January 16th, 2008
Returning to the issue of politics, I want to take a moment and express appreciation and agreement with Lou Engle’s statement about abortion in America at the Call-Kansas City a few weeks back. His contention was that this is not a political issue - it transcends politics and is an issue of America’s moral failure whose logical outworking is the self-centered and callous manner in which men and women deal with their choices while claiming “personal rights”. It astonishes me how easy it is for wicked, ungodly, self-interested and self-centered men and women to frame the national debate on this topic. That we have so exalted individual freedoms and liberties in such a manner that they outweigh the corporate good is a clear indicator that greater atrocities lie in wait in the days to come. The madness that has gripped this nation - subjective morality and the elevation of individual choice - can only end in great bloodshed and tragedy.
Why would Tom Brokaw, as well as many actual sociologists that have objective data to study in drawing their conclusions, peg the World War II generation as “The Greatest Generation”? The Apostle Paul understood why this would be the case: athletes, soldiers, and farmers tend to have a different mindset drilled into them about teamwork, dependance on others, playing your part in a collective whole, service, honor, hard work, sacrifice, and other values that are instilled when working towards a common goal. While I’m not a fan of patriotism per se, it is far better than the alternative in which some tout and exploit their freedom to strike against the very mechanisms and persons in government that contribute to an opulent life of wealth that many ancient kings could never imagine.
We have come to a crossroads in our nation where individualism and the needs of the one far outweigh the corporate good and the needs of all. We have come to the days in which few are interested in self-restraint and self-discipline that serves the greater good. I think that part of the problem lies in the current state of morality and truth in our nation, by which few can even define what constitutes as “good” anymore. Thus “good” becomes what is “good for you”, with many of the popular preachers of the day willingly join the chorus of advertisers, politicians, and corporations happy to serve that subjective definition.
Thus, when talking about politics, I don’t necessarily want to discuss “who to vote for”. As we have seen in the comments section, angst about the quality of the candidates being offered up for public scrutiny can reach historic levels. We are in an age in which more information is so quickly and readily available than any other time in all of history. All of us can now be amateur researchers and reporters, breaking the news on blogs and web discussions about the impropriety and sheer humanity of the poor slobs that step up to volunteer for the thankless job of “leader of the free world.” I don’t say that to pity the corrupt and the ambitious, eager to shape the world according to their arrogant, unbiblical vision of how the world should be. I say that simply to point out that Lincoln would never have been elected to presidential office if they had the internet in 1860.
So we have come to this. Politicians are skilled at winning elections, but incapable of governing. They win because they are the best at tapping into the sinful, self-interested fears of a nation most interested in individual self-preservation. It will hurt us down the road if we exit Iraq prematurely. No one cares. It will hurt us badly down the road if we do not end abortion. No one is concerned. The general malaise that has gripped our nation leaves us more concerned about our personal security, our ability to buy prescription drugs, our buying power, and our interest rates than the life of an unborn child. While the majority of Americans believe that abortion is wrong, few believe it enough to actually take a stand and declare it to be wrong. Because making a definitive judgment on “wrong” then alienates and hurts the feelings of those with no conscience, making a dreadful profit on the shame of America. These are dreadful days, with worse to come.
And yet, the best days of the church are yet to come as well. For God’s eye is on something grander and greater than the next election. He is after a spotless, pure Bride - and will have the desire of His heart expressed on the earth. The manner in which He will bring this about is both great and very terrible. With all of the above - trouble and sin and murder and judgment - all of that in mind, why do I care about politics?
Because there is still time for America to repent - a season of restraint in which this nation can learn to fear God again. When I look at the candidates, I can’t look with an eye towards natural things. I have to look with a different lens, asking the Father to show me which man (or woman) is poised for a life-changing encounter that could serve as the “great equalizer”: a moment in time in which all of their humanity and weakness encounters a fearsome God…and everything is different for the rest of their lives. Who can be “turned”, not by interest groups or power, but by the hand of God Himself?
This is why Paul reframed the political debate in his day. It was not about Nero’s worth or skill in governance. Paul commanded the Roman church to pray for the man that would someday execute him. It is God that sets kings in place and tears them down - He is the great Humbler of Men. He also personifies our only hope for this nation.
So I don’t want to tout anyone just yet - I will wait until the primary season is over. Then, I will pick between the “lesser of two evils” - hoping beyond hope and racing against time that God loves mercy, and desires to establish a season of refreshing and restraint before the judgments come.