Engaging Public Theology

Then Anchor Point

The only way one goes to bed and goes to sleep on a night that ends like Tuesday night did this week is by resting in a Sovereign and not attempting to make sense of the news with one’s understanding. The writer of Proverbs teaches us wisdom for life and especially on days like Tuesday when he says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart (your entire being) and trust, not your own understanding.” There were so many contradictions in the incident at Uvalde, Texas shooting. As the bits and pieces will continue to be revealed as the investigation proceeds, some things are to consider.

The Fundamental Questions

Where were the parents in the life of this eighteen-year-old shooter? The only thing I’ve heard or read about their family so far is that he shot his grandmother before he went to the school. With sixty years of experience working in ministry and counseling, including ten years of youth ministry, two years as Dean of Men in a Bible College, and approximately forty years of teaching in seminaries, I must admit that my first thought at the gap in this information precipitates the question, “Did this boy grow up in a dysfunctional family creating many issues with any relationship with adults who could help him process his pain along the way?”

Challenging the President

The next thing that I found extremely troubling was my President’s insensitive tirade seen on the CBS special report late evening. Obviously, President Biden was informed of the extreme tragedy on his flight back from Europe and prepped by his advisors (perhaps more accurately, handlers). He steps into a cold and sterile Whitehouse setting to address the nation. He spends two minutes emoting rather than empathizing with these parents and then the rest of his address on a hypocritical political tirade. If you are a gun control opponent, as he is, I do hope you are not hypocritically pro-abortion as he is. To use the occasion of the unbearable pain of these families to peddle his agenda was unconscionable.

Disgust with the Press

This incompetent fiasco was then followed by the CBS fiasco of insulting the intelligence of the viewing public by repeating in child-like language what President Biden had just said. This was like dumping a five-gallon bucket of gasoline on the fire of my disappointment and embarrassment.

The Rest of the Story

Wednesday morning, I read a piece of the story left out of the national news broadcast Tuesday evening. A Christian publication reported it. The shooter was dead, killed by a Border Patrol agent who rushed into the school without waiting for backup. I hate to be cynical, but I must wonder if that was left out of President Biden’s address and the special report because, as my wife noted, “It did not fit his narrative.” It was indeed known, but it would not have played well with the political opportunity to promote an agenda.

The Real Problem

This blog is not about gun control one way or the other. It is about the fact that gun control is a convenient political hatchet and guns as a whipping boy to avoid the real issue—the people pulling the triggers. Do you want to call it mental health? You could do that. But that means excusing the perpetrators of those trigger pullers and creating a cadre of mental health workers attempting to effect corrections. We have been doing this ever since the Jimmy Carter days and the beginning of the proliferation of community counseling degreed fixers or at least managers.

The real problem is parenting. Even many devout evangelical Christians are virtually inept when it comes to parenting. Oh, yes, take them to church, even Sunday School. But, when I question in-home religious training led by fathers, I am greeted by expressions of embarrassment. When I ask about conversations around the dinner table, I am met with excuses of often suitable activities as to why that is not possible. Several years ago, my wife and I went out for dinner to Laundry’s, now de funk, thanks to COVID policies. Across from us was a table of four. Parents and two mid-level teens. Both parents and teens did not converse–hardly enough to order—because they were completely enthralled in their digital devices. It took a lot of restraint not to confront them. Ah, I can hear some reader citing Matthew 7:1 to scold me for that last comment.

Is poverty the problem? Oh, yes, it is a problem. But it is not the reason for the trigger pullers. That is a heart issue, and often that heart issue is a deep-seated bitterness that the trigger-puller may not be able to articulate. When not addressed, it stirs a cauldron of wrath (resentment) thrashing around in the heart, which gives rise to the outward expression of the anger swelling into screaming matches that give rise to verbally attaching with provocative, demeaning name-calling that will precipitate malice—intent to hurt (check out Ephesians 4:31). 

The Possible Solution

When parents, Dads, and Moms are in concert listening to children, helping them process the hurts and disappointments of life, teaching them how to have realistic expectations, framing life in the context of the living God and His loving, sovereign rule, who demonstrate satisfaction living in a broken world, then we will raise generations who able to live under the civil law. Until we do, lawlessness will increase until the day Jesus Christ returns.

Ok, Considering Gun Control

Well, you say, what about gun control? You just glossed that important point over with fancy language that leaves us with this rash of mass shootings as well as frequently evening news reporting of local murders? I will address your question this way. Even a cursory study of the gun laws in the book will tell you the problem is not the lack of laws, but the enforcement of the laws already at our disposal. But, more importantly, most guns used in everyday shootings are black-market. A good example is a military weapon often used in sophisticated crimes. These are black-market and have nothing to do with the public. Furthermore, the logic of the President could very well be applied to a variety of drugs. Stop manufacturing the drugs and stop overdoses. Stop manufacturing drugs and you stop the black-marketing of drugs. No, evil men will just manufacture the drugs illegally.

As I said, this essay is not about arguing for or against gun control and the disarming of the citizens. It is not about rewriting the Second Amendment. It is about the disintegration of our culture through the abandonment of the Judeo-Christian worldview, and accompanying ethics and the practical living thereof. This essay is a foray into the practice of public theology.

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