Across the nation, Americans are shocked and grieved following two recent shooting sprees. Mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have taken at least 31 precious lives and broken countless hearts.
John Stonestreet of “Breakpoint”, the Christian worldview radio program, has authored an insightful piece on these tragic events. Stonestreet digs beneath questions about gun policy and asks a deeper question: Why are some young men so alienated that they resort to engaging in horrific attacks?
According to Stonestreet, a recent study of mass shooters found that most have four things in common: “‘early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age’; seeking ‘validation’ in extreme communities, often online; openly admiring the work of prior shooters; and [being] longtime loners with an identifiable ‘crisis point’ like getting fired or expelled from school.” Stonestreet adds two other common traits: The mass shooters are young men, and they have almost always been raised in fatherless homes.
According to Stonestreet, “signs that a young man is headed down a dark road overlap noticeably with signs we see across our culture that young men in general are not doing well.” He adds:
Lacking strong role models and healthy social groups, increasingly left behind academically and vocationally, and floundering for a purpose in life beyond video games, countless males have sought solace in the only communities they can find—usually online—where the foulest kinds of hate, conspiracy theories, and nihilism await them.
Unless we rebuild the institutions of civil society that cultivate young men, there is no way forward.
We certainly won’t fix this problem through government policies or mindless distractions. Only the church, with its kingdom vision and distributed work force, has the necessary resources to target young men with truth, forgiveness, accountability, and hope.
New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation agrees with John Stonestreet. Young men—like all the rest of us—need Jesus. Only He can truly soften their hearts and remove their feelings of alienation.