On the evening of February 14th, 2018, I learned of the devastating news about the Parkland Shooting. A 19-year-old, armed with an assault rifle and a few extra mags, killed an estimated seventeen students. This is not a time for politics, and this is not a time for vain condolences. This is a time to answer the real questions.
I want to make this abundantly clear before I state my case:
This is not a “gun” issue. Guns can’t pull their own triggers… period.
This is not a “liberal or conservative” issue. Political agenda does not necessarily lead a person to reek havoc.
This is not a “youth” issue. There are millions of people with raging hormones; not all of them go out killing people.
This is not just a “mental illness” issue. I recognize it plays a factor, but there is something deeper going on here.
Rather than letting our emotions get the better of us, we need to be asking ourselves the right questions, and we need to find the true cause behind many of these mass shootings. This is not the first, and if America doesn’t change… it’s won’t be the last. Why do so many youths feel that they need to grab assault weapons and murder people that are innocent before the law? Why do these massacres keep happening? For too long, we’ve been coming up with answers to the wrong questions. I think it’s time we answer the question that needs to be answered: what causes these individuals to do such horrific acts?
Americans have owned all kinds of weaponry, even tanks and army helicopters (no I am not kidding; I’ve got a friend whose grandfather has a permit to own a tank), for centuries. Why is it that for almost two centuries there were no mass shootings in schools, workplaces, and/or churches, and yet according to CNN we have had 90 mass shootings since 1966? Is it because of the availability of guns? No. In fact, gun control has only gone up.
I saw a 1975 magazine ad that advertised fully automatic M16 rifles for only $200. Did we see mass shootings happening at the same scale as we saw them happening in the 1990s? No. And get this: at that time you could buy a gun at 16 years old! Heck, you could buy grenades at a military surplus store. Bet you can’t do that today, can you huh? “How is anyone still alive?” you might ask. According to mass media, we should’ve been at a “Mad Max” level apocalypse by now after living in those times, but we’re not. So, what was so different back then? If the youth in the past had an even easier access to tactical weaponry, what made them less reluctant to go and shoot up schools?
Before I give the answer, I know how many young people will react: “That’s ridiculous!” “That can’t possibly influence people!” Or… “I do that stuff; do you think I am gonna be a killer?” If we want to be unbiased human beings, we have to recognize the faults in our modern society, and I believe that there are three faults we have committed as a nation against our youth for the past few decades.
I believe they are these three: 1) glorification of violence, 2) removal of moral standards, and 3) shift in parenting methods. If you think I am an idiot, now is a good time to leave this post. If you are intrigued and you want to hear me out, please take these points into consideration.
Glorification of Violence
According to Gallop polls, by the time an average child reaches 18 years old, they have witnessed 200,000 murders on TV. Another thing is that the most common rating movies have today are PG-13. Are they usually without any violence? Far from it. Over 90% of PG-13 movies had so much violence, the MPAA (the guys that determine a movie rating) almost switched the rating to R at the last minute.
It is interesting to think about how much more violent movies got as the years progressed. As a cinephile, I watch a lot of film, and believe me… I can totally see what happened. My favorite movie of all time, Ben-Hur (1959), had a controversial chariot race scene that was deemed too violent. It was rated G, and yet people thought its scenes were too much. Then, the movie Psycho (1960) came out, a movie considered so horrendous by the MPAA, that the movie’s director, Alfred Hitchcock, was forced to convert the film to black & white in order to attain an R rating.
I’ve seen Psycho, and if the MPAA thought that was bad… they should’ve waited for Quentin Tarantino. This director makes violence seem angelic. You might think I am kidding, but even he has admitted in an interview that he will purposefully go out of his way to put violence in his movies (the ironic part is: he’s pro-gun control). In his movies Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Tarantino was forced to convert several scenes to black and white in order to keep an R rating. What makes this different from Psycho? Psycho‘s kill count: 2; Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2‘s kill count: 116. Not only that, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 is considered to be one of the bloodiest films of all time. If that hasn’t convinced you that our standards have gotten lower, wait for the next paragraph.
