Gun violence is just a symptom of the real problems facing America, according to Derwin L. Gray, a former NFL player and founder of Transformation Church. He sat down with TheBlaze immediately following his speech at the GameChanger Leadership Summit, which took place at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Monday.
The event brought together a group of dynamic speakers to discuss how coaches and leaders can step up to impact a "fatherless generation." Those included Glenn Beck, NFL star Tim Tebow, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas and, of course, Derwin Gray.
"Too often we look at the symptoms and we treat symptoms, yet that doesn't deal with the cause. And we have a cultural cancer, so to speak," Gray told TheBlaze. "As a pastor, I contend that the issue is not gun laws. The issue is having a heart that is transformed, and there is only one surgeon that can transform hearts -- his name is Jesus."
The pastor said there should still be a national conversation about gun violence. However, he argued, "you don't have to worry about gun laws if a heart is transformed."
"Gun laws are not going to fix the problem," Gray added.
He went on: "It seems like in this day and age, that's so politically charged, we either want to under regulate or over regulate, when the reality is, a law can never change a heart, but the gospel of Jesus Chris can."
Gray was born to a 17-year-old mother and a 19-year-old father who struggled with substance abuse. As a result, he was raised primarily by his grandmother. Lacking the "strong family unit," Gray said he learned discipline, courage and hard work from his football coach at Judson High School, D.W. Rutledge, now the executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association. Sports coaches have a unique role in shaping the lives of young players, especially those with broken homes, he explained.
After high school, Gray went on to play six seasons in the NFL, five with the Indianapolis Colts and one with Carolina Panthers. He later founded Transformation Church in Indian Land, S.C., a multi-ethnic, mult-generational church focused on serving the community.
"One of the major causes [of crime and violence] is a crumbling family unit," Gray told TheBlaze. "If mom and dad are not there, and they are not in a healthy, sacrificial, loving relationship, passing those values along, then kids are going to get values from somewhere else. That's primarily going to be through media, music and various other avenues that are not going to promote being in a stable, healthy marital relationship."
Gray recalled speaking at schools where parents and teachers routinely ask him how to fix the problems occurring with today's youth. He said they always focus on the "symptoms" because it's not "politically correct to say the problem is the basic family unit is fractured and shattered, and it needs to be rediscovered."
"But it seems like everything in our society is moving away from that," he added.
The primary objective of Monday's GameChangers event is to encourage coaches and leaders to recognize that they have a platform to "stand in the gap" and teach character, values and personal responsibility to players and young people.
As the Christian Post points out, studies indicate that roughly 40 percent of children in the U.S. grow up with absent fathers. Those same children are twice as likely to be incarcerated, 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes and 71 percent of all high school dropouts are from fatherless homes, statistics show.