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We hear it every time. After a monstrous shooting event in the United States, the pundits question why, and the experts attempt explanations. Why did the shooter want to kill his fellow classmates? What motivated him? Was he an outcast? Was he bullied? Why did the shooter want to kill the people in the church/mosque/dance hall? Did he hate gays? Did he hate Muslims? Did he hate Christians? What were his politics? Was it a mental health issue?

Something must be done, we are told. We must have new legislation about mental health. We need more rules. Offering thoughts and prayers means nothing, some are now saying. On this point, I agree. Sending “thoughts and prayers” statements are strange. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families.” How does one do that? Aren’t prayers supposed to be directed to God?

I think both the Christian reader and I understand the why of all these discussions. Lost, in-the-dark people without God are trying to discover practical solutions to stop people from killing people. They have hope, it seems, that murderous evil can be stifled or eradicated by something humans do. They think the answers can be found in legislation, psychology, or both. This is understandable, of course. What other options do they have? But they have not found an answer. Mass shootings continue. The experts have no solutions because they are looking in every direction except the one that is necessary.

For decades, Christians have been shouting that the degradation of the United States’ culture has occurred because God has been taken out of schools and the government. “What do you expect to happen when you kick God out?” (As if God could be “kicked out” of anywhere.) I don’t agree with them and have not, for these several decades. Praying in school or at government events means very little if people don’t even know the One they are praying to. For unbelievers, such prayers are meaningless—just a cultural tradition. Such traditions have a certain power, but not a very strong one, as we have seen. The Christian culture of the United States is fast disappearing. This has been a good thing, I thought, because people would then see the difference between Christian tradition and the reality of a relationship with God. Realizing that insufficiency, they would turn to Him.

I have been wrong. They have not seen that obvious truth.

It is at this point, however, that I would like to bring up a question, and I am not the first to do so. Sixty years ago, give or take, no one even thought about taking a gun to school and killing classmates or to a dance venue and slaughtering people. I can testify with certainty that such a thought never crossed my mind, and it was never part of the conversations with my friends. Those older than I say the same of their generation.

So, what has changed? Is it because we don’t let kids read Bibles in the classroom any more or pray publicly at some government meetings? Does that make sense to you? Seriously. What has changed in sixty years?

Here is my answer, and I find no joy in offering it: The one who restrains is being taken out of the way, and no amount of jawing about how to stop mass killings or passing legislation is going to stop it.

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8). 1

Let me be quick to add that I have no idea what this taking “out of the way” will look like as it unfolds in its fullness, and I will not offer even the hint of a timetable. In the New Testament, lawlessness has the same meaning as sinfulness. And although this article has focused on the change in lawless violence in the U.S., I could just as easily have focused on the deterioration of other moral laws. Murdering millions of babies. The proliferation of “free” sex and sex outside of marriage. Gender confusion or identity or whatever one chooses to call it. However, most of those in our now-secularized culture do not consider these activities lawless; no, to the contrary, they are needed. How many times have I shaken my head and said, “This is so bizarre. I just can’t comprehend it. Are people really, truly crazy now?”

God is withdrawing His hand of restraint from the United States. People act the way they do in our day because what restrained them before does not restrain them now. Individuals are being given over to their true, sinful nature without inhibition—which is what they have wanted. What lies ahead—inevitably—is the revealing of the man of lawlessness, the man of sin. Very few will be distressed by this. No, he will be welcomed. People will rejoice.

He will fit right in.

Christians, pray that the Lord will have mercy upon the United States of America


1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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