The United States: A Civilized Nation?

Is the United States really a civilized nation? Are we really progressive? The question seems ridiculous. “Of course, we are,” we claim. “Look at our skyscrapers, our vast global economy, our technological advancements.” But what are the true marks of a civilized society? Last night’s GOP Debate might give us some insight.

With the field of potential Republican nominees narrowing, one might have expected to see some semblance of civility last night. One might have expected some semblance of maturity. But if you went into last night’s debate with those expectations, you left with them completely unfulfilled.

As for civility, last night’s audience witnessed three grown men – the three leading candidates for the Republican nomination, no less – constantly yelling at one another, constantly interrupting, to the extent that the debate’s moderator, Wolf Blitzer, at one point completely lost control of them. As for maturity, last night’s audience witnessed an onslaught of name-calling, finger-pointing, and blame-shifting. (As a side note, we also heard Donald Trump say that the IRS audits him because he’s “a strong Christian.” You can’t make this stuff up, folks.)

Maybe, then Christians should think about throwing in their lot with the Democrats. But of course, maturity and civility are not to be found there either, unless you find it in the barbarous butchering of unborn babies (to the tune of 528 million tax-payer dollars in 2014) or in staunch opposition to religious freedom for those whose consciences are bound to anything other than the secular and sexual revolution. Oh, the intolerance of “tolerance.” Oh, the irony of our “progressive” friends in the Democratic Party.

What, then, should Christians do? Behind whom should we place our support? Quite frankly, I have no idea. But I do know three things we can do:

1) Pray for our Government (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Though Christians may not have control over who is elected to lead this country, or the policies they inculcate, we can and are biblically mandated to pray for them. Pray for their salvation. Pray for them to pursue Christlike values. Pray for them to recognize that all authority is God’s and all earthly rulers are subject to the one true Ruler. Pray for them to introduce policies that show compassion for the poor, for the orphan and the widow. Pray for them to care for God’s creation. Pray for them to create an environment where religious freedom can flourish. Pray for them to honor marriage, that most basic institution of society. Pray for them to value human life – in the womb, on the battlefield, in old age, indeed, at every stage of life, from conception to death. Pray for our leaders to act humbly, wisely, and with discernment, to do what is best for our nation, yes, but also for all people. Pray for them to live at peace as much as it is in their power to do so.

2) Cast a Better Vision

What better opportunity to cast a biblical vision for the unbeliever than a time of disenchantment with the vision that this world is casting? So many people are sick of politics, sick of politicians. They’ve realized that the government cannot provide utopia, cannot provide hope. Indeed, no worldview can. The only place we find hope is in the Gospel. But if we let go of the vision that the Bible casts and embrace the vision that this world casts, we are sacrificing any chance for hope that the lost people in this world have! As Dr. Russell Moore of the ERLC has said, we are no longer a “moral majority,” (if, in fact, we ever were). We are called instead to be a “prophetic minority.” (See Dr. Moore’s Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel.) Speak truth. Point people to the cross, to Jesus. Cast a vision that gives hope, not in the 4 or 8-year reign of a fallen, sinful man or woman, but in the infinite reign of a perfect, kind, loving, powerful, mighty King.

3) Look to Jesus, who has Overcome the World (John 16:33)

Finally, we must look to Jesus. Watching last night’s debate left me feeling overwhelmed. It left me discouraged. It’s easy to ask the question, “Where is this world headed?” When we ask this in our exasperation, however, we are forgetting that the world, since Genesis 3, has always been headed in the same direction! The good ol’ days aren’t behind us: We’ve yet to experience them! When we face troubles in this world, when our worldview, the core of our beliefs, our virtues, our morals, and most importantly, our faith in Jesus are attacked, we should not be surprised. Jesus told us this would happen! No servant is a master, and if they hated him, surely they’ll hate us! (John 15:20) But we can take heart, for we know that Christ has overcome the world, and that he will return to provide a better, eternal home for his people, chosen by his mercy, sustained by his grace.

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