In the wake of the Parkland school shootings and the debate & protests that have followed, there has been one thing nagging at me. Both sides in this debate want the easy answer.

For gun rights advocates, the easy answer is to leave things as they are. No one affiliated with the NRA is happy about these school shootings. People who engage in hunting or shooting sports (or just keep a gun for protection) value life and wish these things didn’t happen. But they see that bad things are going to happen in an evil world and limiting constitutional rights isn’t worth what would be a failed attempt to stop violence. Besides, we more need more concealed carry training so Americans are prepared and allowed to defend themselves. That’s an easy answer.

For gun control advocates, there must be a way that laws could be put in place to stop the innocent slaughter of kids in school. And so they debate legislators and hold rallies in an attempt to find the set of laws that will prevent this sort of thing from happening again. Again, it’s an easy answer.

Neither of these easy answers will solve the problem because neither addresses the root cause of the violence: sin. When we look at the background of the shooter at Parkland (or Sandy Hook, or Littleton…) we see a young man who had a seriously rough life. In this way he was sinned against. There are children in every classroom who are in similar situations. They are dealing with broken homes, abandonment, abuse, poverty, and general physical, emotional, & spiritual neglect. They are sinned against by the people charged with protecting them and by the world at large. That’s the common denominator in all of the school shootings.

That’s not to excuse the shooters. There is no excuse. But it goes a long way to understanding why arming every American or passing more laws won’t stop the shootings. Those easy answers are attrative because we want the problem to go away quickly and with as little effort on our part as possible. We want a stroke of a pen to make it all go away.

The answer to gun violence is simple. Kids in classrooms need to befriend those who are normally outcasts. They need to be more accepting of the kids who seem weird. Adults (teachers, neighbors, family members) need to invest their time in these kids so they know someone loves them and that they are valued. The same goes for kids in high-crime urban areas. Why woudn’t we expect kids subjected to abandonment, abuse, and neglect to get violent? And ultimately these kids need to know that God loves them and created them for a unique role in this world.

This answer is simple, but hard. It requires us to sacrifice time and comfort to build into other people, some of whom aren’t even in our family. And that’s why I think we’ll still have one side pushing for more guns and the other side pushing for fewer. Those are easy answers. And ones that won’t work. The real answer is very hard.

There’s a simple way for us to significantly reduce the gun violence in the United States. I mean, it’s simple. But we’re not going to do it.

No, it’s not passing new gun laws. I’m not simply expressing my opinion. In a thoughtful piece in the Washington Post, a statistician who is personally anti-gun admits gun laws won’t reduce gun violence. She and her colleagues analyzed gun deaths in the United States and found:

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.

But what about the other one-third of gun deaths? Isn’t there a law that could keep some of those from happening?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

Understand, the writer wants new gun laws to solve the problem. But she examines the numbers with integrity and finds they won’t have a significant impact. Relatively few people die in mass shootings (although even a single death is horrific). Most die from suicide, gang/drug killing, or domestic violence.

Her conclusion is the only way to prevent gun violence is to have people step in to help others in these situations. It requires “being there” for people who may be prone to suicide. We need mentors for young people who are at risk of being involved in gangs and/or drugs. We have to give the police the resources they need to step up protection for women involved in violent domestic situations.

And that’s why I say the solution to the gun violence problem is simple, but it’s one we won’t do. Solving these shootings requires us to get involved on a daily basis. It takes a lot of time and energy. It gets messy. It’s emotionally draining. We live busy lives and often lack the patience to give hours and hours to help people who need us in these situations. And because of that the gun deaths continue.

Certainly I’m not speaking about everyone. There are many who do try to help. But not enough of us (yes, I’m including myself in this) make the time and energy sacrifice necessary to make a real difference. The stats show us laws won’t stop the violence. Only people can do that. Will we finally step up?


