As you have no doubt heard, there’s been another school shooting, and seventeen people are dead. An evil man took lives he had no right to take. His actions were full of hate and spite. These were human beings made in the image of God, most of them young people, lives cruelly cut short. There will be aching holes left in these families, among their friends, throughout the Parkland, Florida community, deep pits of sorrow and pain. The Bible commands Christians to weep with those who weep, and so we do.
But when a manifestly unjust act like this takes place it is natural to ask whether there is anything to be done. Is there anything that can be done to stop this senseless violence? Is there anything to be done to protect our neighbors from these tragedies? I watched a CNN clip of a mother who lost her daughter in the Parkland shooting. In her heartbreak and desperation, she cried out, demanding that President Trump do something to stop the bloodshed and violence and protect our children. I haven’t lost a daughter in a school shooting, but I have buried a baby daughter and a baby son. And the thing that struck me was that what that mother was articulating both with her words and her emotions was what Christians call prayer. She was praying. Now, I grant that she likely didn’t think she was praying, but the desperation in her voice, the hopelessness, the defeat, the fear, the helplessness, the demands-–that is the prayer of a broken heart. But she was praying to the President of the United States, whom I can only assume is the highest authority she can think of, the greatest power she can appeal to. And in that moment on CNN, she knew there was a good chance he would see her and hear her cries for help.
When the CNN camera returned to the reporter on the scene, the female reporter had choked up. She couldn’t speak. And it was understandable. So she appealed to the member of congress standing next to her to say something, and fighting through his own emotion, he immediately cited the failure of congress to enact laws. He too offered a prayer to the gods, the gods of government to save us with gun control.
In other words, what I want to point out is that amid the angry and dismissive denunciations of “prayer” as some kind of pointless, worthless platitude, what we are actually dealing with is a clash of religions. All the people mocking prayer as doing nothing are not prayerless. They are just praying to different gods. The Twitters and Medias are full of these pleas, these demands, these appeals to the State to do something, pass laws, ban guns, more strenuous background checks, help us, have mercy on us, save us. It’s not a matter of prayer or no prayer. When a tragedy like this occurs, everyone starts praying, but we have manifestly different gods we turn to. Of course many will say that at least they are appealing to someone or something who can actually do something about school shootings, while millions keep talking to a figment of their imagination. But here’s the problem: Christians who appeal to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ have far more reasonable grounds for believing that He actually can and will do something about school shootings. You who appeal to congress and judges and presidents, you are praying to gods who cannot help you, cannot save you. You are praying to the gods who have brought this bloodshed upon us. And therefore your demands that something be done by the government–your demands are the very definition of platitudes. You are appealing to gods who cannot save. So enough with your hypocritical platitudes. Save your self-righteous posturing for your cocktail parties. Your cries for the government to save us are worthless. Demands for “gun control” are the obsessive-compulsive prayers of Statists. Clinical psychiatrists report that mental patients often gravitate to obsessive behaviors because they seem to offer an illusion of control. They are rituals and liturgies that are known, predictable, and controllable. People wash their hands obsessively, count lines or steps, recite or retell events word for word, lock and unlock doors, masturbate, cut themselves, overeat or undereat, use drugs and alcohol, and in modern America, the instinctive demand for government to deliver us is one of our go-to Benzedrines, our obsessive-compulsive twitch, demanding our statist gods to save us. Our nation is like the priests of Baal screaming and cutting themselves trying to get Baal to answer with fire. Perhaps if you yell louder, the State might come through. It didn’t work in Aurora. It didn’t work in Newtown. Maybe your god is sleeping or on the john.
The fact is that American culture is unraveling. Our culture is coming apart, coming undone, careening out of control. And one of the places where we have planted the seeds of this chaos is in our public schools. For decades it has been a requirement of the curriculum that students be taught that they are the accidental byproducts of a Big Bang. They have been taught that they are only so many bits of plankton, randomly mutated and evolved, floating meaninglessly in the sea of time. We have insisted that our children be taught that life is meaningless. Life came from nowhere, and it leads to nowhere. And now in these last days, we have insisted that our children be taught that they should obey the urges of the chemicals in those meaningless bags of protoplasm we call their bodies. If the urges tell them to hump something, someone, anything, anyone, school counselors will be on hand to show them how to do so “safely.” And now younger and younger we irrationally insist that they are the masters of their own fate, their own destiny. They can choose their own sexual orientation, their own sexual identity. But why should it stop there? Why should our children not follow the argument we have taught them?
