Mass shootings with human beings as targets have become a common occurrence in America.
Sometimes it’s a lone gunman at a store in Texas, a school in Florida or a concert in California.
More often the violence is in cities with strict gun laws like Chicago, where thugs regularly blow away their rivals.
The result is always the same: human carnage.
Another great human tragedy that seems to go largely unnoticed is the steep increase in suicides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2017 alone: “There were more than twice as many suicides (47,173) in the United States as there were homicides (19,510).”
CDC statistics also reveal that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in America among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.
According to the American College Health Association, suicide doubled among girls 15 to 19 years old and grew by 30% among boys between 2007 and 2015.
What’s causing all of the human misery? More homes with guns? The fact is that the percentage of U.S. homes with guns has not increased from where it was decades ago.
One thing that has changed is the shattering of the American family.
Social science researcher Pat Fagan of Marri.us has pointed out that 12 of every 100 U.S. babies were born out of wedlock or to a family that would suffer divorce in 1950. Today, for every 100 babies born, more than 60 are born out of wedlock or to a family that will soon fracture.
As much as we want to deny or wish away the harmful effects of divorce, a broken marriage often results in brokenness in the hearts of children.
What else marks modern American culture? A media that spews violence 24/7, a male obsession with shoot-’em-up video games and the proliferation of pornography that treats people like meat.
In fact, we’ve now raised an entire generation on a steady diet of media that degrades humanity at every turn.
The deadliest change in American culture? Our failure to worship God.
Fewer families attend church, and children have little or no religious upbringing, leaving them ignorant of biblical truth and the support that a faith community provides. Children are no longer taught that God declares that their lives have purpose and meaning.
In fact, when the way America treats our preborn also changed, we emphatically declared that the value of a human life is relative, based on whether it is “wanted.”
When you add all of this together, are we truly surprised at the helplessness, hopelessness and anger that consume our young adults in record numbers?
Is it any mystery why America is in the midst of an opioid crisis? Or that millions of people now suffer from depression and other mental illnesses?
It’s time for all Americans of good will to commit to transforming our culture. The message that must be sent loud and clear through every American institution is that human life has infinite value and limitless potential. Our children and society are literally dying to hear the words that there is a God that loves them, that made them in his image, that calls them to be his own.
As Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevins remarked during a recent event: “You want to take away any kind of morality and change the mores of a nation, remove any sense of higher responsibility. Try to pin it on any one thing and assume the government and a piece of regulation or rule is the solution, and then we’re shocked when these things happen. We’re kidding ourselves.”
The entirety of his remarks can be viewed on YouTube and is useful for people of all political persuasions who truly want to examine the causes of our current culture of death and seek solutions.
Until Americans face the realities of how our toxic culture is damaging our young people, they will increasingly live in sadness, abuse their bodies — or even kill themselves and snuff out the lives of others.
Perhaps President Trump will convene a bipartisan task force to examine the root causes of our societal ills and the possible solutions.
Certainly, churches and organizations should join hands, fall to our knees and seek God’s wisdom for a course of action.
• Next week: America’s need for spiritual revival.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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