Unless you were totally engrossed in trying to find a mattress deal over President’s Day weekend, you’ve heard about the comments made by provocative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. You can listen for yourself in the video below. He certainly seems to defend pedophilia. He also refuses to reveal the names of known pedophiles.


Outrage was swift and severe. It began on Twitter and CNN’s Jake Tapper may have said it best.

Milo had a book deal canceled. His invitation to speak at CPAC was rescinded. Just as he was beginning to get significant nationwide name recognition (after his planned appearance at UC Berkeley was called off because of protests in which fires were set) his career is now crumbling. Why?

When I ask why, I genuinely mean why is he wrong in what he says? Why isn’t it ok to support pedophilia?

Here’s the reason I ask. For many years philosophers and social scientists have argued morality is something created by humans intentionally or because of evolution. The theory is at some point humans either decided having rules in society is a good thing or evolution led them to it involuntarily. They either consciously decided being kind to one another or having a set of rules agreed to by society would be better for them or something in the evolution of their genes gave them a conscience.

This is an argument made by many atheists as they try to prove God doesn’t exist. They believe since there is no God there can be no sort of objective morality. You may often hear the phrase, “morality is just a social construct.” There is no permanent and absolute right and wrong. It can all change.

If these arguments are taken to their logical conclusion then none of us can concretely say pedophilia is wrong. Neither is torturing children. Neither is a mass shooting. If there is no God who stands outside of and above humanity, who is anyone to say anything is truly immoral?

This is why debates concerning God’s existence are vitally important. If there is no God then morality is something that shifts from culture to culture. Surely different communities accept differing actions. But without God there is nothing that can be absolutely wrong. Including sexual abuse of kids.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I do believe in a God who allows us to clearly understand absolute right and wrong. Abusing kids is wrong, absolutely. It is evil. But if God doesn’t exist then everyone can truly do whatever “is right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Without God, Milo could be right. And that would be wrong. Or would it?

I made several phone calls the night the Cubs clinched a spot in the World Series. One was to my former little league coach, who was sobbing on the other end of the line. He’s 74, retired to Florida, and recently lost his wife. He’s been a huge Cubs fan his whole life. When the Cubs made it to the World Series for the first time since 1945, he cried.

Another phone call was to a good friend who doesn’t like baseball or the Cubs. She’s not hostile. Just not a fan. I’ll admit I cried that night and was a bit choked up on the phone with her. She was confused by my emotion and said, “I just don’t get why people are so excited about a game.” She wasn’t being mean. This wasn’t mocking. It was a moment of honesty from someone who isn’t a fan of the Cubs or baseball.

In the week after the Cubs clinched, I’ve cried some more. Not full-on weeping, but I’ve gotten choked up. A lot. And I’m not alone. Men all over America have been a little more emotional since the Cubs won the pennant. Why?

Like my friend who isn’t a baseball fan, many think the tears are falling because of happiness about a team’s success. Surely that’s part of it. But that’s not why they’re crying. It’s much more personal than that. There are two reasons and they are closely connected: nostalgia and family.

Nostalgia: Before lights were installed at Wrigley Field in 1988, all Cubs home games were played in the afternoon. That meant kids like me came home from school to the Cubs on TV. Even when school let out in the summer, I’d either see the games on TV or hear them playing on the radio as my dad worked in the garage. I loved Harry Caray and wanted to be him when I grew up (minus the Budweiser). The whole reason I’m in radio is because I struck up a conversation with a minor league baseball broadcaster when I was in high school. He did what Harry Caray did, and I wanted to know more about it. He arranged a radio internship and that launched my radio career.

A big part of my childhood and career featured the Cubs. Thus, seeing them enjoy success reminds me of my childhood. And those are good memories.

Family: The other reason is connected to the first. I never would have watched or listened to Cubs games if my dad didn’t have them on. He came to the mainland from Puerto Rico in 1958 and somehow latched onto the Cubs. He was a quiet man, but would jump off the couch, screaming and clapping when a Cubs player hit a homerun. He loved them.

