Category Archives: Marriage

School Shootings Aren’t About Gun Laws But The Collapse Of The Family

Until we are willing to address the breakdown of family and community, nothing will change, the massacres will continue.

At a press conference Wednesday in the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott almost said something profound. Almost.

Asked by reporters about gun laws in Texas, Abbott responded by talking about the need for more “mental health-resources” — a catch-all term often bandied about by Republican politicians in the wake of mass shootings like the one in Uvalde, in which 19 elementary school kids and two teachers were killed by a deeply disturbed 18-year-old.

Abbott, though, began going in a different direction with his response. He noted that 18-year-olds have been able to buy rifles in Texas for more than 60 years, and then asked: “Why is it that the majority of those 60 years we did not have school shootings and we do now?”

But then he stopped short, saying, “The reality is I do not know the answer to that question.”

Maybe Abbott really doesn’t know. Maybe it’s too much to expect an unimaginative politician like him to delve into the myriad forces of social and cultural decay that produce 18-year-old mass murderers. Maybe he was just trying to deflect questions from a hostile press corps.

After all, in the wake of school shootings, GOP politicians tend to snap into a defensive crouch as predictably as Democrats tend to regurgitate irrelevant talking points about gun control, as President Biden did earlier this week. So maybe that’s all this was.

But whether he meant to or not, Abbott’s comments approached the heart of the matter. Indeed, he could have made an even more expansive claim. Texas has been awash in firearms of all kinds for two centuries, ever since the first American empresarios began arriving in Texas at the invitation of the newly formed Mexican Republic. For the past 60 years or so, there have been no major technological advances in firearm lethality. So why is it that only now, over the past two decades, do we see the kind of mass shootings we saw this week in Texas?

Abbott can pretend not to know, but I suspect that he, along with most everyone else in America, knows perfectly well the answer to that question. It has nothing to do with gun technology or gun control laws and everything to do with our corrupt culture, and especially with the collapse of the family.

Indeed, the Uvalde shooter was a walking advertisement for the moral bankruptcy of modern America and the hollowing out of the American home. Salvador Rolando Ramos was apparently raised without a father and until recently lived with his single mother, who reportedly struggled with drug addiction. Neighbors recall blowups between her and Ramos, and police occasionally being called to the house. For the past few months, Ramos had been living with his grandmother, who called the cops after he shot her in the face and left her for dead.

Ramos has been described by former classmates in news reports as a loner who was bullied over a speech impediment, got into fights at school, and took solace in video games and chatting with strangers online. It was to one of these online strangers that he apparently confessed or hinted at what he was planning to do just before the attack on the elementary school.

A broken home, no father or father figure in his life, no church or community of any kind, no real friends except those he met through social media. Here we have, in brief sketch, not just a profile of a school shooter, but an indictment of our entire culture. It was the same in Parkland, and Sandy Hook, and many other places. Something is very wrong out there, and it is manifesting itself in the proliferation of mass shootings by alienated young men.

Politicians and pundits don’t want to talk about these things partly because there’s no law we can pass to fix it. It’s not a problem with an obvious solution. But they need to start talking all the same. We need to confront, collectively, the social maladies that create young men who murder indiscriminately, and chief among these maladies is the collapse of family and community.

Two years ago in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, amid nationwide protests and riots led by Black Lives Matter, corporate media were eager to talk about so-called “systemic racism,” police brutality, and a host of other perceived social ills. But almost no one, except a few conservatives like Glenn Loury, was willing to talk about the number one social ill afflicting black communities in America: the absence of fathers and the prevalence of single-parent households.

To his credit, Loury argued that until we’re willing to talk about that, we’re not really serious about helping black Americans or reviving black communities, we’re just using them for political advantage. He was right.

So too with school shooters like Ramos. Uvalde is a small town. People know each other there, as press reports have revealed in stark and heartbreaking ways in recent days. The brutal killing of so many schoolchildren has touched nearly the whole town in some way.

But for as tight-knit as Uvalde now seems, Ramos himself was not very well known, not tied to others in the community by strong bonds. He was on his own, and left to his own devices he became consumed by evil intent.

This is not to single out Uvalde, but to call to mind communities like it across the country, where other young men like Ramos are struggling in obscurity. It’s a difficult thing to confront, this failure in our neighborhoods and towns and communities, because it’s above all a failure of charity, of neighborly love, and we are all guilty of it.

Our leaders, though, bear special responsibility for making these cultural problems worse. Ramos had just turned 16 years old when the Covid lockdowns and school closures began. Those policies, enacted by leaders who don’t really care about the weak and powerless, made all the problems teenagers like Ramos face unfathomably worse.

