The Space Between

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Here we are, thoroughly into the 21st century and America finds herself up against the greatest dilemma of her 237 years – what do we believe? All of the problems we now face swirl around that question and the corollary storms that spin off from it. Whether we discuss going into Syria, legalizing drugs, funding abortion, redistributing wealth, mandating health care, authorizing the Keystone pipeline, or supporting gay marriage, our core beliefs, or lack thereof, determine our stance. Despite the prevarications of progressive teachers and professors, this country was designed for a believing, God-fearing people; freedom is not possible for those who will not control them selves.

What we believe no longer looks like what the founders believed. The main difference is that religious belief has been relegated to merely a matter of what we do or don’t do on Sundays, to a club we join, or a man-made phenomena on the order of the spells cast in fairy tales or local legends that have been enhanced and embellished beyond all recognition.

We seem to assume that chronologically speaking, man happened and then he invented God. Therefore people think that a belief in God is just fanciful nonsense and that the 1st Amendment is meant to protect us from such silliness. It never occurs to those enmeshed in those assumptions that God may actually be real or that those of us who show up for church on Sunday morning may be there not because it’s a club meeting, or an old crusty habit, but because we know deep in our bones that God is more solid than the pews we sit on.

Our founders knew of God’s actuality and very few questioned His sovereignty in their lives. They varied in how they understood Him, but the evidence is overwhelming, from both personal and public writings, that these men found God to be fundamental in their lives, and in the well-being of this new country they were creating. They would be shocked today to see that we have relegated Him to nothing more than a frill, tucked tidily away in our vest pockets, for use only on special occasions, or worse yet, treated as something to mock and jeer at, some nonexistent being with whom to be angry.

But why has our national viewpoint on this key issue changed? We can place blame on many different shelves: public schools and the assiduous effort at removing God from the curriculum – if a child studies for 12 years in an environment where God is never mentioned, might he not come away with the idea that God is not very important? ; the unquestioning assimilation of both the “scientific” and educational systems of Darwinian evolution; our ungrateful response to our unheard of prosperity; the breakdown of the family – I could go on. It’s becoming evident that the “neutral” ground on which we try to operate our public machine is nothing but quicksand and we’re sinking. Our nation is not what it should be.

How do we know what a nation should be? And according to whom? Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that God is real, and has made us for a purpose. If that is true, He owes us instruction, explanation, encouragement, and He owes it to us on both a personal and a national level. We need an instruction manual. Well, I’ll be darned -- we have one, and this manual addresses both personal and national procedures and practices. Of course we can’t talk about it in public schools. We can’t display parts of it in public places. Why ever not? It is from the Bible that the founding fathers derived much of the plan for our government.

I can hear you shouting about the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
I’m not advocating the making of any laws or suggesting that we establish a national religion, only that more of us look honestly at the overwhelming evidence – both historic and scientific – that God exists, and start conducting our affairs accordingly. I am pointing out that there is no middle ground here, no politically safe no-man’s-land on which to stand. We are either a nation that tries to follow the rules for national freedom presented to Moses in the 20th chapter of Exodus or we are working against Almighty God. On the off chance that He might be the reality of realities, that seems a precarious position to be in.

Having taught in public schools for nearly 30 years I am well aware of the impact this false separation from God has had. In an attempt to offend no one we fail to teach anyone. We have created curriculum so devoid of truth that fewer and fewer students are willing to bother to learn it. We have taught, instead of the traditional, national Christian perspective, a progressive, secular humanist religion in which the basal tenet is that there is no absolute truth, thereby erasing all moral standards, all reason for learning or caring about anything. And then we wonder why our kids do drugs instead of homework.

If we take God out of public life we effectively denounce Him. Things never went well for Israel when she tried to do that. Check out Leviticus 26. The five cycles of national discipline delineated there were designed for Israel, not the United States of America, but Israel was designed to be the prototype of nations. (By the way, can you explain the continued existence of Israel without the existence of God?)

Can you imagine this country if most of us humbly and regularly recognized God’s glory and wisdom, if most of us did not covet our neighbors’ possessions, if we avoided adultery, theft, lying?What would it be like if we respected our parents? What if murder* was truly rare – even in Chicago? Would this not be an unbeatable nation?

These issues are not really a matter of law; we have laws against theft, and murder, and legal consequences for lying under oath (though we have presidents who do so). We have laws for sorting out the results of adultery. But laws do not suffice. Treating those instructions for national behavior as real, as true, as necessary must come from the heart of individual Americans; that choice can’t be coerced.

Even more important than following the instructions for national freedom is the establishment of a personal relationship with God, which is not something that can be accomplished by following the rules. The one commandment that is most important is to merely accept the free gift of an eternal, unbreakable connection with Him; the free gift is perfect Christ’s effective payment for our imperfections. The wages of sin is death. We sin; Christ died so that we don’t have to. Then He rose again.

But isn’t that intolerant? No. Isn’t this religious oppression? No. People are going to do what they are going to do; we are free will moral agents. I am not telling anyone how to behave or what to think. I’m telling you what God wants you to do. I know what He wants because He wrote those commandments on stone right in front of Moses. He even made Moses a second copy. Then, He sent His son to die for you. You choose.

But know that the consequences for that decision will be suffered by all of us. The huge gap between what Americans believe and what is actually true is getting wider and wider. Soon the space between will be so wide we won’t be able to see each other anymore. As Abraham Lincoln said, “ United we stand, divided we fall.” And falling will be really ugly.

* “Kill” in the 6th commandment is the Hebrew word ratsach which means premeditated murder or murder in the heat of anger. It is not a prohibition against all killing.