The following is part of an email conversation that I had recently. I felt it really got to the heart of some of my current political/spiritual thinking.
I completely agree with the giant problem of fiscal irresponsibility, the redefining of conservatism as of late, especially in regard to fiscal issues, and even identification as more of a libertarian (to a degree). Actually, on the last one, more appropriately, I would be a true conservative Republican. I don’t like some of the libertarian social stances. I know that there is a big difference between having the government decide what I am allowed to do, and me actually doing that. Governments always tend to get more and more restrictive over time. After all, when was the last time you heard of the government repealing a law in order to give more freedom.
However, there is really something to say about the government endorsing something by giving it legal status. This is the reason that they don’t have gun safety classes in high schools. Many kids will use guns anyway. We might as well teach them how to use them safely, so that some innocent bystander doesn’t get shot instead of what you are trying to shoot at (more young people die in gun accidents than street violence).
Of course, we will never see this instituted. Why? Simply because we all know that teaching anything implies the intent to have the person you are teaching actually use that knowledge. This is not an argument against sex-ed (although it is used for that sometimes) or any other social issue particularly. My point is that when the government says “It is legal to do this” (marijuana, let’s say) it is a tacit message to all that the government/the people approve of that.
We have gone astray not only fiscally, but also in the understanding that our system of government is only good in the hands of a moral and upright people. Our leaders have a moral responsibility to act uprightly. I have just finished the Old Testament (I am doing a “read the Bible in 90 days” program) again and this time was struck by how God lays the responsibility of the whole of the people for their actions on the whole of the people. In the OT, God does not deal with mere individuals most of the time. The modern American idea that “It is my life, I can do what I want,” is so far from Biblical hermeneutics, that it isn’t even funny. Biblically, there are no “secret sins.” As Garrison Keillor once said, “My secret sin is no more secret than a tidal wave. When we scream in senseless anger, somewhere, blocks away, a girl we do not even know spills gravy all over a white tablecloth.” I love that quote, by the way. If the government were to legalize marijuana, it would poison the water-supply. Teachers would start forgetting to teach multiplication in 5th grade math classes. Proponents of these ideas have forgotten to look at case studies where these things have been tried.
I no more think that Americanism is Christianity, than I do Icelandism is Christianity. But, I do know that in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed:
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Compare that to Bush’s speech after 9-11, where he called all Americans to go out and by things, or the terrorists will have won.
–I will get off of my soap-box now.
I like the quote you sent very much. It is food for thought. I am preaching this Sunday. I need to go eat food for my stomach now.