The woes of the United States of America are generally thought to be economic. Indeed, the economics are woeful to anyone not completely absorbed in Oprah, American Idol or facebook.
But that’s not what I want to focus on here. I want to see if we can zero in on the real reason we are piling on so much debt; the real reason we are losing our status as the most economically competitive nation; the real reason we struggle so mightily with issues like abortion and marriage.
We have no objective way to determine what is right and what is wrong.
We look at an issue like abortion, and lacking a uniformly agreed-upon moral framework, can’t see whether the rights of the pregnant woman or her growing child should most be protected. Compassionate people sometimes choose one way, sometimes the other. There is no consensus, because so many of us have a moral framework that is ours alone. It’s based on our history, our learned values, and we know of no transcendent authority we can turn to for final adjudication.
We struggle with same-sex marriage, because some of us compassionately ask why gay people don’t have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we do. Others believe that compassion requires us to help those living as gays to see the costs of their choice in physical and mental health and economic terms, not only to themselves, but to our entire culture.
Let’s take a brief look back to see how we became great as a nation, and what has caused us to start down the long, slippery slope from world leader to world follower.
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
The Mayflower compact, according to the public high school textbook Triumph of the American Nation (authored by Lewis Paul Todd and Merle Curti, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1986), said this:
“We whose names are underwritten, having undertaken a voyage to plant the first colony…“
The original document has been lost, Yet nearly every version includes additional language, which makes it clear WHY they undertook the voyage, and why, even though the Mayflower stayed around, and the captain urged them to return on it because many of them were dying, they stayed. The omitted language makes the text read something like this:
“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, having undertaken, for the glorie of God, and advancemente of the Christian faith, a voyage to plant the first colony…“
Beyond historical accuracy, there was one important additional reason to leave the reference to their faith in. They were dying! Why would they decide to stay? The risks were extreme! The escape vessel was still there! The captain wanted to save them! Why would they lay down their lives by staying? Could it be that they genuinely believed that death would only be a doorway into another, better life, and that by staying, they would be laying down a foundation on which future generations could build?
It’s only when we realize that the Pilgrims saw their lives as being part of God’s eternal plan that we can understand how important their faith was to the founding of our nation. Later, our founding fathers wrote “truths”, which they held to be “self-evident” into our Declaration of Independence. Words like “all men are created equal” came directly from their faith. Yet we in our sovereign self-centeredness have determined that any and all references to God or Christ or Christianity must not be allowed in public company. The further we take this belief, the more thoroughly we have removed God from our minds altogether.
Regis Nicoll has written a three-part piece entitled Lessons from Bonhoeffer, in which he poses this question: “It is often asked how a nation steeped in Christian heritage could have embraced a madman whose messianic fancies led the world into war and six million Jews to their deaths.”
How indeed. More to the point, what will the ultimate consequences of our own rejection of the moral framework that has withstood the test of at least 5000 years of history be? Marriage has never before in history been defined as anything other than the union of one man and one woman. And homosexuality has never before in history been accepted as normal, or healthy, or right – at least not by a country that long endured. (Rome, many historians believe, fell in large measure due to its own decline into moral depravity.) It has been tolerated, that’s all. Straight families have been given favored legal status for a reason. It is in the public interest to promote healthy families. They produce, among other things, healthy, well balanced children.
Today, in addition to teaching kids that the Darwinian version of our origin as the only theory worthy of mention, and by implication that the Bible is just myth, we are also teaching them that being “gay” is a perfectly acceptable alternative lifestyle. They are even being taught that same-sex attraction is somehow so hard-wired into some people that they only way they can ever be happy is to live gay. The inconvenient truth is that increasing numbers of people are waking up to the idea that their same-sex attraction is not wanted, and that they can, with the right help and support, become ex-gay. Take some time to listen to Greg Quinlan, the current president of PFOX (Parents and friends of ex-gays) and an ex-gay himself.
So, if gays are only a minority group because of their behavior, do they really deserve to be granted favored legal and tax status? What other minority group deserving of special protection under the law is comprised of people who can simply choose to no longer belong to the group? No surgery. No legal procedure. Just change your behavior. Bingo, you’re no longer a member of our minority group. It’s like millions of people have been forced to wear special glasses, that only allow some truths to filter through. We are told that gay people can choose to be ex-gay. If we were to think about it, we would see with crystal-clarity that that changes everything.
I pray that one day in the future some writer has no reason to pose a question similar to Nicoll’s.
It is often asked how a nation steeped in Christian heritage could have embraced the notion that morals don’t matter, when history is littered with the remains of nations who did so, and failed? Nobody ever thought Rome would fall. But it did. Now that the United States of America has fallen, what have we learned?