I hate to be a harbinger of doom, but the mob violence we are witnessing in the United States is going to get worse.

Don’t imagine that this is a “right wing” or “left wing” problem. The mobs inside the Trump rallies and the mobs outside the Trump rallies are driven by the same underlying forces. Are the mobs funded by hidden groups or individuals with an agenda? Maybe. Are they fueled by the politicians on one side or another? Could be. Are they driven by the media and motivated by social factors? Probably.

Is one side more violent than the other? That’s not the point.

The point is that the mobs wouldn’t be able to coalesce and surge to violence without another human factor that nobody is talking about.

It’s the breakdown of the family. Here’s what I mean–everybody needs to belong somewhere. We need a family. We need a tribe. We need a group to love and to love us. When the family breaks down the human person searches for a surrogate family.

This is where the mob, the gang and the urban tribe step in. The lone wolf wants to join a pack. He does so not only for protection and a share in the power, but also because he simply wants to belong. The orphan wants to be adopted by a family. The lost child wants to be find a home.

The authority structure of the gang or the mob provides security. An organized ideology provides an alternative belief system. A plan for action replaces a rule of life. Initiation rites replace a religion and acceptance takes the place of familial love.

The mob mentality is driven by a breakdown of the family, and the breakdown of the family in our society is endemic. The gang or the mob runs on fear, the blame of others, hatred and ultimately violence. It is the devil’s substitute for family.

When I write of the “breakdown of the family” I don’t just mean the neat, American suburban Ozzie and Harriet family. I mean the breakdown of the extended family. When I grew up forty years ago our family was still local. We lived within a tri-County area of Pennsylvania and both sides of my family had been there for seven generations. We were surrounded by grandparents and great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins. We were all pretty much of the same religion, held the same values and were secure in the same world view. We were a tribe, but in a good way.

All of that, for a variety of complex reasons, is broken. I outline some of it in this article: Ten Reasons for the Marriage Mess.

The breakdown of the family is the root cause of mob violence in our society, but the church actually provides an answer. In the breakdown of the family, the church can become an alternative community not of hatred and fear and violence, but an alternative family of love, acceptance, forgiveness and reconcilaition.

In the midst of darkness we can provide a haven and a refuge of light.

We’d better get busy doing it!