Growing up I lived a block from my great-grandfather’s house, so I spent a lot of time there as a kid. He too loved the Cubs (though he also watched Sox games) and I spent many afternoons in his den watching the Cubs.

Both my dad and great-grandfather died before being able to see the Cubs win a World Series. My former little league coach’s wife died before she could see one. This, hopefully, explains our tears. They’re not really because of a team’s success (though that’s part of it). They’re really about longing for a return to a childhood that seems so far removed from today’s record murders and political tension. We cry because we miss the loved ones who never got to see this. We miss them and we want them to be here to enjoy it with us.

That’s why so many grown men are crying. And it’s a good thing.

Now my kids watch the games with me. Imagine the thrill when we all jumped up and down, yelling, screaming, and hugging each other when Addison Russell hit the grand slam in Game 6. My children are young and don’t really understand what’s going on. But we’re enjoying this together.

And I fully expect 71 years from now I’ll be gone, my kids will be watching the Cubs in the World Series, and they will be crying. And it will be a good thing.

When seemingly inexplicable tragedy happens people want answers. But the answer to the “why” question is different depending on who is doing the answering. Why do these things happen? Here are 5 thoughts.

  1. Evil is real. This is tough for some people to admit. In fact, it may go completely against their worldview. If you believe completely in Darwinian evolution then it’s impossible to truly call something universally evil. One person’s theft is another person’s score. There are no absolute rules in the animal kingdom and there can’t be in humanity either if there’s not a being in charge of people who can declare something evil. The Bible with its story of God as creator and lover of people, along with humanity’s rebellion, not only allows us to explain the origin of evil but it also allows us to define it. Evil is the result of rebellion against God. The whole world suffers from it. And when a cop shoots a person unjustly or a man plows a truck into a crowd at a holiday celebration, that’s evil.
  2. Politicians can’t get rid of evil. Some think if we just get enough Republicans or Democrats elected, then we can clean this mess up. At times, both parties have had dominant positions in Washington and locally in several states. Evil still exists and flourishes.
  3. New laws can’t get rid of evil. Sure, they can restrain evil. The Bible says the state has “the sword” (Romans 13:4) for good reason. Laws, cops, courts, and armies can all keep evil at bay. But ultimately since the Bible teaches that evil is at work in every aspect of our world (1 John 1:8,10), no law can stop it entirely.
  4. Only Jesus can get rid of evil. The only hope of the world is Jesus. If we want to see less evil then the hearts that contain it need to be changed. When the gospel (God’s good news of salvation) is embraced, God changes a heart so it begins to desire God instead of rebelling against Him. Without God working to change our evil desires we will give in. We may not commit a mass killing, but our lust, gossip, gluttony, greed, and lies are destructive too.
  5. In the end, God completely gets rid of evil. The book of Revelation is a challenging read for anyone. But its big theme is the victory of God over evil and its removal from the world forever. We should long for this day along with John, the writer of Revelation, who says “Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20). Perhaps we need to spend more time focused on our future and living today in light of that.

Even though we’re still waiting for the day when evil will be gone, God gives us little pockets of what it will look like. Some members of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church took to the streets to pray for police officers in the wake of the Dallas sniper shootings. It’s a powerful show of how God can change hearts. Let’s embrace prayer, God’s love, and the truth of His gospel each and every day.

Target’s decision to allow employees and customers to “use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity” is just the latest move in a national conversation on gender that’s boiling over. Target made a strategic business decision designed to win more customers than it loses. Target’s bosses have the right to lead their company as they choose. And customers have the right to shop there or go to Meijer or Wal-Mart. That’s business. But beyond simple commerce there are a few results of Target’s decision that need to be addressed.