What? You say I’m a worthless bag of hormones, highly evolved by random mutations in a long process of violent survival and aggressive mating?
No, no, everyone cries, you’re special! Life is special! Every life is special. Since when? You cannot have the blood of 60 million babies crying out from the dumpsters of our land and insist with any degree of integrity that every life is special. You cannot legislate the murder of babies and then wonder why one student might have the audacity to try to “control” his life however he wants. He learned his catechism well. He dreamed a dream, looked deep into his heart, and felt the rage and hate and pain and despair of being taught that might-makes-right and “choice” is the highest good. And he “chose” to live consistently with the Big Bang, and went through his old high school imitating the doctrine he was taught, snuffing out lives with one big bang after another, just enacting the creation myth he was given, just like so many abortionists, just like so many terrorist mothers taking the lives of their own children.
All the enraged demands for the state to pass gun control laws are like a drunk demanding all the lines on the road be redrawn straight for him. You can’t take fifteen Jell-O shots of Darwinism and six chasers of nihilism and then demand reason and meaning to emerge from the soup you just threw up into the toilet bowl in the back of this joint. You can’t insist on sacred rights of choice and then choke when some young man actually chooses. You can’t preach the freedom of following your chemical urges and then bluster furiously about someone doing something to stop this. What gives you the right to enforce your laws on Nikolas Cruz’s body? If your worldview insists that there is no transcendent meaning, the only thing you have is might-makes-right, which makes all your fussing and virtue signaling one big manipulative fit. So no, we won’t be handing over our guns to the inmates running this asylum. You want us to cede control of our means of self-defense to a state that officially insists that it is a fundamental human right to murder babies in their mothers’ wombs? You want us to cede control to the high priests of a religion that teaches that order and meaning magically emerge from chaos and anarchy and violence and big bangs? Not a chance.
Turns out when tragedies like this occur, everyone prays. Much of the prayerful hysteria is aimed at politicians— the gods of many – demanding that they do something. Pass laws, restrict freedoms, hover over us, O Sweaty and Obese Nanny State. Turns out that the salvation of the state is the slow suffocation of being smothered in the jellyrolls of her legislative belly fat. But many of us prefer a God who can actually do something about this messed up place. All the feigned indignation about prayer being worthless is really just man’s ongoing refusal to come to terms with his Maker. You want change? Real lasting change in our country? Then start by repenting of your incoherent worldview. Start by acknowledging that if you want real justice and right and wrong, there must be a fixed standard outside of yourself, a standard that doesn’t change with the whims of lust or mobs or time. Otherwise you have nothing to offer this conversation apart from irrational shrieks and tears, a form of Tourette’s syndrome, which most public school biology teachers would be quick to remind you are just the necessary end result of a cosmic gun shot that went off in the hallway of the universe a few billion years ago. Sorry, buttercup, the universe doesn’t give a rip.
But of course if you know there is meaning in this world, that truth is more than molecules careening aimlessly, then stop your yammering about gun control and recognize your complicity in this situation. Repent of your porn use—treating other human beings as objects to use to gratify your lusts. Repent of your bitterness—that silent, seething hatred that commits mass murder in the heart. Confess the most fundamental truth of all: that this world was created. Confess your malicious treason against your Maker and against the world that He made and the way He made it. Accept His only offer of pardon found in the judicial murder of His only Son, Jesus Christ, His blood for your ransom.
What good will this do? How does this stop school shootings? Well, how could it be any worse than what we’ve got now? We’ve been running away from Christ and what’s that gotten us? A bloated state, 60 million slaughtered babies, families in shambles, and a bunch of shooting sprees. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Sin is our fundamental insanity, but it manifests in all kinds of obsessions and idolatry. The bad news is that this kind of insanity is terminal. You can’t stop this train. The cancer has metastasized. But the good news is that it only gets worse. The perversions only get worse. The tyranny only gets more brazen. The violence only gets more frequent and bloody. And the reason it’s good news is that sometimes God in His sovereign mercy uses the horror of sin and its consequences to shock people into repentance.
Maybe we will become that desperate and heartbroken mother on CNN, and maybe the hopelessness will really sink in, and we will realize that Donald Trump is a mere man and that all of our legislators cannot save us. And then maybe in our desperation and hopelessness we will cry out to the God of Heaven, the only true God, and He will hear us. And He will save us.