By Don Barnhart
Welcome to post-Christian America! Recently in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio, 29 people were murdered in two horrific attacks. It is fitting that we ask ourselves what may have been part of the cause for two young men to slaughter so many. The gunman in Dayton killed his own sister.
Many of the Democratic candidates for president in 2020 have quickly said the cause was mainly guns. But I am 75 and recall that when I was young it seemed that everyone owned a gun. Teenagers brought them to high school to use after school in shooting clubs. In the 12 years I attended school I never heard of a mass shooting.
I suggest that the problem is not the Second Amendment (guns being available to all non-criminal citizens) but that our culture has changed radically in the last 75 years. We were from our founding as a union of states until the mid-1900s a people greatly molded by Christian truth. FDR during World War II said at a Labor Day rally in 1941 concerning the rights of working men and women, “Preservation of these rights is vitally important … to the whole future of Christian civilization.” To say that now would, especially to the left wing in American politics, be cause for great ridicule and anger.
We used to say that people live “in the fear of God.” By which we understood that there is a God to whom we will give an account of our lives. People lived with the knowledge that God judges us and has power to punish us. That is no longer true for most Americans. We have become the victims of our own prosperity. We think we need no God since we can do all we need ourselves – except of course to not die.
We have as a people, especially those in positions of influence and power, rebelled against all that the phrase “in the fear of God” signifies. We no longer believe in absolute truth: truth that applies to everyone, everywhere and at all times.
Several decades ago public schools promoted a program called “Values Clarification.” (At the time I often spoke with the school counselor about the danger of that program.) Essentially the program asked students to search inside themselves to see what they believed was true. The program did not suggest that there were absolute truths. Rather, the concept was for each student to embrace his or her own “truth” in the full in their lives.
And that they have done to the great detriment of our culture. The results have been rebellion against all authority and intense selfishness. We have two generations of Americans who believe the world revolves around them and that is not working out well for our nation.
The rabid support for abortion has cheapened our view of human life. Our own governor has even suggested a mother may allow her child to die if it lives through an abortion. The push to teach evolution has resulted in the logical conclusion of that faith that life has no meaning. And so we experience chaos in our culture. Those who are committing such crimes are in a very real sense “dedicated disciples” to the education they have imbibed in school and around them.
Those who are quick to blame guns are, rather, themselves a great part of the cause of the decline of our culture. They are also the ones who have and continue to attack religion, especially Christianity, to promote abortion, to mock absolute truth and to promote division of the American people. Having removed the moral foundation of our culture, they wonder why it is crumbling. Their God is power and wealth. To them the rest of us are people to trample in their pursuit of power.
What can we do ourselves to mitigate the decline of our culture? We should all seek to live a moral life that adheres to the absolute truths conveyed to us in the Bible. Confessing that we are sinners and asking Jesus to make us just and holy is the means to do that. We should instruct our children in those truths by teaching them especially by walking our talk. We should be concerned with the needs of our neighbors and not only our own desires. Finally, we should seek to elect to office people who do not divide us to get votes, do not use the “race card” for everything they don’t like and are willing to face ridicule doing what really benefits the people and not just their own legacy.