“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Proverbs 8.12, 15-16
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion … By me kings reign, and rulers enact just laws; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.”
I am putting the Elijah study on hold this week in order to address the horrific shootings in the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and the supermarket in Buffalo, New York. In those two incidents alone, 31 people lost their lives. The pain the families in those communities are experiencing is heartbreaking.
As tragic as those two incidents are, the national picture is even worse. People are shooting and killing other people in our nation at a frightening rate.
In 2021, twelve major US cities broke their annual homicide records. The six worst cities for homicides in 2021: Chicago 800. Philadelphia 550. New York 450. Los Angeles 375. Baltimore 337. Detroit 309. That is a total of 2,821 people killed in one year, which is 235 people a month.
Again, the pain those families and communities are experiencing is devastating. Justifiably, people are asking: What is going on in our country? Why is this happening? How do we stop the violence? What can we do?
As is always the case following a shooting, there are politicians, pundits, and provocateurs who immediately demand stricter gun control. It is an understandable reaction, and we certainly should do everything possible to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally unstable. But we must not allow the politics of gun control to distract us from focusing on root causes of our nation’s increasing violence.
The reality is that America is caught in the grip of a moral confusion and cultural chaos that is producing deep social conflict.
At the heart of the problem is a profound and growing disrespect for God. The dominant narrative in 21st century America dismisses God and His standards, and that dismissal is the root source of the moral confusion that is producing the cultural chaos and social conflict we are witnessing.
It is important to understand that those who lead today’s post-truth culture do not simply find the teachings of Christianity to be intellectually implausible; they regard historic Christian teachings to be morally reprehensible.
“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14.1-3)
Having rejected the moral standards of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and having replaced it with radical subjectivism and relativism, our nation is drifting into moral chaos. There is no longer a national consensus about the standards of right and wrong. There is no longer a national culture that provides objective reference points for making moral decisions.
This leaves the door wide open for manipulative politicians who seek power rather than service, pundits who promote narratives rather than pursue truth, and provocateurs who sow division and seek to profit from it.
Most worrisome is that this distortion is happening systematically in all three dimensions of American life: the private, the public, and the political. As Jeremiah 5.31 says, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so.”
Given these cultural conditions, the horrific shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde should not be a surprise. Heartbreaking? Absolutely. Surprising? With great sadness, no.