Each year the President of the United States delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Many of these messages are full of empty boasting, posturing, and lavish promises about how big government will fix all your problems.
While I am certainly concerned with the political and socio-economic state of our union, I am even more deeply concerned with the spiritual state of our union. Surely, we cannot put our hope and trust in governmental powers alone to heal our land.
Our Founders articulated a God-centered public philosophy that informed the American pursuit of liberty. President John Quincy Adams believed that Christianity is “indissolubly linked” to our nation’s founding. Today, our country needs to recover its moral compass. Only then can we carve out a viable path for future generations.
At times the hope of achieving that goal seems impossible. As sociologist Philip Rieff argued, America’s secular elite has embarked on a sustained effort to sever our nation’s social order from its Judeo-Christian roots. As Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has demonstrated, Christianity has been displaced from the default position and is now viewed by many citizens as merely one option among many religions, philosophies, and “takes” on life. The United States Supreme Court has flouted the creation order by revisioning “marriage” to encompass same-sex couples.
And yet, there is hope. Great hope. Theologically, we must remember that there is a Power greater than all earthly powers combined—Jesus Christ. He will return one day to set the world to rights, but, in the meantime, He may also act to disempower his secular antagonists. Practically, we must remember this Power recently worked through our Supreme Court to repeal the Roe v. Wade decision in which mothers were given right-to-kill permissions with regard to the weakest and most vulnerable Americans.
Indeed, we must not weary. We must not rest. How can we position ourselves to be God’s ambassadors in a secular nation slouching toward Gomorrah?
First, we must come to grips with the “spiritual state of the union.” We must recognize that the American public square is in crisis because our public moral culture is in disarray.
Second, we must recognize that our public moral culture is in disarray because of America’s recent adoption of a distorted view of liberty. Whereas the Founders believed in an ordered liberty in which individual freedoms played out within the bounds of the moral law, progressive Americans now define “freedom” as the right to create an entirely new moral order. Progressives believe human nature is malleable (e.g., transgenderism), the moral law is malleable (e.g., abortion-on-demand), and universally-recognized social norms are malleable (e.g., gay marriage).
Third, we must recognize that this distorted view of liberty is based on rejecting the Judeo-Christian worldview within which the Founders did their thinking. In place of the Founder’s worldview, many Americans believe that the point of life is to be authentic, that the way to be authentic is to follow the desires of our hearts, and that the way to be a legitimate society is to reinvent America’s moral-cultural-legal apparatus. In doing so, the public stands forced to applaud—and even fund—each individual’s desire-fulfillment agenda.
Thus, if an individual American man wishes to present himself as a woman, the new secular powers-that-be inform us that it is not enough for us to say, “OK, if you want to present yourself as a woman, you’ve got a right to do so.” They argue that we use a myriad of pronouns, pay tax dollars towards mutilative surgeries, and allow the use of bathrooms populated by any gender a person chooses.
Fourth, we must act decisively and do so over the long term. We must pray for spiritual renewal and participate by strengthening our personal witness, our families, and our churches. We must take part in that renewal by focusing our efforts not only in the political sphere but in other spheres, such as business, education, science, art, entertainment, and the like.
We must be in this for the long haul. The long game is a new awakening in which we help American citizens reimagine the world. We help them reimagine the human person, the moral law, and the social order so they are realigned with the Founders’ vision, which was aligned with the Judeo-Christian worldview.
Let us humble ourselves, pray, and seek the face of God. Let us not lose hope, for the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.