
- We do. This is the behavioral component of life. We are able to follow thinking with action.
- We relate. We have a primary need for others as well as God. There in lies the rub. We confess with our mouths that we want a peaceful and sane community yet refuse the very One who came to provide it.
Like it or not, the United States was founded on the moorings of the Bible. An honest view of history states clearly that the success of the grand experiment of freedom is firmly grounded in the Bible and a Christian world view. Why that is even debated is beyond me. The fact that it was founded around Judeo-Christian principles shows that true freedom is welcome, not restricted, by religion.
- John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
- Thomas Jefferson, “The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.”
- Benjamin Franklin, “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. As to Jesus of Nazareth, I think the system of moral and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.”
- Patrick Henry, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
Our common Christian heritage has not restricted freedom but grown it. In 400 years, the United States has become the greatest, most secure, freedom loving, welcoming, wealthiest and sought nation in the history of the world. No other nation in all of history has the reputation that compels people to give up everything to partake in this blessing we take for granted. Mind you, this is not opinion fueled by religious fervor. It is fact based in history.
What has happened is that we have convinced ourselves that God will politely bow out of the covenant our founders made with Him. We are convinced that by breaking our contract, He will just wring His hands and continue to bless. We mistakenly assume that He is just like us. The truth is that He never gives up and never gives in when it concerns His covenants. In other words, when something, like a country, is dedicated to Him and promises to live according to His principles, He doesn’t just hand back the keys when rebellious and selfish mankind says they want it back.
Some have given up hope, assuming that the end that truly is near means that we need to just throw in the towel. I have not. It is the disciplining hand of God that is also the most merciful and no one grieves over the state of affairs like God. It is not His choices, but ours that are fault finding. We have thrown our morality into a black hole of destructive and soul numbing misdeeds. Until we reclaim our values and return to the biblical mindset on which our nation was founded, no amount of money, laws, round table discussions or presidential tweets will change the slide.
The Jewish prophet, Micah, wrote, “He has told you , O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Why have biblical principles of justice, kindness, and humility been stripped from our society? It is because you cannot have these without embracing the God who gives them. Until this nation turns again to the God who ordained this great land, the character of God will never prevail.
James Carville, the campaign strategist for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, coined the now famous phrase, “It’s the economy stupid.” What was so obvious to him escaped all other’s view. In the same vein, what seems so obvious to me escapes the view of so many others. No laws, mental healthcare, restrictions on guns, armed teachers, or metal detectors will cure the problem. The answer lies in returning to the place of our dreadful departure. By ignoring and departing from God’s ways, we have also refused His great blessings. What a stupid and ignorant thing we have done.
Until we admit that we have refused God, abandoned virtue and humility, and have destroyed generations as a result, nothing will change. It’s morality, stupid. Why is it taking us so long to figure this one out?