Over the last several weeks, I have wrestled with a question that just will not go away: is there hope for America?
The United States was by no means perfect. There are several black spots on our history: slavery, the relocation and/or slaughter of the American Indian, the internment camps of Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor, McCarthyism, Jim Crowe…
The list goes on. I am not naïve enough to pretend we’re perfect. No nation is.
However, what makes the American idea unique is that it is based on an accurate understanding of human nature. The framers of the constitution knew human nature is fallen.
They were aware that power corrupts, so they made sure to instill a system of divided government and checks and balances, using the strengths of different forms of government while heading off the weaknesses.
It can feel clunky at times, frustrating at others. But I truly believe it works.
No form of government can or will establish utopia. Human nature is by default greedy for wealth and power. That default must be kept in check.
In a word, human nature is sinful.
There was only one utopian kingdom, and that existed only in Genesis 2 when God (the Creator) co-ruled with humans (created in his image) in the Garden of Eden.
Then a serpent, a piece of fruit, and a bad decision wrecked all of that.
Now, a fallen humanity needs a fallen human government to meet objectives that individuals cannot do alone.
Over the course of history, several different forms of governments have been tried.
Monarchy, or power in the hands of single individual, has usually been regarded as the most stable form of government. However, monarchs easily become arbitrary and corrupt. A tyrant might be able to solve a national problem, but then must turn his or her attention to keeping their power.
An oligarchy, or rule by a few, can be used slow down reckless legislation through careful debate. In the United States Congress, only roughly 3% of all proposed bills even make it out of commitee and onto the floor for a vote. In other words, there is a lot of stupid bills purposed. However, oligarchs can also become corrupt through bribery and looking out for their own self-interest.
Even democracy, or rule by the people and hailed as the most noble form of government, is terribly flawed. Of course, the people must have a voice in their government. The power of government must come from the people. However, democracy has regularly been deemed the weakest form of government going back to the early Athenian philosophers. A pure democracy will establish “a tyranny of a majority,” where 50.1% of the citizens can force their will on the other 49.9%, who won’t simply roll over. A simple majority could declare stealing legal.
So, essentially, every form of government is corruptible and far from perfect.
For me, this is what makes the American experiment work. It utilizes the strengths of each type of government while putting a 3 on its weaknesses. No one branch can have too much power, and the people ultimately have the final say.
That is, with one caveat.
The second President of the United States John Adams once wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People.”
And therein lies the problem.
Sadly, we a no longer a moral people.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me: I am not making this claim from a holier-than-thou, hypocritical throne. If you think that, then I assure you you’ve missed my point.
I don’t see myself as better than anyone. I am a sinner saved only by grace. I struggle with my sins daily. I am ashamed of my sin and, were it not for the cross, I would be lost.
I am saying that the collective we are no longer a moral people because our moral compass is gone. No longer do we see ourselves as fallen short and striving to be a more perfect union. Instead, we demand our sin to be accepted lest we risk being called hateful and bigoted.
We have no apprehension toward speaking out of both sides of our mouths, redefining commonly held definitions, moving goal posts when it suits us, and spouting excessive rhetoric that we would find offensive and demand heads roll should those same words are used against us.
This last week alone, in a girl’s locker room at a public school in Wisconsin, an 18-year-old male identifying as trans showered with four Freshmen girls in–let’s just say–all his glory. To criticize this taking of the girls’ innocence is to be slapped with the label homophobe or bigot.
Then, hundreds of teenagers went on a rampage in downtown Chicago, smashing windows and beating up tourists. One six-year-old boy was even shot in the arm. The newly-elected Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson condemned the attacks for making the eyebrow-raising claim: “It is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.”
This national loss of our moral compass appears at levels of our country, whether in the individual or the highest levels of office (I am still reeling from the White House’s idiotic response to a trans person shooting up a Christian School in Tennessee). Washington, D.C., is little more than a clown show, and given the potential leading presidential candidates, I truly fear the clown show will likely continue after 2024 no matter the winner.
Of course, this begs the question: can America come back from this?
I would love to say yes. We came back from a civil war. Anything is possible.
However, upon completion of the temple in Jerusalem, God tells the people of Israel, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). So, there is always a chance.
Yet, sadly, further reading of the Old Testament shows that Israel split into two nations, wherein the kingdom of Israel disappeared following an Assyrian invasion, and then the kingdom of Judah was sent into exile by the Babylonians.
Further, history has shown that superpowers generally crumble from within. Countries come and countries go, and there are no guarantees.
It would take a miracle of God.
I would love to yes but am just not sure. History doesn’t give us good odds.
However, I wonder if that should be the Christian’s primary focus. The body of Christ has a mission and saving one’s country from itself doesn’t seem to be it.
The Christian church has to recalibrate and see our battles are against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12) and not against each other. It’s not Democrats or Republicans, or the left or right, the wealthy or poor, or even socialism or Big-Whatever.
Satan and Satan alone is our enemy.
For Christ-followers in the USA, our primary objective is not the American ideal but the kingdom of God. The North American continent could look very different in the coming years, but the kingdom of God remains constant.
That is what we should live for.
That is our mission.