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A society that worships the sovereign self will destroy itself, like in Parkland shooting


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to a piece written by the columnist Peggy Noonan. The title of the piece is “The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe: What’s Gone Wrong with Our Culture that Produces Such Atrocities.”

It’s a very long list — let me read you just a very small portion of this column. She says, “We’ve been swept by social, technological and cultural revolution. The family blew up — divorce, unwed child-bearing, fatherless sons, fatherless daughters, too. Poor children with no one to love them. The internet flourished. Porn proliferated. Drugs legal and illegal. Violent video games in which nameless people are eliminated and splattered all over the screen.

The abortion regime settled in with its fierce, endless, yet somehow casual talk about the right to end a life. An increasingly violent entertainment culture, hypersexualized, full of weirdness, allergic to meaning and depth. The old longing for integration gave way to a culture of accusation: “You’re a supremist. You’re a misogynist. You are guilty of privilege and you’re defined by your color and class. We don’t let your sort speak here.”

DR. REEDER: Tom, when I was reading her column, I could not help but think two things. First of all, how much I enjoy reading Peggy Noonan. And I don’t totally agree with all of her columns, but she’s usually very insightful and is a wonderful communicator. As many of our listeners may know, President Reagan was called “The Great Communicator,” and I think of the reasons he was the great communicator is he had some great speech writers and she was one of them.

Well, she has put her finger on something but, yet at the same time that she put her finger on the issue that we face today that produces such horrific acts as the Parkland shooting, Columbine shooting, etc., but as she does so, she reveals what I think is an error in her own analysis. And I say this very carefully with great respect for her.

She makes the point that these things are not happening in a vacuum and she uses the metaphor, “Culture is like the air we breathe.” What is the culture of America? What are we constantly breathing in that produces the sickness and the horrific pictures of these slaughters that have taken place?


She makes the point that these eruptions of violence, while it’s fine to look at matters of gun control, to just simply look at that is like looking at an addiction to food, “So, if I outlaw spoons, then somehow that’ll get rid of my problem.” No, what are my predilections and what have I done to embrace this addiction?

Well, she says, “We blew the family up. We blew marriage up. We made no-fault divorce. We produced games for entertainment that are violent — nameless people that you eradicate. We now have the unleashed horror of abortion. We now have moved to infanticide and to euthanasia.”

And she begins to tick these things off but notice how she speaks in the passive voice. It wasn’t the family blew up — no, we blew up the family. We were not victims in this. The air we breathe, that is the culture that we are imbibing from which these horrific acts are now issuing forth in our society, that isn’t something that came to us. That’s something we produced — the air we’re breathing. We’re the ones that produced it, in corporate America, in political America, in entertainment America. In other words, we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.


What is the answer to this? Let me just say very clearly, very plainly what the answer is: a society that produces a culture that glories in the sovereign self will destroy itself. A society that is impacted by the redeeming grace of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the common grace of God through the lives of believers that begin to embrace that which is right before the Lord and articulate clearly a Christian world and life view — not only a life view, but a lifestyle that restrains sin, a life view that speaks to that which is right and good and a life love and that is the love of Christ compels us — that is what is needed in our society. That is what is desperately needed to change the air we breathe.

Tom, when I went to Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, it was called in the early 1970’s “Smog City, USA.” Jokingly, it was said the new Chamber of Commerce promotion moved to Chattanooga. Why? You don’t have to breathe by faith — you know what you’re breathing.

Well, that’s where we are in our culture. The air we breathe in our culture is destroying us, Tom. We breathe sexual anarchy, we breathe in sexual perversion, we breathe in sexual promiscuity. We sell everything from hamburgers to cereals with a hypersexualized society. We have no sense of decorum, no sense of modesty, no sense of humility, no sense of true compassion. We don’t have any of that. We have lost any sense of the sanctity of life.

Here are young men, mostly, who have survived the abortionists: I’m living in a society in which I go into a room, a darkened room, and I play a game of destroying other people and that becomes my self-imposed technological identity. Who am I? I am one of the generation that survived the abortionists. Thankfully, I wasn’t numbered with that 1.5 million that are killed in the womb every year in this country.

And then I survive infanticide. In other words, I looked okay and I didn’t look so inconvenient I was left to die upon my arrival in this world. And then I grow up in a society that is planning on ways to take life when I’m inconvenient at the end of life. I grew up in a society in which I’ve got the pressure to perform and my worth is not that I’m made in the image of God — my worth is my grade point average that makes me someone that my dad and mom can put on the bumper sticker. I now go search for my identity in sexual promiscuity or sexual perversion or I go in searching for my identity by chemical and surgical mutilations of my body to “change gender.”

That’s the despair of the culture that the rising generation is breathing. That’s why it is producing an unbelievable tsunami of depression and proliferation of counseling institutions to get kids off of pornography that are already addicted to it in the elementary ages. That’s the culture we breathe.


Well, what is the answer? Well, the answer is this culture needs to be eviscerated and that it needs to be eviscerated by this glorious movement of the Gospel. Folks, I don’t have another hope, but I do have a sure hope and that hope is found in Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory and grace and mercy.

I know my own lifestyle culture drastically changed when I was converted and, if God’s people can bring the Gospel to those who are lost and say to them, “There is not only a better way — there is someone who is called the Way, the Truth and the Life and I want to introduce you to Jesus Christ.”

And then, in our life of what we speak, the truth, how we speak it in love, what we believe even in our imperfections and embrace which is absolutely honoring to the Lord — if that becomes burnished within our lifestyle, then the salt of Christianity and the light of the Gospel would shine in the culture and there would be a new air to breathe. And that, by God’s grace, this air would not simply be brought to the nostrils of individuals on the Lord’s Day, but would begin to flow throughout our community every day — not having to go to an air tank to breathe it every once in a while, but we would empty the oxygen of that which is glorious and that which is majestic and that is the glory and majesty of God and that we’re made in His image and that He loves us, He is ready to save us from our sins and has done so through the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That’s what needs to penetrate the culture. That’s the air we need to breathe. And, to my dear friends who are listening, it has occurred by God’s grace. We have seen such movements in the 18th century and in the 19th century and may God give us another in the 21st century.

(Image: CBS Evening News/YouTube)

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.