On Not Healing the Wound Lightly: How to Respond to School Shootings

Last Wednesday, it happened again. Different person, same carnage. A young man named Nicholas Cruz went into a high school in Parkland, FL and killed 17 people—15 students and 2 staff members. Our hearts grieve for those who have lost loved ones—and we pray that our God—who is the God of all comfort—would be near those whose hearts are breaking.

But this shooting is a pattern, not an isolated incident. For the last 20 years or so, at least since Columbine, there has been a steady onslaught of death in our schools. Here is just a small fraction of these dozen upon dozens of fatal school shootings in the last 20 years:

  • Cold Spring, MN (2003)—2 killed
  • Red Lake, MN (2005)—7 killed
  • Essex Junction, VT (2006)—1 killed
  • Virginia Tech (2007)—32 killed
  • Northern Illinois University (2008)—5 killed
  • Chardon, OH (2012)—3 killed
  • Newtown, CT (2012)—26 killed
  • Roseburg, Oregon (2015)—8 killed

How can we be like the men of Isaachar, who were men of understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do?

If we want to analyze our cultures, we need to look at the variables, not the constants. What has remained constant? The availability of guns. 50 years ago, guns were more commonplace than they are today, and yet there were very few school shootings. So, if the availability of guns hasn’t changed, then what has changed? What is God trying to tell us?

1.) We are a nation have rejected true justice and, as a result, mankind’s heart is more firmly set to do evil.

Inevitably after attacks like this, we hear that shooters like this have mental problems—they were mentally unstable and they are not to receive ultimate blame for the shooting. Instead we blame family upbringing, we blame bullying, and we especially blame the gun. The shooter, we say, doesn’t need justice; he needs rehabilitation.

Situations like this reveals how we have forsaken biblical justice as a nation. And because we have forsaken God’s standard of justice, we get more wrongdoing. This is a firm principle in the way God orders the word: justice acts a deterrent for future wrongdoings; but lack of justice inclines peoples' heart to do evil. Justice is a wet blanket on wrongdoing; lack of justice is gasoline.

Ecclesiastes 8:11—“Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” 

But the Bible teaches us that everything that we do or say comes from our heart—the deepest part within us. Therefore, we are always responsible for what we do.

Luke 6:45—“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” 

James 4:1-2—“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder.” 

Attacks like Parkland reveal the true nature of evil. Nicholas Cruz was an evil man who was filled with hate and as a result killed fellow human beings that bear the image of God. He should be given a fair and speedy trial, and if he is found guilty of intentional murder, he should be put to death by the authorities. This is what God’s Word clearly declares. Genesis 6:6—“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” 

2.) The way we respond to school shootings reveals that this is a worship battle.  

Whenever a shooting happens, the media instantly cry out for gun control. A mother of one of the victims from Parkland on CNN last week personal addressed President Trump. She was desperate, “President Trump, do something. You have to do something.” Then they scanned back to the female anchor, and she lost it.

What was this lady doing? It was a form of praying. All of us as believers have gone through desperate times in which we cry out, “God, do something!”. This is what this woman was doing, but the highest authority she could think of appealing to was the president of the U.S. This is the god we look to in America. Pass some legislation. Grab some guns. Do some more background checks. Get some armed guards in school. Oh state, please save us!

And doesn’t this make sense of how they respond to the thoughts and prayers of believers? What do they say? They mock it. Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote recently on Twitter, “Evidence collected over many years, obtained from many locations, indicates that the power of Prayer is insufficient to stop bullets from killing school children.”

This is dueling religions. They have their god: the state. And we have our God: YHWH. They think our God is powerless, and so they cry out to their god for ultimate hope—“Pass laws, restrict our freedoms, protect us!” 

3.) America is in a place of cultural rot because of our rejection of Christ.

So, what has changed in the last 50 years? We have turned further and further from the Lord Jesus Christ. If you think about it, Nicholas Cruz was only acting consistently on what he’s been taught by our culture.

Consider: Government schools tell our students for 12 years straight that they are a cosmic accident, that they came from the primordial goo, and that they have no intrinsic value. The core of our government curriculum is the sacredness of choice—be whatever you can be, whatever your sexual preferences are, whatever your sexual identity is. So, if someone raised in this system and in this culture says, “Life is meaningless, I want to kill others” what can we say to them? We have nothing to say. He is being consistent.

We as a nation have rejected God. We have made an idol out of our sexual desires, and as a result, the family has been destroyed. In 1965, 24% of blacks and 3% of whites were born out of wedlock. Today, it is 77.3% of blacks and 30% of whites. And what’s going to happen to all these fatherless boys? They won’t be lovingly disciplined and taught, and so they rebel. We also have killed 60 million babies because of our desire to have sex with whomever and whenever we want. That’s the fruit of our sexual revolution.

We are reaping what we’ve sown. All who hate wisdom love death (Prov. 8:36). What’s amazing in our culture that hates wisdom and hates God is not that these things happen; it’s amazing they don’t happen more often.

So, what’s the solution? We cannot heal the wound lightly. The solution is not grabbing guns. Nor is the solution in going to our guns (although we should keep our guns). The solution is going to our knees. The solution is we need our rebellious heart taken out as a nation and we need to turn in true repentance to Jesus Christ. We need to be forgiven of our sin of rejecting Christ, and the only way we can be forgiven is if we go to bloody Golgotha and embrace the Son of God broken for us. That’s it! He is the only one who can heal our land. The state cannot heal our land. It is a false god. Only Jesus can heal our land, and our prayer must be that we would come to our senses and turn in repentance and faith to Christ.