The gun shots are still echoing from the halls of Covenant School in Nashville. Innocent lives have been stolen and all those connected to them are turned upside down. Mothers and fathers will never hug those children again. Teachers will never impart another lesson to them. Our nation rightly mourns in sackcloth and ashes as we collectively embrace a heartbroken community.
Instinctively, we wonder what can we do? Or more precisely, how can we stop mass shootings in our communities and schools? Politicians immediately go into debate mode to wrestle over gun control and confiscation. Social media is flooded with trite bits of wisdom aimed at belittling disagreements, “I want to live in an America where people love their children more than their guns,” or, “Cars kill more children than guns.” None of them reveal the depth of the issue or even provide answers to the common lament.
It is easy to blame the prevalence of firearms for mass shootings. After all, if there weren’t guns, there couldn’t be shootings. However, guns do exist, and many responsible, law-abiding people safely own them, but guns are available to irresponsible people too. Firearms have been available to citizens of the United States since before its inception and have been guaranteed by the constitution since 1791. Yet, mass shootings have increased in recent decades. This suggests the problem isn’t guns.
The fact is our nation doesn’t suffer from a gun problem. It suffers from a people problem. This is the conversation politicians, local leaders, and many parents do not want to have. As a nation we have raised increasingly more secular generations and we are harvesting a windfall. What can we do to turn the tide? First, Christians do not need to enter the gun debate because it isn’t a gun problem. One Christian can believe there are too many guns and want to ban them. Another Christian can argue to protect gun ownership. However, it does nothing to address the problem of mass shootings. It is an emotional debate that helps both sides feel like they are doing something, but all they are doing is drive a wedge between two sides. Have opinions and share them but understand they will not impact the violence issue.
Second, Christians need to place blame where it is due—on evil and evil people. The woman who attacked the school in Nashville appears to have had a grudge against that school for its Christian policies and practices. She aligned herself with the devil, a murderer, and she carried out his desires (John 8:44). American culture continues to move away from the idea of God and the supernatural, but in doing so it also moves away from the idea of spiritual evil and Satan. Therefore, people always look for other people, events, or situations to blame when evil strikes. For the devil, it is the perfect ruse. He leads people to do evil, then people blame it on something else. As Christians, we cannot be afraid to call it evil.
Third, Christians need to get busy in evangelism. Solomon said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov 14:34). The devil is not going to spend time teaching the world about righteousness. Society cannot teach righteousness because it is too saturated with secularism and the self. God sent his Son to exemplify righteousness, but he is ascended back to the Father. He left behind the church. The church is the only remaining institution that teaches righteousness. If Christians fail to share the gospel, there is nobody left to share the righteousness that exalts a nation.
Sadly, the world has not just ignored the church, but has spent decades mocking, insulting, and dismantling the church so that its voice has grown all but silent. What the world needs now is love, Christian love expressed in teaching the gospel. The answer to gun violence—or any other violence—is for Christians to change hearts and minds with the gospel one person at a time. Christians cannot be content being marginalized and ignored. We need to speak, shout, and howl until Christ’s message is heard. It is the only real answer to school shootings and the hate underlying them. Sam Dilbeck