I’m assuming most of my readers live here in the USA. So, when I head into this discussion about God, religion and American politics, you will have a fairly good understanding of certain assumptions.
In the mid1800’s a Frenchman by the name Alexis de Tocqueville travelled the young United States. He was trying to understand it. One of the enduring observations was this: “America is Great because America is good. If it ceases to be good, it will no longer be great.”
As I look at my country of birth, I no longer see a good people. And that, unfortunately, starts with me. I ignored the truths given to me by my parents. I rebelled against my father. I argued nonstop with him. I rejected the authority that God had placed in him. I walked away from church and went my own way. My own morality.
My own morality turned out to be an unbearable burden. A dear brother in Christ preached Grace to me. I still remember uttering the sentence “But, I’m not good enough for God.” I was projecting my own inability to forgive on the Lord of forgiveness.
It has taken years of relearning to get me to where I am. Not that that place is a place of perfection or excellence but able to look back and see the pitiable creature I had become. It was an extremely painful journey, to have layer after layer of sin uncovered in my life. Christ Jesus keeps gently, but firmly moving through my heart. He finds the locked doors, places I try to “hide” from Him. About two years ago he broke down my “workplace” door. He has been busy turning my theology of work on its head.
So, you may be asking yourself, is the discussion of God and politics? Well, I’m terrified of writing on this topic. I was raised in a house of politics. My parents met because of their political activity. And supremely contrarian. They were Barry Goldwater supporters during the 60’s when everybody else was going democrat. So, I can usually get into a good political debate when the other person wasn’t really that interested in a big debate.
So, I’m not going to hit any specific policy issues here. What I’m going to hit is, what is greatness and how that intersects with American politics?
God is infinitely great. He is all powerful, all knowing and all present. He is also perfect goodness. Justice and Mercy. Truth and Grace. Perfect balance.
So, what made young America good? I humbly submit that it was self control. We are an experiment in self government. How can we govern ourselves (plural) if we are unable to govern ourselves (singular)?
Now, I know that many will immediately bring up slavery here. And, I understand. But consider the abolishinist movement. Consider also the prevalence of slavery throughout human history and into today. Chattel slavery was a great evil, and we are better for ending it here in the United States. But I submit to you abortion. We allow the wholesale slaughter of innocent babies. The rational for Southerners was that blacks were not humans equal with whites. Abortionists argue that the unborn child is not really a child, a human with rights equal to those already born.
In my position as a citizen of heaven as a Child of God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, I’m commanded to “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18). The entirety of Romans 13 is appropriate here:
Translation’s title for this chapter: Obey Those in Authority
“13 All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. 2 So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed. Those who do that will be judged. 3 If you do what is right, you won’t need to be afraid of your rulers. But watch out if you do what is wrong! You don’t want to be afraid of those in authority, do you? Then do what is right, and you will be praised. 4 The one in authority serves God for your good. But if you do wrong, watch out! Rulers don’t carry a sword for no reason at all. They serve God. And God is carrying out his anger through them. The ruler punishes anyone who does wrong. 5 You must obey the authorities. Then you will not be punished. You must also obey them because you know it is right.
6 That’s also why you pay taxes. The authorities serve God. Ruling takes up all their time. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them. Do you owe taxes? Then pay them. Do you owe anything else to the government? Then pay it. Do you owe respect? Then give it. Do you owe honor? Then show it.
Love Fulfills the Law
8 Pay everything you owe. But you can never pay back all the love you owe one another. Whoever loves other people has done everything the law requires. 9 Here are some commandments to think about. “Do not commit adultery.” “Do not commit murder.” “Do not steal.” “Do not want what belongs to others.” (Exodus 20:13 15,17; Deuteronomy 5:17 19,21) These and all other commands are included in one command. Here’s what it is. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) 10 Love does not harm its neighbor. So love does everything the law requires.
The Day Is Near
11 When you do these things, keep in mind the times we are living in. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. The full effects of our salvation are closer now than when we first believed in Christ. 12 The dark night of evil is nearly over. The day of Christ’s return is almost here. So let us get rid of the works of darkness that harm us. Let us do the works of light that protect us. 13 Let us act as we should, like people living in the daytime. Have nothing to do with wild parties, and don’t get drunk. Don’t take part in sexual sins or evil conduct. Don’t fight with each other or be jealous of anyone. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ as if he were your clothing. Don’t think about how to satisfy sinful desires.”
As Americans were are the rulers. We are the government. We wrote the constitution, we write the laws, we enforce the laws. If we are good, then the laws and the enforcement of those laws are good. We as Americans are no longer good, therefore America is no longer great. True goodness exists only in The Living GOD. Our goodness is but a reflection of His goodness.
Many of you are now wondering if I’m taking a swipe at Trump here. As the Carly Simon song goes “You probably think this song is about you.”