What is the solution to the current wave of violence in our country? Even though statistics show that gun violence in America has been steadily decreasing since 1990, the recent horrific mass shootings leave us feeling heartbroken and helpless. I understand the cry for the government to DO something. No one wants to see any more senseless bloodshed.
Based on what we can learn about violence from history when crime seems uncontrollable, citizens are often willing to surrender their freedoms to the government in order to feel more secure. Sometimes people are even willing to endure living in a police-state. Pre-World War II Germany is a good example. Hitler was largely responsible for controlling crime in his country. We all know how badly that ended, though.
Thankfully, there is a better way to control crime.
Prayer is always good, and I am saddened any time the effectiveness of prayer is publicly rejected or minimized. It is true, though, that just praying for the victims is not the whole solution. Let’s look a little deeper at this problem.
Historically America has been a nation that has looked to God instead of to government for help. That is why, in all of human history, our country has been uniquely blessed. We have experienced more freedom and more material blessings than any other country in the history of the world. We would do well to pause and ask why we have been blessed so much.
I think we can trace the reason for America’s blessings back to November 11, 1620. On that date, a group of English Puritans from Holland did something that had never been done before. They started a completely new idea about government. It began when they signed the Mayflower Compact. Sadly, the words of this ground-breaking document are rarely quoted today and have been ignored by most public school textbooks. Because of this, few know that Jesus Christ was the reason why that first official government was organized on American soil. The Mayflower Compact says, in part: “Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic. . . .” [They intended to land in northern Virginia, but after treacherous storms drove their ship off course, the settlers landed in Massachusetts instead, near Cape Cod.]
Now, 398 years later, we have forgotten that our present form of government was founded with a focus on Almighty God. Patrick Henry, one of our nation’s founding fathers said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” James Madison, the fourth president of the United States declared, “We have staked the whole future of America’s civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions … upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” In 1781 Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, warned us: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the mind of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?”
It wasn’t just the early leaders of our country who believed that submission to God was vital to our well-being. Newspaper editor and New York congressman Horace Greeley said in 1852, “It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people.” In 1917 our twenty-sixth president Theodore Roosevelt predicted what would happen if we turned away from God: “In this actual world, a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at, or ignored their Christian duties, is a community on the rapid downgrade.”
I think that these recent shootings are a good time to turn back to what made our nation great – our greatness is rooted in submission to God’s sovereign will. In 1954 Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren spoke the following to a group of political leaders including the President, the Vice-President, Cabinet members, Congressmen, diplomats, and businessmen.
I believe no one can read the history of our country, without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses . . . Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia . . . or to the Charter of New England . . . or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay . . . or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut . . . the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles . . .
I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people . . . I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.
We not only have the words of some great Americans, but we also have the Word of God. God Himself declares, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). The more Americans who seek the God of Scripture, the closer our nation – and our city – will be to His blessing and protection.
Instead of treating the outward symptoms of our country’s ills, we need to correct the underlying cause of our many problems. “The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death ….” (Psalm 33:16–19).
“God [NOT government] is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).