Making America America Again

All thinking people in this country have concerns about the moral state of our nation -- the rampant sexual promiscuity and perversity, our willingness to accept lying, our lack of concern about drug abuse, to name a few examples. We know in our bones that no society can succeed in that state -- no society ever has.

So we are thrilled to see Trump successfully holding the ship of state steady through this storm of anti-God ideas and behavior.  The abortion rate is going down and abortion clinics are closing. People are beginning to register disdain for blatant political prevarications. We’re pulling our kids out of schools that encourage sexual exploration. We’re enjoying that wholesome feeling of being proud of our country.  Those are encouraging symptoms; the prognosis is looking better.

Therefore it’s time to be looking a little further ahead. The nation’s recovery must continue on past our time in recovery. Barring wholesale, massive vote manipulation, it looks like we’ll enjoy another four years of Trumpian treatment, but then what? That isn’t a political question; it’s a moral question.

Over three thousand years ago, God gave Moses a list of ten laws designed to help Israel become a successful nation. The Jews had just come out of Egypt after 400 years of captivity and had no idea how to be an independent national entity. These laws were the beginning of that identity.  History shows that when the Israelites obeyed those laws, they prospered; when they didn’t, horrible things happened.

A quick perusal of the Ten Commandments makes it clear why they were necessary. Belief in God and a prohibition against worshiping any manufactured deities seems self-evident. All morality has to have an authoritative origin, or it’s nothing. So it starts there.  The laws also protect family structure -- the basis of any society -- by demanding respect for parents and marital fidelity. They protect private property and the sanctity of life. They prohibit dishonesty -- without trust there can be no productive cooperation. But the last is the most interesting; it nixed envy. The last 100 years of history has demonstrated why. Envy (manifested as communism) killed at least a 100 million people last century and is coming close to undoing this nation. These commands are not some irrelevant, arcane, antique system. These are the bedrock of human social interaction – God first, family second, and third, a sure and steady respect for our fellow man. Christ narrowed it down to two: Love God and love others as yourself. You can run a country on that.

Yet in the last 50 years we’ve seen a surge of rejection and ridicule of these ideas. This rejection was sold as inclusivity -- a noble and hospitable idea. But here’s the rub: societies can enforce their morality either by passing laws -- a cumbersome and ineffective approach -- or by promoting adherence to the code of ethics with social pressure.  That’s what the left has been doing for decades with political correctness. Those of us who continue in the ways of the God of the Exodus have borne nonstop ridicule and castigation from these people for decades.

It has been easy to relax those rules and to be oh so and understanding of those who totally reject them. We’ve buckled nicely into this they-were-born-that-way acceptance of homosexuality. We (many of us) have loosened our hold on the sanctity of life, preferring instead misbehavior sans consequences. It’s much more pleasant that way. We’ve not been critical of corruption -- after all, it’s easier to just look aside; these people are dangerous. We’ve opted for a phony tolerance in lieu of an honest assessment of each other’s demeanor. We’ve ripped “Thou shalt not judge,” loose from its moorings in Matthew and used it for an excuse to excuse all aberrant actions. We’ve elected pedophiles and crooks and, I suspect, murderers. We’ve left our children with sexual predators. We’ve given those children easy access to addictive and mind-destroying drugs. Our moral laxness is not political -- it’s much deeper than that.

I’ve been using the pronoun we, and not they, for a reason. I suspect that at one level or another we’re all a little guilty. We turn on our TVs, go to the movies, listen to the “music” of the day. We’ve stayed friendly and accepting of people who have destroyed their marriages, of people who imbibe more than is good for them or their families, with people we suspect are addicted or attracted to one drug or another. We dress our daughters like we’re sending them out on the streets. We’ve gone along with the demolition of our principles.

We don’t want to be nasty. We don’t want to slip into feeling superior. We don’t want to be the busybody “church lady” that TV comedy has had fun making fun of. We don’t want to be the Pharisees.

But Americans are going to have to find a balance between being neighborhood tattletales and being libertines. We have to engage in very tough love. We’re going to have to call out our friends and relatives and we’re going to have to do it firmly yet lovingly, and all at a time when even thinking in derogatory terms about sin is considered hateful. Worse yet, we’re going to have to behave ourselves. The problem is that you can’t have a happy society that’s only a little bit moral.

Now, it’s true that you can’t prove anything about the future because it’s the future, so the slippery slope prognostication doesn’t gather many adherents, but we can look backward and see that we have, indeed, slipped a long way down that slope. In fact, we’re so far down the hill now that we can see the rocks coming at us from the bottom. It no longer takes a crystal ball to see ahead.

I remember when the public wouldn’t tolerate a TV scene with a man and his wife in the same bed together even though they were only discussing the kids or their in-laws. Now it’s commonplace to see, even on TV in our own living-rooms, people who are barely acquaintances performing blatant and athletic sex. I remember when my mother finally divorced my wayward father and the disdain with which she was treated by her own family; now half of marriages casually fall apart, and we now know that almost all mass shootings are committed by fatherless young men. We didn’t see that coming. Drug usage used to be relegated to the skid row part of town, to hardcore gangbangers, now the scourge has decimated entire communities of good, middle-class kids. Thousands and thousands of our nation’s children have been either molested by their priests, their scout leaders, their teachers or have been lured, or stolen, into sexual slavery. The suicide rate among our young people keeps climbing. I remember living in a nation that was not like that.

But I know from 40 years of teaching that if you start a class with low expectations and loose, sloppy rules, you’ll pay hell trying to get the kids back into some kind of orderly behavior. Once you’ve dropped the reins, it’s really hard to pick them up again.

So I’m worried. I’m buoyed up by the economic, political, and foreign policy successes of this administration and I’m thrilled with the positive response of so many of my fellow Americans, but it’s going to take more than enthusiasm to pull this society back into shape. We are going to need the grace of Almighty God, the wisdom of His Word, the confidence of His faithfulness. We’ll need His Golden Rule and we’ll also need the picture of Him angrily throwing the money-changers out of the Temple. It’s going to take humility, determination, and tremendous courage to make America America again.  

Graphic credit: PXhere

Deana Chadwell is an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon.  She teaches writing and public speaking.

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