What is the most successful video game franchise? What is the best selling game of all time? What has become a household name for all gamers? You guessed it: Grand Theft Auto. If people though Doom was bad… [insert evil laugh here]. The Grand Theft Auto games allow you to take control of a character and steal cars, kill cops, run over pedestrians, rob shops, and attack a military base.
It sounds bad just from the start, but I could honestly forgive the first two games as the environment wasn’t realistic and the A.I.’s were just laughably annoying [ insert “all we had to do was follow the d*** train C.J” quoters here]. However, the games have recently gotten too realistic, creating almost a real-world simulation… which scares me. The cops in the game are racist, when you point a gun at pedestrian they will beg you not to shoot, and cars move like they would in the real world. What could a game like this do to a young person with mental issues? Better yet, how can people playing this game know for a fact that their minds won’t disconnect from reality, as we have seen among some World of Warcraft and Sims players?
The Scriptures says in Psalm 11:5 (ESV), “The Lord tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Like it or not, this American not only loves violence, but also glorifies it in the same way that Romans cheered during the gladiator matches. This culture is teaching kids to love violence. Many African terrorist groups are able to teach kidnapped children to kill within two months. How much easier do you think it will be to cause a person with an unstable mind to go do the same thing he sees on TV, movies, and video games (and the difference is the African child has two months, while the American child has 18 years or less)? For some reason, we think we Americans are better, and that our minds are not weak. As long as we glorify violence, we’ll keep learning we’re very wrong.
Removal of Moral Standards
I brought up African children that are taken from families, and then they are forced into revolutionary groups (terrorist organizations). According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), it is estimated that there are over 120,000 children that are combatants in Africa. Both corrupt governments and radical groups kidnap them and begin indoctrinating them. The first thing they teach them: forget their family, and that family doesn’t matter. The second thing they teach them: all that matters is the “brotherhood” or the “good of the country.” The last thing: there is no God. After they are indoctrinated with this ideology, then they are able to kill mercilessly.
Some might think our society is more civilized, but if it so civilized how do we have this occurrence: a 19-year-old boy shoots up a school, escapes the place by blending in with students, goes to Subway to get some lunch, goes to play some video games, and then goes to McDonald’s where he eventually gets arrested? That is exactly what happened on February 14th, 2018. This boy believed he didn’t do anything wrong; it was just like any other day for him. He had an easy lunch, even chatted with the cashier. He played some video games and only left the house because he got hungry again. That is sickening, and it makes you think two things: 1) how did this boy have no marks on him when getting arrested (thank the Lord I wasn’t the arresting officer), and 2) what moral code did this boy have?
There are some things we know about Nikolas Cruz. According to The New York Times, he had little to no friends. He was also a big fan of violent video games and gratuitous rap artists. He was a profound atheist, and believed that there was little purpose to have in life. (By the way, when I’m talking about this kid, I am not trying to give him fame or publicity; I am simply trying to examine a problem.) In essence, he had no moral code. That’s how he taught himself. He believed what he thought was right was indeed the right thing. So, when you give a gun to a man who has no moral code, no religion, no love, and no peace in his heart… you are going to have a man who will love violence and want to show his power.
You may think this is awful, and I agree. However, Cruz is not alone. Millions of students right now are being brainwashed into a philosophy that is similar to Cruz and the African groups. Kids are being taught that family is not important, and to not believe or follow what the parents say. They are being taught that you must do whatever you think is good and right. Of course, the final cherry on the abhorrent sundae is that children are being taught this: there is no God. The Columbine shooters didn’t think there was God; Cruz doesn’t think there’s God; the African groups don’t think there is God; Stalin didn’t believe there was God… do I need to continue?
In Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” In our Declaration of Independence, there was a phrase that is marked on the legacy America leaves today, “…endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights…” Where did our human rights come from under the Declaration? Was it our hearts? Was it societal consensus? No. It was based on the recognition that God exists. Thomas Jefferson, who penned those words, was an atheist. Why did he write that then? Because he believed that the moment you took God out of society, the moment you stopped teaching children doctrine and the Bible, society would go downhill. Atheists such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, et cetera signed the Declaration of Independence because they knew that having the Bible be at the center of society was actually good. It was the “gold standard” of morality. Now, here we are, thinking we’re better than them… not realizing we are causing the decline of our society.
Shift in Parenting Methods
I am not a parent, and I am not married either. However, I do appreciate books on parenting and marriage. Dreams of being a faithful husband and a godly father fill my heart, and I want to be the kind of husband and father who would glorify God in all that I do. This mentality, however, is lost, and it’s prevalent in the parenting books I read. Of the five that I have sat down and read through entirely, only one was actually worth reading. I got the book after hearing the author speak at G3 Conference 2018 and it was called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Dr. Paul David Tripp Jr. Do you know why this book was good? It had something different to say.
Of the five books, only two were Christian. The other three were secular, and they had a reoccurring theme: dominance. Basically, the book taught you how to assume control over your child, whether passively or forcefully. There was even one book that believed that the rule of the family should be completely handed over to the kids, thereby appeasing the desires of the child and not having to deal with the whining, screaming, and all that jazz.
What kind of philosophy does this instill in a child? These secular parenting methods make a kid believe that there are only two things that matter: power and fear. Power: who is in charge; fear: who is timid. If the parent’s sole job is to display power and fear, then it will cause a child to chase an opportunity to have the power and fear the parent has. If a child is the one put in charge of the family by being spoiled and given whatever the child desires, then you will have a child who will believe that he or she is always in power and causes fear. The latter was the case with Cruz, and that is the cause of downfall for many other families. Sons and daughters turn violent because they are being taught that you can either submit to power and fear, or you can possess it. This world, without God, has nothing else to offer.
Now, the other parenting book was “Christian”…. and pointless! All it said was that we need spanking, discipline, and we need to make sure kids watch no TV or movies and that they should not be allowed to play any video games. It basically repeated everything liberal psychologists said with some religious language. Both sides believed people were inherently good, which is why they should be exposed to the bad, and you need to have control or give them control in order to “keep the good.” Dr. Paul David’s Tripp Jr.’s book, however… believed something else.
Contrary to the parenting that causes many shooters to fall, Dr. Tripp Jr. came from the biblical view that all man is under sin, and that even children have sin. Rather than believing that this is greater reason to show power and dominance over children, he believes this is an opportunity to fulfill what the Scriptures say for us to do in Ephesians 6:4 (ESV), “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We need to bring them up in the Lord, and he says that the Lord shows us two things that this world can’t offer: love and grace.
This world demands that parenting have “love,” but as I said on Wednesday’s post… this world’s definition of love is subjective and not based on Christ. That is why we need to bring back the parenting method of the old days and of the Bible: we show kids that we all need grace and love, even the parents, from Jesus Christ. Once they find a common authority, they can grow together in sanctification. Until we separate from the idea that we need to instill fear and power in children, they will be confused as to what they need to be in order to be good people under the law. If our parenting doesn’t change, then we will continue to see children who will try to become more powerful, whether through physical strength or with a gun. We either make disciples or bullies and shooters.
I hope I made a good case as to what has been the cause of so many mass shootings of late. This has resulted from my studies and research on the Columbine Shooting, the Virginia Tech Shooting, as well as the Parkland Shooting. I have seen, firsthand, what horrible parenting can do to kids as young as 7 years old, what violent video games can do the imagination of teenagers, and the anger that can come out of atheism. We need to go back to the teachings of the Bible, and the standards that God set from the beginning of time.
For the love of God, let’s end these mass shootings by fixing the real problems causing them: sinfulness and the ignorance towards God.
May God help us, may God bless the families affected by this tragedy, and may we take comfort in the fact that God is in control and that all things work together for the goodness of His and for those who love Him. Remember the Scriptures when it says:
“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
(Proverbs 23:18 ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria.