Violence and the Secular Society


While it is true that gun violence is impossible without guns, it is not true that the only explanation for school shootings is guns. The thought leaders have settled on one main theory to explain mass shootings, a theory hemmed in by a narrow corridor of acceptable opinion and prevailing fads. It’s tempting to join the mob and explain it all away with the obganiating bromide of “Blame the guns!” But, as Chesterton said, “The powers of this world are now not trusted simply because they are not trustworthy.” So we are left with the question: What is it about American secular culture that forms children who go on suicidal killing sprees?

There are endless statistics about mass shootings that can’t be referenced here.[1] There are also many whys and wherefores, so we must step back if we are to see that the tower is leaning. To start naming the reasons for sin need not imply that there is a limit to those reasons.[2] But four interrelated and unavoidable features of modern American secular society contribute to repeated mass episodes of violence; four things that are seldom talked about by the prestige press. These tendencies have existed in American society for many decades and undergird the reason secular society is ripe for repeatable episodes of mass shootings.

Four Features of Secular Society


It’s false freedom when a nation is full of public law and empty of private morality. It used to be the ideal of American society that everyone could pursue their selfish ends up to the limit of the law. Now those selfish ends are pursued far past the law. A free society with only legal boundaries can never be fully just. People will everywhere perpetuate injustice in the name of autonomy, conflating freedom-for-good with a license-for-evil. When people use their autonomy to flatter the baser nature, the intelligentsia has no explanation but to get rid of the second amendment.

The solution isn’t to get rid of individual freedoms, but to see them in light of and subservient to God’s freedom to create, define and prescribe. The Bill of Rights doesn’t work in a godless society because humans aren’t good on their own. In God’s world, freedom requires dependence on God. Only God is free to exercise autonomy in every way and every direction. Humans are not intended to create the moral scales but to receive God’s and keep their thumbs off.


In government schools, the science classroom and school shootings are united. If humans, like cockroaches, are evolved from goo, then there exist no natural or moral constraints on behavior. Nietzsche admitted it more freely than most in the book, Beyond Good and Evil, where he argues for an alternative morality, namely, one where everything is permissible. This is the case because, as he argues in The Twilight of the Idols, God is dead, by which he means that nobody believes in God anymore. Given his premise, Nietzsche is correct. IF God is dead (as he presumes), then there is no objective truth. The human soul, with all its will, reason, love, and purpose is not real if God does not exist. How then shall we live? This is the question he answers in Thus Spake Zarathustra and The Eternal Return. He argues that most people are weaklings. It is those who live by the supreme virtue of “master morality” that become the Superman by affirming the meaninglessness of life. In the Will to Power, Nietzsche argues that the meaning of life is the will to power, which is naked self-affirmation and egotism. While Nietzsche formulated the logical outcome of Darwinism, school shooters put it into application as consistently as Stalin and Hitler.

The Soviets and Nazis were as enthusiastically committed to Darwinism as the American public school system. The vision of unbound human rule led to the Soviet Gulags, the Nazi death camps, and American school shootings. The problem with school shooters is they were listening during science class. The materialistic atheist has no basis upon which to appeal to moral absolutes. They have no warrant to assert that it is wrong to misrepresent and lie about lab results.[3] And, they have no basis upon which to assert that it is wrong for one person to pull out a gun and shoot another person. On what basis can a Darwinist appeal to objective morality? They may claim that morals are good and necessary, but apart from an absolute standard, namely, an Absolute Personal God, they cannot justify objective morals. The high school student who is listening in biology class begins to intuit, like Nietzsche, that morality is mankind’s worst weakness. This creates a spiritual malaise that leads to the next feature of American secular society. 


Mass murder is the situation where a violent person thinks so little of human life that they shoot people like they might shoot zombies in a video game. It’s a brutalized and dehumanized view of human beings. Three common aspects of modern secular society contribute to the overall problem of dehumanization.

The first is abortion, that murderous blight in modern America that justifies killing in the name of living, namely, that women have a right to not have a child because giving birth might deprive the mother of a lifestyle of her choosing. In effect, the child dies for his mother’s medicine, and in so doing abortion dehumanizes all human life (Prov. 1:18). Abortion is the killing of a living human embryo or fetus, which belongs to the species homo sapiens. Abortion cannot be compared to a miscarriage because abortion is the specific intention to kill a living fetus. In abortion, that which was alive before is deliberately killed—human life is turned to death.

Abortion cannot be justified on the issue of viability, as if killing the unborn baby is permissible when survival is impossible outside the mother’s womb. The lack of viability does not make the human embryo less human or less alive. Rather, it classifies embryos as the weakest and most vulnerable human group in all of society, and thus most in need of protection. A society that has killed 62 million of its weakest members in the last fifty years is living amid tortured moral logic that isn’t just barbarizing unborn humans, but dehumanizing all human life. This is how you get people who cry when children are shot inside a school but not when they are killed inside a womb?[4]

The second aspect of modern society that dehumanizes life is pornography, that ubiquitous presence in modern life that debases all involved parties. Nine out of ten boys have watched pornography before turning eighteen, and many of those regularly.[5] More than 100 million viewers visit Pornhub each day. Those who consume porn are exploiting real people and digging a hole of degradation in their souls. Boys who watch pornography are left with a notion of personhood so warped as to think that females are only for sex or violence. Pornography trains boys to objectify and devalue women in a way that is amplified across all of life and culture. The reason pornography is addictive is that it takes possession of the whole person—physically and spiritually—such that all power of moral action is practically paralyzed.