  1. It joins those with gender-identity issues with predators. Because of the size of its company, Target’s decision has taken the national discussion to a new level. And within the conversation those dealing with gender dysphoria and predators are mentioned in the same sentence. This is unfair to those genuinely in the midst of gender-identity confusion. These are real challenges faced by many people. Mark Yarhouse has written sensitively and clearly on this in his book Understanding Gender Dysphoria. Instead of creating an atmosphere where people feel “accepted, respected, and welcomed,” Target has unfairly caused a group of people to be even more misunderstood and feared.
  2. It creates more vulnerability for women. Not only does Target’s decision lump predators in with those facing gender-identity confusion within the larger discussion, but it genuinely creates a space for  women to be preyed upon. The University of Toronto discovered this when it designated dorm restrooms and showers gender-neutral. Surprise! Men tried to film women in the showers by putting their cell phones over adjoining stalls. There are bad men out there. Why would Target create a space where these men have easy access to women in intimate spaces?
  3. It ignores Target’s family restrooms. This was a policy that was completely unnecessary. In response to criticism over the decision a Target spokeswoman pointed people who are uncomfortable with the policy to its single-stall family restrooms. But wouldn’t it have been just as easy to allow transgendered employees and customers to use these restrooms instead of inviting them into the larger restrooms?
  4. It may hurt more than it helps. Dr. Paul McHugh is a highly respected psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins. He’s not motivated by religion or political ideology. He’s simply a scientist who says decades of interacting with people who claim to be transgendered has shown him that when people are supported in their transition to their non-biological sex or gender there is often more pain for them and their family. In fact, Johns Hopkins stopped doing gender reassignment surgeries because the psychological outcomes for the patients were so poor. Instead, he encourages supporting these men and women in getting the help they need to stay in their birth gender.
  5. It continues the narrative that gender distinctions don’t matter. This is just the latest policy change in Target’s campaign to erase gender distinctions. The underlying policy downplays the scientific reality of distinctions in sex and gender. Men are men. Women are women. And God created them this way for a reason. I don’t expect Target to make its policies based on the Bible. But Christians need to explain how precious sex and gender distinctions are. God loves people and created them “male and female” in order to allow them to understand how the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are in relationship with one another. Certainly theirs is not a sexual relationship. But God creates people equal in value, but different in important ways in order to help us understand Him better. This needs to be celebrated!




Yes, the title of this post is provocative. Blog titles are supposed to be. But let me say immediately that I’m not trying to be disrespectful to the victims of the September 11th attacks or their families. Not at all! But, on this 14th anniversary of the attacks, please don’t say a word about it to me.

This morning I was driving on I-290 listening to a friend’s radio show on Moody Radio Cleveland on my iPhone. As they talked about the anniversary and started recalling some of the details of the heroism and loss, I started to cry. I mean really cry. There I am riding along on the Ike with tears streaming down my face. My heart was hurting. Why?

I think I’m starting to understand how the Greatest Generation feels about Pearl Harbor. For decades they’ve talked about it with tears in their eyes, usually to a generation that really doesn’t want to hear about it. Their emotion still seems fresh. You can see the pain in their eyes. One day in a place that seemed far away, our entire nation was shattered. Not only were many lives lost, but our country’s feeling of invincibility was crushed. Dead people and a rocked worldview have a way of impacting you even decades later. On the 14th anniversary of the attacks, we now have 2 generations of Americans who are removed from that day. I wonder if they are impacted by the story in the same way as people are when a senior talks about the war.

I covered 9/11 as a news reporter in the midst of thousands of people who were trying to get home via trains at Union Station in Chicago. I wasn’t in New York, Pennsylvania, or Washington. No one I know personally died that day. And yet, it hurt and still does.

Please continue to talk about the attacks so those who lost their lives (in the crashes and trying to save people) are never forgotten. They are true heroes. Relay the story so a non-Christian world will know there is such a thing as evil (and offer God as the good alternative). But please don’t talk to me about it. It just hurts too much. I can’t handle it yet. And maybe I’ll never be able to.