As Anna Zeigler argued in these pages recently, “The total disregard for the welfare of children, children who were isolated, ignored, and needlessly masked for two years, is not unrelated to the matter of school shootings.” We could secure our schools the way we secure “places that are frequented by adults deemed to be important people,” she writes, but we don’t. “We do exactly what was done for the last two years: ignore the needs of children and cater to caterwauling unions.”

It’s quite possible that the response to the Uvalde massacre will be meaningless gun legislation that assuages the consciences of our political leaders but does nothing to address the underlying causes of such violence, just as the Covid school closures assuaged their consciences while making life worse for everyone else. You’ll be able to tell the politicians who understand the real problem and take it seriously; they’ll be talking about the need for fathers, intact families, and neighborly love.

Abbott says he doesn’t know why we have school shootings today when we did not have them 60 years ago. But he knows. We all know.


More than sound bites

So, you want an athlete not just spouting off?
NFL tight end Benjamin Watson goes beyond the conventional wisdom
By Andrew Branch July 25, 2015

Marriage and race crises haven’t been lost on athletes, but the online world of sound-bite activism was one-sided. Christian athletes largely kept their two cents in their private circles, away from media. ESPN, alternatively, collected the cheers and rainbows of LGBT-affirming teams, athletes, and celebrants who identify as LGBT.

New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson doesn’t go for sound bites, though. No matter the issue. His November journal as Ferguson burned brought an international spotlight, “liked” on Facebook more than 860,000 times. Embracing the attention, his blog migrated from more abstract spiritual topics drawn from football to a raw advocacy for racial reconciliation, starting with the church. “[It’s] pride that’s in each and every one of us to make us think that we’re better than somebody,” he told WORLD.

Benjamin Watson

The church alone models what a foundation in the imago Dei means, he says, which extends beyond race. Watson put aside allusions to marriage with an 1,100-word manifesto after the Supreme Court ruling. Sharp words like “attempting to normalize illegitimate behavior by law does not make it acceptable” were alongside self-repentance, compassion, and his broad brush that touched numerous sins. Perhaps accordingly, his words have gone unscrutinized by secular voices.

The root of both issues is a loss of absolute truth, he says. That “all men are created equal” isn’t an American invention, and neither is marriage. “If you don’t have any absolute truth, then truth is dependent on the people who make it up,” he told me.

Watson applies disdain for relativism more to race in his writings than marriage and same-sex attraction. His Ferguson quip that racism is “a SIN problem” not a “SKIN problem” was not just a cliché. In either issue facing athlete and average Joe alike, the gospel “is ultimately what can change people’s hearts.”

He acknowledged it’s not always easy to balance truth with compassion. “I’m not condemning anyone. That’s not my role,” he told me. “My role is to simply share truth, and that’s what I’m doing.” And if that angers some in the marriage debate, “that’s a risk that I’m willing to take.”

With soon-to-be five children—and, at 34, looming NFL retirement—Watson faces an uncertain future, perhaps in broadcasting or in using his finance major to help athletes with their finances.

But he’ll continue to speak, crediting his parents, who fostered discussions of current events with their children. It can be easy to throw up one’s hands, he said, particularly as cities burn with racial animosity toward the police. But “Christ says he has overcome the world,” he told me, “and that gives us hope.”


One God, One Vote!

World Magazine is addressing the issues head on.

It’s two weeks since the Supreme Court rocked American evangelicals by nationalizing same-sex marriage. It’s also 150 years since the greatest inaugural address ever given. Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural culminated his attempt to find meaning in the Civil War by finally trusting God—and we can learn from his conclusions.

Here’s a key section:

“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”

Lincoln’s comment goes deeper than Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement that “One man with courage makes a majority.” Jefferson’s dictum works only if that man is on God’s side. Sometimes we fear that five Supreme Court justices will determine our future. Christians know that the real election is God’s. Many campaigners for universal suffrage have spoken of “One man, one vote.” But elections only decide who will rule us if God votes the same way. He raises up presidents. He drives them out of office. One God, one vote.

If we believe what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, the way we look at politics changes. Secular Republicans often say that strong pro-life or pro-family positions aren’t pragmatic. But Lincoln came to understand that he had to pay attention to voters, yes, but the real decider was one Supreme Voter: “The Almighty has His own purposes.”

If we believe that God is the crucial actor in history, then His vote is decisive. Pragmatism, if it ignores God’s vote, can sometimes be pandering to a temporary majority. Only when we follow biblical principle—discerning which is God’s side and joining it—are we truly pragmatic.