In the mid 1990’s a new disturbing trend began occurring that continues even into the current era. It is simply referred to as school shootings. Some of the city names we became familiar with in this realm are: Springfield, Oregon; Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Littleton, Colorado; Pearl, Mississippi; Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida, just to name a few. When these shootings happen, major media outlets generally invite the experts to find out why.
I recall, one suggestion an expert shared with a reporter after the Jonesboro, Ark. shooting. She claimed that the south was more open to guns, and that young boys were taught to use guns at an early age. She insinuated that this may have helped cultivate a desire to shoot innocent people. This assertion was proven false by the fact that the crime rate in both Paducah and Jonesboro was significantly lower than most of the country. Doesn’t it seem odd that the “gun culture” of the south has been around for centuries, yet school shootings have only been common in the last decade?
For 200 years this nation experienced many ups and downs, but violence among children was never a major news item. Today this is a regular headline. Many civic leaders, politicians, and educators are asking why.
One theory (which, by the way, is my theory) can be explained as much by horticulture as psychology. You see, when I want to eliminate unwanted things from my front yard – like weeds – I pull them up out of the ground. If I break these weeds off above the surface, then they will simply continue to grow back again. If I deal with them at the root, then they never return. The problem with violence must not be dealt with at the behavioral level. The horrors of violent behavior must be addressed at the heart level.
In Genesis 6:5 the Holy Scriptures say, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil.” Such was the state of the world shortly before God flooded the earth. Notice that the problems did not lie with weapons, organizations, special interest groups, or political and governmental parties. Scripture claims that the primary problem with the state of the world at that time was within the heart of man. Men did evil things, not because they had evil toys, but because they had evil hearts. The inward attitude and heart of the human being will produce actions that reflect it.
Many of the politicians, reporters, and experts want to ban guns and secure schools. They want to deal with the manifestation of the problem rather than the root of it. This method is much like trying to weed your flower bed by clipping off the weeds above ground. It does not work, because the weeds always grow back stronger and more numerous.
However, there is good news. God’s method of dealing with evil behavior wipes out the evil heart by forgiveness and salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. There is only one remedy for a heart inclined toward evil, and that is a cleansing of that heart through Jesus Christ. God runs past the evil behavior and exchanges the evil heart for a righteous one. A man who has a righteous heart produces righteous behavior. Ladies and gentlemen, there is no human tool to stop evil behavior, unless we see the need to allow Jesus Christ to change an evil heart. When a heart is changed, the root is transformed into something new. Otherwise, we are just breaking off weeds above ground.