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THE WORD

WHICH WAY, AMERICA?

By S. G. Smith

The Political Climate of America

When I began writing this column, the news media and the Trump administration were deeply divided over the interpretation and meaning associated with the 2020 election results. Sadly, the conflict might even remain unresolved after this article is published. In a way, this is fortunate since my concern here deals with a much deeper problem than any Trump/Biden victory or which party will have greater representation in Congress. No, our most significant domestic problem now rests in the deep cultural divisions which exist in our country. Divisions that reflect an egregious spiritual deficiency so substantial that our society’s integrity might not be able to endure, and our nation will, therefore, perish.

No doubt that following the 2020 election furor, there will be appeals from many that we should get back to being a unified country once again. I would typically be inclined to agree in the past, but today it seems we are attempting to cross a bridge too far. I’m starting to suspect that we have arrived at a spiritual impasse and that so-called progressive elements influencing our political establishment are advancing irrational and untenable proposals altering our society’s future character.

The Great Spiritual Divide

The spiritual division, which I see in our country, could be briefly classified under two distinct worldviews. One of these worldviews was distinctly present at the inception of America, and the other has progressively developed from the pagan past. The first is a worldview that is anchored in the existence and active preeminence of an infinite, personal Creator. The second has been the slower development of what I choose to call evolutionary, humanistic, pantheism. These views direct our perspectives regarding any notions about God, man, or nature.

One critical period, which always comes to mind from my childhood, concerned the Supreme Court decisions in 1962-3 regarding prayer in public school and the posting of the 10 Commandments for all to see. Without taking time to debate the particulars pertinent to these cases, it was clear that a significant religious/philosophic shift had begun to transpire within our culture.

As a child during the 1950s, I had the impression then that our country was far more unified than it seems today. Having endured WWII, our nation rebounded, and business was optimistically booming. Now I cannot pretend to have been a sophisticated observer of culture as a child; however, my spiritual sensitivity by the 6’60sknew that the times they were a-changin’ Change is always good, right?

A World without the Ten Commandments

Let’s take another look at those 10 Commandments that were withdrawn from our school rooms. The first few allude to the nature of a Creator God (mentioned in the Declaration of Independence) with the exhortation to spend time actually meditating on such things. Additionally, we were exhorted to honor our fathers and mothers, perhaps including our forebears. Finally, we arrive at those commands sadly relevant to everyday human interaction involving murder, adultery, theft, and lying.

Finally, the last of these ten calls into question our character regarding how we might be hiding motives of envy, covetousness, lust, or other malicious attitudes, which poison our souls and are probably foundational in violating the other nine commandments listed.

Well, gee… how are we doing in 2020 without all those pesky Commandments hanging on the schoolhouse wall? Apart from essentially removing any open discussion of God in the public square, we sanctioned women to remove their unborn children from their wombs. Some people might think that is tantamount to murder. We certainly have become more preoccupied with sexual interaction (far afield of the normal male-female model that God originally intended). Additionally, we have moved well beyond simple adultery and have completely lost our way (particularly for some LGBTQ, who are still looking for their right bathroom). Again, beyond simply stealing food or other goods to survive, we have become masters of theft from all the various forms of interest rates to quantitative easing (or perhaps that should be quantitative sleazing). Could this be aggravating any of the social discontents within our cities or our society at large?

As we move on to lying, I’m not sure just where to begin. It seems that when we effectively dismissed the Word of God from our classrooms, we weren’t really interested in truth anymore. In fact, it appears that TRUTH has been the most significant casualty in this progressive transition. When I was young, progressive was a really good word; but, can we really call any of this progress?

That All-Encompassing Summary Commandment

While I was considering the last commandment, I thought about how people governed themselves in the past, well before Moses showed up and provided those judicially unacceptable commands for American schoolhouses. Adam and Eve failed to obey God, and it cost all of us dearly. However, I am always rather shocked, alarmed, and perplexed when reviewing Cain and Abel’s story.

Why would Cain murder his brother? Let’s see? Could the source of their conflict have anything to do with gender preference or sexual oppression? I don’t think so. Could there have been some racial prejudice that became manifest in their social interaction? I doubt this is likely since they had the same father and mother. Perhaps Cain was unhappy and felt economically oppressed because his half of the earth was somehow not as nice as Abel’s half of the earth. People argue over inheritances, but I don’t think that was at issue.

I’m not going to attempt any fancy theological analysis or flashy exegesis here because I’m reasonably confident that somehow, someway, Cain was jealousenvious, and became bitter toward Abel (and perhaps even God). Do you think that the first two human siblings’ problems might have something to do with our current social crises?

Humility, Repentance, and Forgiveness

As I conclude this essay, there is still no uniform agreement on who has won our Presidential election. Furthermore, as I began, it is secondary to resolving the crises in our nation. A new administration, or a different set of executive orders, cannot resolve the deep spiritual divide which lies behind our current crises. Jealousy, envy, and bitterness cannot be hidden behind a mask. If our society commits itself to spiritual idolatry, it will fail to reflect the truth of the universe. In our incessant demands for equality, we cannot expect to make sin equal to righteousness and get away with it. We must have truth to survive!

In the arena of human interaction and conflict, there is more than just law, which provides comprehensive fulfillment in the discovery and enjoyment of life. We must learn humility before God, seek to repent when we are wrong and learn to forgive as we ourselves seek forgiveness. It is written that the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Those Ten Commandments are definitely in the Bible. Oh, oh, oh, that stuff about humility, repentance, and forgiveness which reflects grace… it’s in the Bible too!

Submitted by S. G. Smith, Lubbock, TX

 

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