It’s not a gun crisis – it’s a spiritual crisis.

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( My wife and I wept last night over this latest in a series of school shootings. We have an 8-year-old grandson who attends school nearby in San Antonio. We live a thousand miles away or we’d have been hugging the little guy last night. I couldn’t get enough of his sweet voice over the phone. Still, along with most of us, I’m grieving the unspeakable loss.

Frederick Douglass proclaimed, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Countless grieving parents and even America’s overcrowded prison system would likely give a hardy “Amen” to that sentiment.

In the absence of building strong children there are far too many young men referred to as “the lost boys.” Chicago is a prime example, with a murder rate that now exceeds anything in the Third World. International bureaus of tourism are warning tourists that American cities are too dangerous to travel to.

Godless relativism is starting to feel like a fun house mirror that we’ve fallen through. We’ve lost our way in a sea of horrible ideas. And it’s rightly said that damaged people damage people — but now with horrific and heartrending results.

I want to be careful and not fall into the trap of blaming a specific worldview for the many modern American crises as our president regrettably did Tuesday night. It’s more complicated than that. But you do have to question the cause-and-effect relationship between torching the social and spiritual values that once united us and what we are now experiencing.

gun crisis spiritual crisis

We were traveling several years ago when my son called for prayer, saying a co-worker had his one and only 16-year-old granddaughter murdered in a random school shooting in Aztec, New Mexico. A gifted boy in the high school band and this man’s beloved granddaughter, neither of whom the shooter had ever met, were gunned down in cold blood while enjoying a cloudless day and walking to class.

She was a championship-level cheerleader chosen to perform in the Rose Bowl parade. My son’s friend, her proud granddad, was happily planning to pay her way. She never made that parade in Pasadena so that another nihilistic 20-something could live out his fantasy of taking the most innocent of life on the way out of his own embittered, values-free existence.

Heartbreakingly, mass killings like these have become all-too commonplace in modern American culture, often carried out by demented and angry young men. And I’m sorry to say that as tragic as these senseless mass killings are, we should look for such acts to continue in the absence of faith in a loving God and respect for the enormously high value He places on human life “made in His image.”

Gun control won’t solve this societal problem. Had a few more adults in that little school been armed and trained, fewer children would have perished. America does not have a gun crisis – it has a spiritual crisis and it’s worsening by the day.

Much is being said in the media about the mental health of such mass murders, fair enough. But very little is said about “spiritual health” resulting from one’s thought life. Simply stated, we become what we think about. The Owner’s Manual cautions, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

In other words, you may start out like the rest of us, but dwell on mass murder long enough and you may well commit a once-unimaginable atrocity. One of God’s immutable laws is that nature can’t abide a vacuum. So, remove the God of love, and godless and dangerous worldviews rush in – often ones that don’t “choose life” in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

It can’t be coincidence that America is harvesting the fruit of a poisonous tree planted in the ’60s, reprogramming us to “think on” all the wrong things. There is no plumb-line of truth – relativism now rules. And so does excessive violence in once-thoughtful, “It’s a Wonderful Life” Hollywood. Much more so in the gaming industry.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things … and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Conversely, dwell on thoughts that are untrue, lacking in nobility, wrong, impure, unlovely, not admirable and not excellent or praiseworthy, and the God of peace will not be with you. The sworn enemy of your soul will be. And it turns out – as recently as yesterday – that impure and unlovely thoughts are often not a victimless crime.

These now commonplace tragedies were unheard of when the God-fearing Greatest Generation was raising us. I know I’m a relic of the past, but I’m old enough to remember when we put our hands over our hearts, cited the Pledge of Allegiance, read a Scripture, and then bowed our heads and prayed a silent prayer at our desks at the start of every day. Yes, in public school.

Say what you will about my outdated Ozzie and Harriett days, but we at least felt secure in our own grade-school classrooms, vying for who might do the milk run. Would be that my grandchildren took for granted such an “out of step” culture to grow up in.

With America’s shockingly divided heart over even matters of life and death, like full-term abortion, we are a nation no longer united by even the most basic respect for human life. And the very real culture hot war we find ourselves in is a whole new consequence for American parents to navigate.

Life has been inexorably cheapened in the hearts and minds of young people as educators uniformly insist that they are the byproduct of some random, cosmic accident. They are taught they’re space junk with no purpose, no meaning, and no future beyond the subjective here and now and perhaps selecting a gender. Another hideous betrayal of this generation.

It’s the most cynical, nihilistic worldview ever perpetrated on a generation of young people.

Our once-cherished American dream is fast souring into a nightmare we wish we could awaken from. We’d better do some serious soul searching, or tragic and grievous events like this are not over, not by a long shot.

The loving Savior is patiently waiting for our Nation Under God to return to the safety and security of His umbrella of protection. Our children deserve the same fighting chance we enjoyed.

Written by David McQuade