Pornography also skews knowledge. The Apostle Paul says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5). One of the characteristics of heathens who don’t know God is sexual immorality. A society characterized by porneia doesn’t know God and deserves God’s wrath.

Pitirim Sorokin, the Russian-American sociologist who invented the Social Cycle Theory, points out that harnessing the human sexual drive was the first achievement of civilization. Most people living today have no idea how long it took civilization to restrain the lustful impulses of man. Yet the moral parameters of civilization are undone through pornography, which in Scripture is associated with idolatry (Acts 15:19f, 29; 21:25). Since repentance is turning to God from idols (1 Thess. 1:9), having the right knowledge requires breaking off all association with dehumanizing idolatry, including pornography.

The third aspect of modern society that dehumanizes life is the environmentalism movement, which has as its controlling assumption that humans are a malignant scourge upon the planet.[6]As Christians, we also have controlling assumptions, for instance, that human beings do not exist by evolutionary fluke, but by God’s creative behest. Human beings are supposed to be on earth, use the earth, and enjoy the earth.

A primary point of the earth is human habitation.[7] A key part of human habitation is eating. Jesus says to Peter in Acts 10:9-16, to kill and eat. Consider the cow, that cud-chewing beast of the field. For humans to eat beef requires that they raise cattle. From time to time, cows will release putrid air bubbles filled with methane and carbon monoxide. This combination of gas not only stinketh but, we are told, harms the environment. Should we pass regulations that restrict this? The answer is no. Why not? Because from the Christian perspective humans are to (A) Conserve the earth, and (B) Enjoy the earth. The mistake of environmentalists is when they absolutize “A” and call for the reversal of “B” through arguments for no growth or degrowth.[8] This is an anti-human wing of the environmental movement that elevates the earth higher than human beings, thus spreading a dehumanizing lacquer over American culture.


Since the time of Karl Marx, the Left has been on a mission to destroy the traditional elements of society, which is why Marx called for the abolishment of God, the abolition of organized religion, and the abolition of the family. This element of the Marxist dream is being realized in the United States. The overwhelming majority of school shooters come from broken families.[9] The first question ought to be, “Where is their daddy?” The pre-condition for unchecked moral depravity is when children are deprived of a two-parent home, deprived of a father, and deprived of learning a work ethic, skills, and virtues. There are moral consequences when the family is broken, and when 40% of children are born out of wedlock,[10] that has a sweeping effect on the culture.

God’s purpose for marriage is that children are raised with two parents in the home who form the first social context for life. If there is no father in the home, then no subsequent level of society can fully correct it. It doesn’t matter how much money is spent or what legislation is passed. There is no substitute for the family. Restrictive gun laws can’t correct what is lacking if there is no father in the home.[11] Politicians can’t remediate what is lost through a bi-partisan bill. Single parents do the best they can, but God’s design is that children are raised by a loving and attentive father and mother who are married to each other.

It is impossible to fully understand the repeated episodes of mass violence in society without talking about the destruction of the family. There is no greater threat to children’s moral and spiritual integrity than a broken home. Though a seventeen-year-old is responsible for his actions, society can be judged by the sort of children it produces. Violence in the secular society won’t be alleviated outside of the context of intact families teaching children to harness their grievances, forgive wrongdoers, and function in society.


Lady Gaga, Harvard, Disney, and big tech are the current culture-shapers. Yet they don’t have the moral, theological, or practical equipment necessary to recommend a solution for how to transform a society such as ours. Celebrities race to their microphones and platforms to call for change. Indeed, change is needed, just not the sort of change they have in mind. These four bitter trends are a sign of one overarching brooding truth, namely, the failure of secular materialism. History will keep repeating itself until there is a change, a revival where people in large numbers repent of secular materialism and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. And that repentance means laying siege to the cultural calamities of autonomy, evolution, dehumanization, and broken families.

Jason Cherry is an elder at Trinity Reformed Church in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as a teacher and lecturer of literature, American history, and economics at Providence Classical School in Huntsville. He graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with an MA in Religion and is the author of the book The Culture of Conversionism and the History of the Altar Call, now available on Amazon.

[1] The U.S. has many more mass shootings than most every other country, even though those nations are just as godless. Most perpetrators are suicidal, either killing themselves or arranging for death by cop.

[2] Many social trends of American culture contribute to America’s most violent sins: Identity politics, media hypocrisy, reality television, gangster rap music, and celebrity high-horsing just to name a few.


[4] John Murdock recently wrote, “The remains of five children recently found killed at an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., prompted no media outcry among mainstream outlets. These young ones made the mistake of being killed—potentially illegally, even under today’s laws—at an abortion clinic rather than at a schoolhouse.”


[6] Leftists and those in the scientific community increasingly refer to the current historical epic as Anthropocene, the age of man. They see this as a problem because human needs and wants leads to cities, houses, and cars, which require the use of fossil fuels, which, we are told, is destroying the planet.

[7] More specifically, humans are given the task to multiply and take dominion. The multiply task is carried out by women (all children are born from a woman) and the dominion task is mainly carried out by men. Environmentalism destroys the creation mandate for both men and women, wishing women to stop multiplying and men to stop taking dominion.




[11] See the book by Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhaus, To Empower People. Also see The Recovery of Family Life: Exposing the Limits of Modern Ideologies by Scott Yenor.