Could This Be the Primary Cause Behind Mass Shootings?
Note: Due to the recent spree of mass shootings — four recently in my home state of California alone — I’ve revised and re-released this article.
The FBI said that there were 61 active shooter incidents in 2021, which is a 52% jump from 2020. And based on actions so far, 2023 will be even worse.
The LA Times recently reported that “in the span of eight days, a family home in the San Joaquin Valley, a popular dance hall in Monterey Park, mushroom farms near Half Moon Bay and a gas station in Oakland all became scenes of horrific gun violence.” You can add to that a “gun battle” early Saturday morning in the very posh L.A. neighborhood of Beverly Glen that left three dead.
What in the world is going on? As a pastor in California, it’s clear that our nation has rejected God and we are reaping the whirlwind. Just as water rapidly eroded the banks of the mighty Colorado River and created a vast Grand Canyon, America’s current belief system (relativism) has eroded her foundation and created a moral void.
As Founding Father Robert Winthrop said, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”
The Enemy Within
Interestingly enough, the stability of America is one of the top concerns on the minds of many today. There was a time in recent history when America felt secure knowing that the most formidable enemies were abroad. Not so today. Our enemies are within our gates. We, like the mighty Roman Empire that collapsed centuries ago, are crumbling from within. There are people who attempt to be “one nation ‘above’ God,” rather than “one nation ‘under’ God.” Scripture identifies this as foolishness, self-exaltation, and arrogance — the downfall of nations.
Don’t Pull Up the Roots
There is a saying that one generation plants trees for the next generation. I’m concerned that instead of planting, we are removing and destroying the roots. As a result, our legacy as a great and noble nation has all but been forgotten. For instance, most schools no longer teach students about the spiritual foundation that has guided America throughout its history.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, echoed this same sentiment, “Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament be read and taught as a divine revelation in the [school]? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?” We must bring God back into our schools.
Consequently, America’s moral and religious heritage is often deleted, grossly distorted, or revised altogether. Students often miss the critical connection that America’s unparalleled greatness is because we put God first. This should concern us. The ideas of the classroom in one generation will create the ideas of society within the next. And this is exactly what is happening today: There is no fear of God in this place.
As a Man Thinks
Another problem is that many are becoming desensitized by movies and video games that depict extreme violence and other such ungodly themes as witchcraft, the occult, perverted sex, and so on. Mass shootings are demonic. For anyone to assume that there isn’t a pattern here — a plan from the one who comes to “kill, steal and destroy” — is either naïve or grossly out of touch with the culture.
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The greatest battle we will ever fight is within. Even secular psychologists recognize that our mind is where the battle is either won or lost. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” (Proverbs 3:27) Not surprisingly, many past shooters were also on powerful antidepressants drugs.
The Star Tribune reported this about the Texas shooter, Salvador Rolando Ramos:
Santos Valdez Jr., 18, said he has known Ramos since early elementary school. They were friends, he said, until Ramos’s behavior started to deteriorate.
They used to play video games like ‘Fortnite’ and ‘Call of Duty’. But then Ramos changed. Once, Valdez said, Ramos pulled up to a park where they often played basketball and had cuts all over his face. He first said a cat had scratched his face.
‘Then he told me the truth, that he’d cut up his face with knives over and over and over,’ Valdez said. ‘I was like, “You’re crazy, bro, why would you do that?'”
Ramos said he did it for fun, Valdez recalled.
I Will Keep Sounding the Alarm
As I’ve said many times in the last few years: Without a massive spiritual awakening, the violence in our country will only get worse. We must learn from King Josiah in the Old Testament. Once he heard what God’s Word said about the current condition of the nation, he humbled himself in a profound way, repented, and asked for God’s intervention.
God’s answer also offers hope for us today: Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself, I heard your cry and answered your prayer. I have stayed my hand of judgment for now (paraphrasing 2 Kings 22:19).
The cure for violence has never changed: humility, repentance, and fearing God. Our cry must resemble Isaiah’s: “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence” (Isaiah 64:1).
Like any parent, God hears the cries of His children. Would be to God that America would tremble again at His presence and fear Him. (Isaiah 64:1-2)
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.