TRAGICALLY SEVENTEEN TEENS died in a Florida High School shooting last week. Mass shootings in High Schools are happening so consistently that the nation is approaching a state of panic.
What is the solution? Gun control? Weaponizing teachers? The solution to any problem is usually dependent on a thorough analysis of the cause. So, if we can isolate the cause of the mass murders we can provide an appropriate solution.
We know there is a cause because in the last two decades something has changed. Mass shootings were almost non-existent in the fifties and sixties, but in the late sixties they began to occur, and since then with increasing frequency.
What changed during those decades was the family. It has increasingly broken down. The retreat of fatherhood is the seismic shift of greatest significance. About 35% of our youth now grow up away from their biological father. The causes of this change are multiple, but I want to focus on the two most prominent, the sexual revolution and the emergence of an aggressive, militant feminism.
In 1960, before neither the sexual revolution or feminism existed, only 5% of live births were to unwed mothers, and since many of those mothers eventually married their child’s father, fewer than 5% grew up apart from their dad.
The sexual revolution changed all of this. It decoupled sex from marriage and family. Sex became just another “recreational activity.” In his book, Cheap Sex, sociologist Mark Regnerus makes the point that women are the “gate keepers” of sex. They decide when, or if, a man can have sex. In previous generations, men had to give something up to gain access to this privelege. They had to make a life commitment. It inevitably followed that men were motivated to marry. Not today! Sex is easy and free. It requires no commitment. Therefore, men are reluctant to marry. As my father used to say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
In addition, because it prioritized career over marriage and family, feminism decreased the motive for female marriage. With the advent of the pill, women could now enjoy casual sex with no constraints on their career. Thus feminism also added fuel to the sexual revolution.
In the mid-seventies, as these two movements were gathering steam, George Gilder predicted the decline in marriage that is now occurring. Why marry a woman who brings home the bacon, serves in the National Guard, and rules the household? What does a man have to offer? What is his function? He is just a useless appendage. The result is predictable. Men are fleeing marriage.
Fifty years later the familial foundations have crumbled. In a recent Fox News article, Suzanne Venker pointed out that every mass killer in recent years, with one exception, grew up without the influence of his biological father. Here is the problem. Fathers are desperately needed. Fathers socialize boys. They tame and channel the testosterone-induced aggression that every young man feels at puberty. Fathers transform that God-given aggression into a socially productive force.
But when fathers are absent the opposite happens. As University of Virginia Professor Brad Wilcox back in 2013: “Nearly every shooting over the last year in Wikipedia’s list of U.S. school attacks’ involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place.”
Fatherlessness is the root of many of our other social problems. “70% of juvenile offenders came from single mother homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988). 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control). 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools).”
In light of these facts, is it unfair to blame the mass shootings on feminism and the sexual revolution? I don’t think so. And, if these two movements are the cause, then the only solution is national repentance. If the problem is moral and spiritual, so is the solution.
Of course, this analysis is problematic. Feminism and the Sexual Revolution are two holy grails of contemporary culture. We will never put the blame where it belongs. Without some unforeseen catastrophe, or a great outpouring of God’s Spirit, feminism and the sexual revolution will not be repented of.
As always your comments are greatly valued.