Today America is as divided as it ever was during the Civil War. Dr. D. James Kennedy has written: "We are engaged ... in another struggle even more fundamental in its character than the Civil War. The question before our nation today is not whether men are created equal, it is whether they are created at all .... " Whether one uses the label "liberal" or "conservative," "progressive" or "orthodox," our nation is divided -- as James Davidson Hunter says in Culture Wars -- by those who hold to "an external, definable, and transcendent authority," and those who tend to reject external authority, reinterpret historic faiths and judge life "according to the prevailing assumptions of contemporary life."
The conflict of visions for our nation is intense. It's a struggle over the meaning of America. The outcome will determine the definition of the family, what will be taught in the public schools, the way law will be handled by the courts, national security, and what will be allowed on television, radio and in print. Ultimately, those who have the votes to enforce their concept of America via the ballot box will decide these questions.
This is why Election 2004 is of monumental importance. Moreover, understanding a Christian theory of government is critical at this stage. To fail to rightly comprehend our religious moorings, unfortunately, will relegate us to the trash bin of history. The Bible teaches the nation that forgets God shall be turned into hell. Quite frankly, the question every American should be asking this election is this: "Is my vote supporting what God demands of the state?"
Certainly God commands there be justice for all. "Thus says the Lord, 'Do justice and righteousness and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place'" (Jer. 22:3). The biblical perspective of justice simply means the state has an obligation to procure sufficient military and police forces to protect the God-given rights of the public to their lives, freedom and belongings. It means we ought to have a fair legal system that protects the innocent -- including the innocent unborn! At the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast, Mother Teresa told the audience that any country that accepts abortion is teaching its people to use any violence to get what they want. If life is not vigorously protected, nothing else is safe.
God also demands government stay within the parameters of its role. Romans 13:1-7 specifically states that civil authorities are to "bear the sword" in punishing those who do evil and protecting those who do right. "For because of this," said the apostle Paul, "you pay taxes" (v.6). Government's role is not child-care, health care, investment, etc. The state should have a limited function, that of securing justice, which America is failing to provide in part, because its energies are dissipated by countless other responsibilities it should have never taken on.
Every year it seems the government accepts a new responsibility, expanding the tax burden. Each election season, politicians tell us by their political posturing they want to provide us with more and more. Government has essentially become "the opiate of the people." We look to it to solve all our problems. Nevertheless, in taking this approach we preempt the genius of private enterprise, the power of charity, and the profound influence of the Church. These serve to make us a better people -- to increase the national character -- to serve the public more effectively than government ever could.
John Cotton, a Puritan and founding father of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, once solemnly warned: "Let all the world learn to give mortal men no greater power than they are content they shall use, for use it they will .... It is necessary therefore, that all power that is on earth be limited."
Because the Scriptures teach the nature of man is fallen and sinful, our nation's founding fathers, who were mostly Christian in their worldview, believed no person or group should ever be trusted with total power. They believed we ought to diffuse power into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. They were convinced this was the best way to preserve and protect liberty.
In recent years, however, our nation has allowed an unprecedented amount of power to be concentrated in the judicial branch. Did you realize every public policy issue tearing away at the moral fabric of our nation -- no prayer in the schools, no posting of the Ten Commandments, abortion, the abolition of sodomy laws, etc. -- were all foisted upon us by judicial activists who were bent on making law rather than interpreting it? This matter alone may prove to undo us, unless we maintain the separation of powers by electing a president who will appoint federal judges that interpret the Constitution according to the framers' original intent, and not as a "living" malleable document. We need justices who will demonstrate judicial restraint by sticking to the interpretation of the law, while leaving lawmaking up to the legislative and executive branches.
Some will contend a government that embraces the principles advocated in this editorial would be a violation of "the separation of Church and State." The concept of complete state neutrality is a damnable notion inconsistent with those of America's founding. John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, said: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was that it connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." Legislation and public policy never operate in a moral vacuum, but always impose someone's value system.
There is no middle ground here. We either maintain the belief that we are "one nation under God," or we support a form of state-sanctioned atheism -- the belief there is no one true God to whom the nation is accountable. When preparing to cast a vote on November 2, keep in mind no candidate is perfect on all of the issues, but some are aiming at the Christian ideal more than others and they deserve our support.